The Karnataka High Court, in an appeal filed against the Trial Courts conviction under Section 498A of the IPC, has affirmatively stated that merely not allowing the wife to go to her matrimonial home does not constitute cruelty. The facts of the case are that the deceased wife had consumed poison as a result of which she died. On a complaint filed by the deceased’s father, the husband and the mother-in-law were named in the complaint and as such, the trial was initiated. During the proceedings, several witnesses including the deceased’s sister and son were called upon as witnesses. As per the statement given by the witnesses and on the basis of the evidence presented, the Trial Court acquitted the mother-in-law of all charges and convicted the accused under Section 498A of the IPC.

During the hearing of the appeal filed by the accused, the Counsel for the Appellant pointed out that the Appellant had been acquitted of the provisions under Section 306 of the IPC. Considering this point, the Counsel further elaborated that the Accused ought to have also been acquitted of the charge under Section 498A by extending the benefit of doubt with reference to acquittal under Section 306. Further, it was argued that the Trial Court had merely convicted the appellant on the ground that the deceased was not permitted to visit her matrimonial home.

The Hon’ble High Court, in its observations, highlighted that the factual position of the matter did not warrant the accused to be convicted under Section 498A. The fact that the deceased was married for 11 years supported with the deposition of the son that there was no physical or mental harassment inflicted by the accused has not been taken into consideration by the Trial Court. The prosecution had failed to prove the existence of any harassment that the deceased had faced which resulted in the commission of suicide. The Trial Court had, thus, committed error in appreciating the evidence that was presented before it and thus the Appeal was allowed thereby acquitting the accused of the charges levelled against him.

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Judgment:Srinivasa Gowda V/s State of Karnataka