21 July 2020

Single incidence of assault is not cruelty u/s.498A; torture must be continuous and persistent

It goes without saying that matrimonial cruelty occurs within the precincts of the matrimonial home of the wife and she hardly shares her ordeals with someone other than her parents and her near relatives. As a result overwhelming evidence may not be available before the court in a case under Section 498A IPC. But that does not absolve the prosecution from the burden of proving the charge by cogent, coherent and persuasive evidence.[Para No.19]

    In the case in hand, the matter was reported to police by the father of the victim after he brought back his daughter from her matrimonial home. It is apparent on the face of the record that the victim lived with her husband in her matrimonial home only for about 6 months after their marriage. Except the omnibus statement of the victim and her parents that the appellant demanded cash from the parents of the victim and tortured her for fulfillment of his demand, no particular incident of any kind of physical or mental torture meted out to the victim or any other instance of abuse in her matrimonial house has been proved against the appellant. In this regard, the Apex Court, while dwelling on similar issue in Manju Ram Kalita vs. State of Assam reported (2009) 13 SCC 330 held as under:
"21. Cruelty" for the purpose of section 498A, IPC is to be established in the context of section 498A, IPC as it may be a different from other statutory provisions. It is to be determined / inferred by considering the conduct of the man, weighing the gravity or seriousness of his acts and to find out as to whether it is likely to drive the woman to commit suicide etc. It is to be established that the woman has been subjected to cruelty continuously / persistently or at least in close proximity of time of loading the complaint. Petty quarrels cannot be termed as 'cruelty' to attract the provisions of section 498A, IPC. Causing mental torture to the extent that it becomes unbearable may be treated as cruelty."[Para No.26]

Single incidence of assault is not cruelty u/s.498A; torture must be continuous  and persistent
    In the case of Prwitish Datta and ors vs. State of Tripura reported in (2014) 1 TLR 848 this High Court held that every case of harassment of the wife either by the husband or his family members cannot be termed as cruelty within the meaning of Section 498A unless the conduct of the husband or his family members, as the case may be, is willful and of such a grave nature which is likely to drive the wife to commit suicide or to cause grave injury or danger to her life, limb or health whether mental or physical. Similarly, in Gautam Nama vs. State of Tripura reported in (2013) 2 TLR 134, this High Court observed that

on the basis of mere omnibus statement without specific evidence regarding the particulars of the instances of such torture or cruelty, the accused cannot be held guilty under Section 498A IPC.In the case of Dhananjoy Shil vs. State of Tripura reported in (2013) 2 TLR 1060 also it was held by this Court that a single incident of assault may not amount to an offence under Section 498A IPC because cruelty for the purpose of Section 498A is different from other statutory provisions and it is to be established against the appellant that he subjected his wife to cruelty continuously and persistently. It was also held that petty quarrels cannot be termed as cruelty to attract the provisions of Section 498A IPC.[Para No.27]

Tripura High Court

Alamin Miah
State Of Tripura

Decided on 20/07/2020

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