Matrimonial disputes: India

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This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.


S. 498(A) IPC

False complaints

The Times of India

Dhananjay Mahapatra, December 09, 2014

The Supreme Court onsaid false complaints under Section 498A of Indian Penal Code against innocent in-laws alleging cruelty and harassment at matrimonial homes were increasingly making the husbands adamant not to take back their wives.

“For no fault, the in-laws, especially old parents of the husband, are taken to jail the moment a false complaint is filed against them by a woman under Section 498A. By roping in in-laws without a reason and for settling a score with the husband, the false and exaggerated 498A complaints are causing havoc to marriages” said a bench of Chief Justice H L Dattu and A K Sikri.

These comments assume significance as it has been a trend with the SC to seek response from the husband on a mere mention of a petition by a woman in matrimonial disputes. The court also readily transfers a matrimonial case to a place convenient to the wife, brushing aside protests from the husband.

Dismissing a woman's petition, who had appealed against a trial court's decision not to permit her lead evidence against the two brothers of her husband, the CJI said, “There is an increasing hardening of stand among husbands, whose parents had been arrested in false 498A cases, not to take back the wife. They say they are willing to give her all the property , they will take care of the children's education and marriage but will not take her back.“

Girlfriend, mistress can’t be charged under cruelty law: HC

Mohammed Akhef, Dec 27, 2021: The Times of India

AURANGABAD: The term “relative” cannot be applied to a girlfriend or mistress when filing a case under Section 498A of the IPC that deals with cruelty towards a woman by her husband or kin, the Bombay high court’s Aurangabad bench has said while quashing an FIR against a woman constable accused of harassment by the wife of a male colleague.

According to the FIR registered by Dharur police in Maharashtra’s Beed district, the woman constable was in an allegedly illicit relationship with the complainant’s husband – also a cop — and the duo conspired along with the woman’s inlaws to insult and harass her. The complainant also claimed her husband and relatives tried to set her ablaze.

The bench of Justice V K Jadhav and Justice Sandipkumar C More noted that the attempt-to-murder charge (Section 307) had been made mainly against the complainant’s husband, mother-inlaw and other family members. “Insofar as the charge under Section 498A is concerned, the charge is not sustainable against the applicant (the woman constable),” the judges said.

Lawyers Ashwini Lomte and S J Salunke, representing the woman constable, had submitted that their client was not a member of the complainant’s family and, hence, the allegations levelled against her were with “certain oblique motive”. The lawyers also cited a 2009 Supreme Court judgment in which it was specified that any reference to a “relative of the husband” cannot include “the (man’s) girlfriend or concubine”.


SC: Hear marital disputes in-camera

Dhananjay Mahapatra, Hear marital disputes in-camera, suggests SC, October 10, 2017: The Times of India

 `Videocon On Joint Plea Only'

In a landmark verdict aimed at keeping matrimonial disputes private and protecting the dignity of women, the Supreme Court on Monday ruled that it would be advisable for family courts to conduct in-camera hearings to resolve differences between husband and wife over divorce, maintenance and custody of children.

“In view of the scheme of the Family Courts Act, 1984, and in particular Section 11, the hearing of matrimonial disputes may have to be conducted in-camera,“ a bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said. Matrimonial disputes in family courts have been a fertile ground for parties to make wild accusations against each other and fight bitterly over custody of children as well as maintenance.

Allowing video-conferencing facility in matrimonial disputes would undermine the sanctity of concepts like constitutional identity , freedom of choice, dignity of a woman and affirmative rights conferred on her by the Constitution, Justice Misra said in the judgment, written on his behalf and that of Justice A M Khanwilkar. Justice D Y Chandrachud penned a dissent note.

Justice Misra said the family court's primary duty was to make every effort for conciliation between estranged couples. “Once a settlement fails and if both parties give consent that a witness can be examined through video-conferencing... when they give consent that it is necessary in a specific factual matrix having regard to the convenience of the parties, the family court may allow the prayer for video-conferencing,“ he said.

