24 March 2023 10:45 AM GMT
"A married lady being told by her mother-in-law that she required more perfection in doing or attending household work can never be said to be cruelty or harassment," the Andhra Pradesh High Court has held.A bench comprising Justice Dr VRK Krupa Sagar was hearing the appeal of a mother-in-law and her son, aggrieved by conviction under Section 304B IPC (Dowry death) and sentence of...
"A married lady being told by her mother-in-law that she required more perfection in doing or attending household work can never be said to be cruelty or harassment," the Andhra Pradesh High Court has held.
A bench comprising Justice Dr VRK Krupa Sagar was hearing the appeal of a mother-in-law and her son, aggrieved by conviction under Section 304B IPC (Dowry death) and sentence of rigorous imprisonment for ten years.
The complainants alleged that their daughter was subjected to cruelty within the eight months of her marriage and that the appellants compared her marriage ceremony and arrangements with that of her sister's wedding celebrations.
Deliberating on the argument that the appellant-husband and his mother subjected the deceased woman to cruelty as they often asked her to be a bit more perfect in her household work the bench observed,
"A praise or a comment with reference to the works that were being done is a common factor in any household. It is no one’s case that she was either abused or physically beaten for her imperfections in doing household works,".
In its bid to answer the question as to whether the evidence proved beyond reasonable doubt that there was dowry death in terms of Section 304-B IPC, the court said that mere demand for dowry by itself cannot be considered as cruelty unless failure to comply with the demand is visited with cruelty.
The bench pointed that the material placed on record fell short to convict the appellants under charges of dowry death. "If really the deceased woman was subjected to troubles, there was no occasion for her not to tell someone who was immediately available around her house," the judge observed.
The bench highlighted that there was never an incident of any of the accused sending away the deceased from the house nor the deceased rushing away from the matrimonial home and reaching her mother and brother complaining of any trouble to her by the accused.
"This is indicative of the fact that it was a normal family life she was leading. Normal family life holds pains and pleasures in its living. The evidence of her parents does not show that they ever felt to enquire the well being of the deceased through any neighbour of the matrimonial home. That means they had no occasion to feel anything bad or suspicious," the bench remarked .
Dealing with the contentions of comparisons made by the appellant/accused with respect to the solemnization of the marriage ceremony of the deceased with that of her sisters the bench reasoned,
"Drawing comparison for marriage celebrations or elders telling the newly married girl about the need for attending household works more efficiently are no way connected to dowry and cruelty with reference to dowry as mentioned in Section 304-B Indian Penal Code (IPC),".
In view of the said legal position the bench allowed the appeal and set aside the conviction.
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (AP) 11
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