Ignorance of law is no excuse – Dowry Prohibition

NoExcuseThis is a case of husband and wife- wife being native of Bangalore has filed a complaint under S.498A of Indian Penal Code and Ss/3 & 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act before Shankarapuram Police.

One Mr.Satyan who was an Engineer went to USA i.e. to the State of Oklahama. And later he was married to one Ms.Ranjitha of Bangalore and after marriage Ranjitha joined her husband at Oklahama,USA and lead marital life for some time. Differences arose later. According to husband Ranjitha was not keeping good health throughout and without any rhyme or reason she used to quarrel with him. Apart from that Ranjitha also suffered from an incurable skin disease. And due to her arrogant behaviour the husband had applied for dissolution of the marriage before the District Court of Tulsa County, State of Oklahama and obtained a decree in 2002 and the marriage was dissolved. In this connection, the father of Rajitha, started to intimidate and threaten the husband and other family members and also used to make threatening calls.

Subsequently a case also was filed against the father of Ranjitha for the offence under S.506[criminal intimidation]Part B,IPC and S.448[punishment for house trespass] since he threatened the son-in-law that he would take away her life. However, in this context, in retaliation, above mentioned complaint was filed by Ranjitha under S.498A.

S.498AIPC: Husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty:

Whoever being the husband or the relative of the husband of a woman, subjects such woman to cruelty shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine.

In the instant case, the decree of Oklahama Court for the divorce put an end to the relationship of husband and wife between the husband and wife(complainant) herein.

As per S.498-A IPC, to invoke the said provision, there must be existence of a valid marriage. Since the marriage is dissolved, the complainant cannot proceed against the petitioners by filing a complaint.

As per Section 188 of Criminal Procedure Code[when an Offence is committed outside India] before taking cognizance, a prior sanction of the Central Government has to be obtained by the complainant as it is a mandatory requirement.

When the marital tie is broken by virtue of the decree passed for dissolution of the marriage, the relationship that existed ceased to exist thereafter. Then, there is no question of invoking the provision of S.498-A IPC.

For the foregoing reasons, the chargesheet filed against the ex-husband by the Shankarpuram Police for the offences under Ss.498-A IPC and 3 & 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act is quashed by the Hon’ble High Court.

[2008(5) AIR Kar R 113]

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