In addition, if the family court, after failing to facilitate a settlement between the couple, thinks it would serve justice by permitting video-conferencing to conduct the proceedings, it could so order, the SC said but remained firm that the SC or high courts could not order video-conferencing on a petition filed by a woman seeking transfer of the matrimonial dispute from one place to another.

However, Justice Chandrachud said, “Appropriate deployment of technology facilitates access to justice.Litigation under the Family Courts Act, 1984, is not an exception to this principle. This court must be averse to judicially laying down a restraint on such use of technology which facilitates access to justice to persons in conflict, including those involved in conflicts within the family . Modern technology is above all a facilitator, enabler and leveller.

“Video conferencing is a technology which allows users in different locations to hold face to face meetings.Video conferencing is being used extensively the world over... Video conferencing reduces cost, time, carbon footprint and the like.

“There is a fallacy in the hypothesis that an in-camera trial is inconsistent with the usage of video-conferencing techniques. A trial in-camera postulates the exclusion of the public from the courtroom and allows for restraints on public reporting... The proper adoption of video-conferencing does not negate the postulates of an in-camera trial even if such a trial is required by the court or by one of the parties under Section 11.“

Transfer of cases at wives’ request

The Times of India, Jan 09 2015

Why should hubbies suffer every time: SC

Turns Down Woman's Plea To Shift Case

For two decades, the Supreme Court had mostly acceded to requests of estranged wives to transfer matrimonial disputes to places of their convenience warranting the husbands to make long trips to attend court hearings.

The trend was reversed on Thursday by a bench of Chief Justice H L Dattu and Justice A K Sikri, which admitted that the court had been very lenient to the pleas of wives to put husbands to discomfiture. “Estranged wives seeking transfer of cases, filed by husbands, to their places of residence has become the order of the day . We had become too liberal in acceding to their requests. But the husbands also have a right. Why the husbands should be always made to suffer,“the bench asked and indicated that it would from now on take into account merits of the husbands' plea against such requests by wives seeking transfer of cases.

There had been a rising trend among women in matrimonial disputes to seek transfer of pending cases to places situated far away from the husbands' places of work so as to inconvenience them the most. The court had traditionally accepted the wives' pleas given the social background where the estranged wife generally rushed to her parents' home and that it would be difficult for the parents to foot the cost of travel and litigation cost at a far away place.

The court refused to transfer a matrimonial dispute from Ghaziabad to Betul at the wife's request despite her counsel informing the court that she was a permanent resident of Betul in Madhya Pradesh.

The CJI added, “They take a plea before the court that they may have committed a mistake but for that punishing their old parents on a false complaint was not condonable. The false complaints under Section 498A are ruining marriages. “The court had some advice for women who file complaints under Section 498A. “When you file complaints under Section 498A, be circumspect and truthful. You unnecessarily involve old people in your complaint, you end up ruining the marriage,“ it said.

Husband must attend court wherever wife files case: CJI

The Times of India, Sep 01 2015

Dhananjay Mahapatra

Husband must follow wherever wife files case, says CJI Dattu ust six months after giving hope to estranged husbands that J they need not always be at the receiving end, the Supreme Court said wherever a wife files a case of cruelty in the matrimonial home against her husband, he has to go there and face proceedings. Counsel for an estranged husband facing cases under Section 498A of Indian Penal Code instituted by his wife in Goa told a bench of Chief Justice H L Dattu and Justice Amitava Roy that the alleged incidents of harassment in the matrimonial home happened in UP, the woman's father was a resident of Haryana, yet she chose to file the case in Goa to harass him. When he sought transfer of the case to a mutually convenient place, the bench rejected the argument saying a husband has to travel to the place where the case was instituted by the estranged wife. The CJI said, “In Indian society, we believe that wherever the wife goes, the husband has to faithfully follow her there.“

Women driven out by in-laws can file case anywhere: SC

April 10, 2019: The Times of India

Women can file matrimonial cases, including criminal matters pertaining to cruelty, from the place where they have taken shelter after leaving or being driven out of their matrimonial home, the Supreme Court said on Tuesday.

