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Meera v. State by the Inspector of Police Thiruvotriyur Police Station Chennai

Penal Code, 1860 – Section 498A – Husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty – When an offence has been committed by a woman by meting out cruelty to another woman it becomes a more serious offence. If a lady does not protect another lady, the other lady would become vulnerable.

It is to be noted that the appellant – mother-in-law is held to be guilty for the offence under Section 498A of IPC. Being a lady, the appellant, who was the mother-in-law, ought to have been more sensitive vis-à-vis her daughter-in-law. When an offence has been committed by a woman by meting out cruelty to another woman, i.e., the daughter-in-law, it becomes a more serious offence. If a lady, i.e., the mother-in-law herein does not protect another lady, the other lady, i.e., daughter-in-law would become vulnerable. In the present case, even the husband of the victim was staying abroad. The victim was staying all alone with her in-laws. Therefore, it was the duty of the appellant, being the mother-in-law and her family to take care of her daughter-in-law, rather than harassing and/or torturing and/or meting out cruelty to her daughter-in-law regarding jewels or on other issues. Therefore, as such, no leniency is required to be shown to the appellant in this case.

Merely because long time has passed in concluding the trial and/or deciding the appeal by the High Court, is no ground not to impose the punishment and/or to impose the sentence already undergone.

Now, in so far as the alternative submission made on behalf of the accused to take a lenient view looking to the age of the appellant is concerned, it is required to be noted that as such the Trial Court has imposed the sentence of one year R.I. for the offence under Section 498A. However, the punishment could have been upto three years R.I. At the time when the incident occurred, the appellant was approximately between 60-65 years. The incident is of the year 2006. Therefore, merely because long time has passed in concluding the trial and/or deciding the appeal by the High Court, is no ground not to impose the punishment and/or to impose the sentence already undergone. However, considering the fact that the incident is of the year 2006 and at present the appellant is reported to be approximately 80 years old, in the peculiar facts and circumstances of the case, as a mitigating circumstance, we propose to reduce the sentence from one year R.I. to three months R.I. with fine imposed by the Trial Court to be maintained.

Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC)

Having gone through the material on record and the findings recorded by the Trial Court, we are of the opinion that it has been established and proved that the deceased was subjected to torture/cruelty by the appellant – mother-in-law with regard to jewels. PW-1 – mother of the victim in her evidence has clearly stated that her daughter was frequently subjected to harassment by her mother-in-law for not adorning jewels. Similar is the deposition of PW-2 – father of the victim. Both the aforesaid witnesses were subjected to cross-examination. However, after detailed cross-examination, they have 5 stood by what they have stated. Therefore, both of them and even PW-3 have fully supported the case of the prosecution. There are concurrent findings of facts recorded by both the Courts below on the harassment and/or torture and/or cruelty by the appellant – accused No. 2 with regard to jewels. The findings recorded by both the Courts below are on appreciation of evidence, therefore, we are of the opinion that the appellant has been rightly held guilty for the offence under Section 498A IPC.

Case Number : Criminal Appeal No. 31 of 2022; January 11, 2022

Hon’ble Mr. Justice M.R. Shah pronounced the reportable judgment of the Bench comprising His Lordship and Hon’ble Mrs. Justice B.V. Nagarathna.

For Appellant(s) Mr. S. Nagamuthu, Sr. Adv. Mr. M.P. Parthiban, AOR Mr. A.S.Vairawan, Adv. Mr. R. Sudhakaran, Adv. Mrs. Shalini Mishra, Adv. Mr. T. Hari Hara Sudhan, Adv. Mr. Vikash G.R. Adv.

Case Link : https://pdf.caselaw.in/sc/2022/01/1210/

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