Madhya Pradesh High Court has termed the allegations against the husband as ‘trivial’ charges of cruelty. It remarked that summoning of the husband to the jail would end the marriage with no chances of reconciliation.
On 08.06.2020, the applicant filed a complaint with the local police station that his in-laws took away his wife and did not allow her to join his society. However, on 19.06.2020, the complainant/wife registered a criminal case under Section 294, 498-A and 34 of Indian Penal Code and Section 3 and 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act. It was alleged that the applicant demanded gold and property as dowry and that the wife was subjected to sexual harassment and unnatural sex.
Therefore, the applicant apprehending his arrest, sought for anticipatory bail under Section 438 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.
The Court considered the applicant’s submission under Section 9 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. The submission revealed the husband’s intention to reconcile under the decree for restitution of conjugal rights. The Court noted that the allegations were ‘trivial’ in nature which are experienced due to friction in marriages. It remarked- “If the applicant goes to jail, the marriage would almost surely come to an end as thereafter there would be hardly any chances of compromise.”
Further, according to the medicolegal case, there were no signs of injuries on the body of the complainant. Therefore, the Court conclusively asserted that the case was a result of a mere matrimonial dispute and nothing more.
Justice Atul Sreedharan pronounced the order and granted the anticipatory bail. The allegations were considered as trivial in nature. The release on anticipatory bail shall prevent the husband from going to jail and hence, provide a window for compromise or settlement.
A critical analysis of the judgment reveals the approach of the judiciary while dealing with criminal charges in marriages. The objective of punishing the offences such as cruelty is to condemn the private acts done in the holy matrimony. The granting of anticipatory bail defeats the purpose of law when the judiciary strives to put together a bad marriage. An amplified version of the same is the issue of criminalizing ‘marital rape’.
In 2017, the Central Government submitted to the Delhi High Court that criminalizing of marital rape may destabilize the institution of marriage. Hence, it presents a question at large whether marriages must be preserved at the costs of individuals’ right to justice.
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