A bench comprising CJI Ranjan Gogoi, justice L. Nageswara Rao and justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul has dealt with the issue of jurisdiction in a recent judgment passed by Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in a case titled as Rupali Devi versus State Of Uttar Pradesh, covered under S.498A Of IPC relating to cruelty in connection with demand of Dowry and other form of cruelties.

Facts of the present case

In the above noted case, the wife faced cruelty in her matrimonial home and after leaves to her parental home. Thereafter she lodged an FIR under Section 498A of Indian Penal Code in the jurisdiction of her parental home. It is pertinent to mention here that no specific act of commission of cruelty committed in the parental home.

Initially issue arose

“Whether a woman forced to leave her matrimonial home on account of acts and conduct that constitute cruelty can initiate and access the legal process within the jurisdiction of the courts where she is forced to take shelter with the parents or other family members.”

ISSUE SOLVED BY UNDER GIVEN REFERENCE.

IN;- (i) Y. Abraham Ajith and Others v. Inspector of Police, Chennai and Another (2004) 8 SCC 100.

(ii) Ramesh and Others v. State of Tamil Nadu (2005) 3 SCC 507.

(iii) Manish Ratan and Others v. State of Madhya Pradesh and Another (2007) 1 SCC 262.

(iv) Amarendu Jyoti and Others v. State of Chhattisgarh and Others (2014) 12 SCC 362.

 A view has been taken that if on account of cruelty committed to a wife in a matrimonial home she takes shelter in the parental home and if no specific act of commission of cruelty in the parental home can be attributed to the husband or his relatives, the initiation of proceedings under Section 498A in the courts having jurisdiction in the area where the parental home is situated will not be permissible.

DEFINATION OF CONTINUING OFFENCE

The Hon’ble Supreme Court by referring one judgment i.e. State of Bihar v. Deokaran Nenshi [1972 SC], define the continuing offence as under

. A continuing offence is one which is susceptible of continuance and is distinguishable from the one which is committed once and for all. It is one of those offences which arises out of a failure to obey or comply with a rule or it requirement and which involves a penalty, the liability for which continues until the rule or its requirement is obeyed or complied with. On every occasion that such disobedience or non-compliance occurs and reoccurs, there is the offence committed. The distinction between the two kinds of offences is between an act or omission which constitutes an offence once and for all and an act or omission which continues, and therefore, constitutes a fresh offence every time or occasion on which it continues. In the case of a continuing offence, there is thus the ingredient of continuance of the offence which is absent in the case of an offence which takes place when an act or omission is committed once and for all.”

Held:

Section 178 creates an exception to the “ordinary rule” engrafted in Section 177 by permitting the courts in another local area where the offence is partly committed to take cognizance. Also if the offence committed in one local area continues in another local area, the courts in the latter place would be competent to take cognizance of the matter. Under Section 179, if by reason of the consequences emanating from a criminal act an offence is occasioned in another jurisdiction, the court in that jurisdiction would also be competent to take cognizance. Thus, if an offence is committed partly in one place and partly in another; or if the offence is a continuing offence or where the consequences of a criminal act result in an offence being committed at another place, the exception to the “ordinary rule” would be attracted and the courts within whose jurisdiction the criminal act is committed will cease to have exclusive jurisdiction to try the offence..

The Court has also examined the scope of the “Cruelty” which forms the crux of the offence under Section 498A of CrPC.

That the Cruelty can be either physical or mental, the Court made it crystal clear. It stated that the shock on the mental health of the wife by overt acts on the part of the husband or his relatives, the mental stress and trauma of being driven away from the matrimonial home and her coercing to go back to the same home for fear of being illtreated are aspects that cannot be ignored while understanding the meaning of the expression “cruelty” appearing in Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code.

The provision contained in Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code, undoubtedly, encompasses both mental as well as the physical well-being of the wife.

Therefore, the court held that the courts at the place where the wife takes shelter after leaving or being driven away from the matrimonial home on account of acts of cruelty committed by the husband or his relatives, would also have jurisdiction to entertain a complaint alleging commission of offences under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code.

Conclusion

The wife can file the case where she resides after leaving the matrimonial home.

The court has proper jurisdiction where the case has been filed by the wife after leaving or driven out from the matrimonial home.

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