The verdict came on an appeal filed by Rupali Devi against the Allahabad HC which dismissed her plea to file a dowry harassment case from her parents’ house. The HC order held that cruelty punishable under Section 498A is not a continuing offence, and thus cannot be investigated or punished in a jurisdiction outside the one in which the matrimonial house of the complainant is situated.

The SC bench said: “We... hold that the courts at the place where the wife takes shelter after leaving from the matrimonial home, ...also have jurisdiction to entertain a complaint alleging commission of offences”. PTI

Property, residential

Wife’s right of residence in shared household not permanent: HC

Abhinav Garg, March 2, 2022: The Times of India

New Delhi: The right of residence of a wife in a shared household is not permanent if the property is owned by the in-laws who wish to evict her, Delhi High Court has said. 
Dismissing a plea against eviction by an estranged wife living with her in-laws, the court said, “Admittedly, the right of residence under the Domestic Violence Act is not an indefeasible right of residence in a shared household, especially, when the daughter-in-law is pitted against the aged father-inlaw and mother-in-law. ”

Justice Yogesh Khanna further noted that the in-laws in the current case were “senior citizens, aged about 74 and 69 years, and being in the evening of their life, are entitled to live peacefully and not to be haunted by the marital discord between their son and daughter-in-law”.

The high court, however, made it clear that until an alternative accommodation was provided to the wife by her husband, she won’t be evicted from the house as per the provisions of Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act.

The woman’s plea said that as a legally wedded wife, she had been living with her two minor daughters in one room with an attached bathroom and a balcony in the suit property, owned by her father-in-law. She further claimed that the property was bought from joint family funds and from the sale proceeds of the ancestral property of the father-inlaw, and hence, it was a joint family property in which she also had a right to reside. However, the trial court had held that the property was a self-acquired one by the father-in-law and she was residing in it as his daughter-in-law, and once the in-laws didn’t wish to keep her, she had no right to stay there. The wife challenged the decree of possession passed against her.

The high court noted that the parties were residing in a flat, even while filing various complaints against each other, which revealed that their relations were not cordial. It wondered if in such circumstances, it would “be appropriate for them to stay together and fight every minute of their existence”, and upheld the trial court’s decision, while noting that the husband had never staked his claim to the property. “Where the residence is ashared household, it does notcreate any embargo upon theowner to claim eviction against hisdaughter-in-law. A strained frictional relationship between theparties would be relevant todecide whether the grounds ofeviction exist,” the judge said,adding, “since there exists a frictional relationship between theparties, then at the fag end oftheir lives, it would not be advisable for the old parents to stay withthe appellant. ”

Unnatural sex

A heinous crime/ SC, 2021

Dhananjay Mahapatra, Sep 28, 2021: The Times of India

The Supreme Court said forcible unnatural sex with wife by husband is a heinous offence, especially as it had led her to die by suicide, and refused bail to the man who has been in custody for more than two years on charges of dowry harassment, domestic violence and rape.

An FIR was lodged in 2019 by the victim’s brother at Bhiwani Sadar police station in Haryana’s Bhiwani district, under Sections 148, 149, 323, 377 and 306 of the IPC.

A bench of Chief Justice N V Ramana and Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli refused bail to one Pradeep, who allegedly tortured his wife by forcibly committing unnatural sex with her after her family failed to meet his dowry demands.

The CJI-led bench said Sec 377 (rape) is a very serious offence and that the accused husband did not deserve leniency at the stage of probe. “We do not know what the police are doing. You started demanding dowry. When her family could not meet those demands, you started harassing her. You circulated her private pictures and videos on social media and tried to blackmail her. Above all, you allegedly had forcible unnatural sex with her leading to her suicide. You deserve no leniency as this is a heinous crime.”

When the petitioner’s counsel said that the man is a government servant and would lose his job if not granted bail, the bench said, “It is ok if such persons lose their jobs. You better stay in jail.”

See also

Divorce: India

Matrimonial disputes: India

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