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A woman, forced out of her matrimonial home on account of cruelty, can file a criminal case against her tormentors, including spouse and in-laws at the place where she is compelled to take shelter. No more is it mandatory that the complaint be filed in the place where her matrimonial home is.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi delivered this important judgment with regard to territorial jurisdiction of a place where a married woman can file cases against her estranged husband and in-laws after being subjected to dowry harassment and cruelty, agencies reported.

The bench said besides the place where a woman was living before and after marriage, the place of shelter will also have territorial jurisdiction for filing matrimonial cases.

The top court verdict came on a plea filed by a woman, Rupali Devi, from Uttar Pradesh. The SC said that a woman driven out of her matrimonial home because of cruelty can initiate criminal proceedings under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) at the place of her shelter or place of her parents’ house where she resides.

—India Legal Bureau

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