The Special Court For Protection Of Children From Sexual Offences Act, 2012 at Fort, Greater Bombay, vide order dated 16th December 2020, while granting bail to the in-laws of complainant held that talking sarcastically and taunting daughter-in-law is part of married life and cannot be a ground to seek custody of aged in-laws.

The said order was passed by Additional Sessions Judge, Justice M.A. Baraliya while looking into an Application filed by the father-in-law and mother-in-law of the First Informant (Complainant), seeking anticipatory bail in relation to an FIR filed by their daughter-in-law (Complainant) alleging offences under Sections 498A (cruelty by in-laws), 420 (cheating), 406 (criminal breach of trust) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code 1857 against them and their son.

The First informant (Complainant) in the present matter is a 30 year old woman who got married to the son of Applicants. The First Informer herein submits that it was after marriage that she found out about her husband being the adopted son of the Applicants. She further complained to the court about the frequent taunts and sarcastic comments she was subjected to by her mother in-law and that her father in-law had an evil eye on her. She also stated that at the time of their marriage, it was only her parents who contributed in the wedding and gifted her ornaments worth Rs. 1,51,50,000/- (Rupees One Crore Fifty One Lakhs and Fifty Thousand Only/). The First Informer went on to accuse her in-laws of concealing the jewellery that was given to her on her wedding. The complainant submitted that there was a probe pending against the applicants with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) which had frozen their accounts.

Counsel for the Applicants in response to the allegations submitted that the accounts of the applicants have already been frozen by the Investigating Agency. She argued that the first informant knew since beginning that her husband was the adopted son of the Applicants since she frequently visited their house even before marriage and that the said marriage was a love marriage. She further submitted that the expenditure of the marriage was equally borne by both sides. Furthermore, the First Informant had barely lived for two days with her in-laws after marriage and that she used to visit Dubai frequently to meet her husband and on returning lived with her mother.

Counsel for the Applicants contented that the Applicants are old aged and suffering from several ailments wherein Applicant no.1 is a heart patient and Applicant no.2 is a diabetic. Since the husband has already initiated divorce proceeding in Dubai, the First Informer was harassing unnecessarily both applicants.

After taking note of all the facts of the case, Hon’ble Additional Sessions Judge observed that apart from the offences alleged, “the rest of the allegations made in the FIR against the applicants are of general nature.” The Court also noted that the Complainant stayed with the Applicants only for a very short period.

Further, the investigating agency had already frozen their accounts, investigation was ongoing and there was no necessity for continuous custody of Applicants who were really old aged, the Court said.

The Complainant, daughter-in-law, submitted that there was a probe pending against the Applicants with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) which had frozen their accounts. The Court, however, was not impressed by that line of argument since the present FIR was an independent crime.

The application was also opposed on the ground that the Applicants may abscond from the jurisdiction of the court and move to Dubai where their son resides. The Court, therefore, directed the Applicants to surrender their passports to the police station while allowing them anticipatory bail.

Holding that taunts and sarcastic comments were part of any married life and thus couldn’t be a ground for arresting in-laws for the abovementioned allegations, the Applicants were granted bail by the Hon’ble Sessions Court.

Order: Ramesh_Dalal_v__State_of_Maharashtra