The High Court of Calcutta has held that cruelty to the wife for dark complexion by her husband and in-laws will be an offence of cruelty under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code, while sustaining the conviction of a man for the murder of his wife.
A Division Bench of Justices Sahidullah Munshi and Subhasis Dasgupta observed that causing cruelty to the deceased victim for her black complexion even after her marriage by the in-laws would definitely attract Section 498A/34 I.P.C. against the in-laws, including the accused husband.
An appeal was filed before the Calcutta High Court against the conviction of a husband and his family members, for causing death of the victim by hanging, only 7 months after their marriage. The accused was convicted and sentenced under Section 498A/302/34 of the Indian Penal Code
The Court also held that the facts and circumstances of the case pointed to the guilt of the accused husband for causing homicidal death of his deceased wife by strangulation, with the motive being his non-satisfaction over her black complexion.
The Court stated that since deceased was put to suffer her death in her matrimonial home in the manner as disclosed by Autopsy Surgeon, in the absence of any cogent evidence in the cross-examination of witnesses that there was a fair possibility of an outsider committing the offence, the plea of denial with the false implication is inconsequential. It was for the husband alone to explain the grounds for the unnatural death of his wife.
The Court noted that the conviction and sentence as against the accused mother-in-law need sufficient modification directing the mother-in-law to be set free from correctional authority upon completion of sentence awarded against her under Section 498A/34.
The court however acquitted the mother-in-law of the deceased wife of murder charges, while sustaining her conviction for domestic cruelty.
The Court noted that there was an unnatural death of deceased held within seven months of her marriage. Such unnatural death was admittedly held in the in-law’s house of the deceased victim. There was sufficient evidence to show that the victim received oppression, ill-treatment, torture, cruelty in her in-law’s house by her in-law’s members for her black complexion. The victim was further threatened to be driven out from her matrimonial home for giving the second marriage of her husband.
Facts: According to the judgement of the High Court, the victim, a 20-year old girl, was married to accused according to Mohammedan rites and customs, and his family’s demands for cash of Rs.11,000, silver ornaments of three descriptions, one Hero cycle and other valuables was satisfied.
Read the judgment here;Mazidul-Miah
-India Legal Bureau