Mumbai: The Bombay High Court has held that if an in-law asks a woman to leave their house along with her husband because it is ‘exclusively’ owned by them (in-law), then such behaviour cannot be termed as ‘cruelty or torture’.
The observation was made by a single-judge bench of Justice Mridula Bhatkar while hearing a petition filed by a family (mother-in-law (75), father-in-law (84) and two sisters-in-law) challenging the order of a lower court. The lower court had in 2014 and 2016 rejected the discharge applications moved by the family.
The family was booked by the Shivaji Park police station under charges of dowry and cruelty, after their daughter-in-law registered a FIR against them.
The contention of the daughter-in-law was that after her marriage she started living with her husband’s family and within one month of the marriage, she was being tortured and harassed especially by her husband and mother-in-law. She alleged that her mother-in-law asked her to buy a new house from her her own income. She alleged that the family always demanded Rs 3, 000 as a monthly rent from her. She accused her father-in-law and sisters-in-law for being ‘abusive.’
The counsel for the family informed the court this family of four people were residing in a small one bedroom house and there was paucity of space. He also informed the court that the house was registered in the name of the father-in-law and he wanted his son and his wife to live separately.
After hearing the submissions from both the sides, Justice Bhatkar said, “The main grievance is that the father-in-law asked the complainant (daughter-in-law) to stay separately and buy another house. It appears that her in-laws had refused to baby-sit the complainant’s daughter immediately after her delivery and so she was offended.”
“It is mentioned in the FIR and statements that the gestures of the father-in-law were aggressive as he told the complainant that she and her husband should not stay in the house because it is exclusively owned by him. This behaviour cannot be treated as ‘torture or cruelty’. One needs to take into account that the father-in-law was the real owner of the house and there was the paucity of space,” Justice Bhatkar said in her order.
Accordingly, she discharged the father-in-law and both the sisters-in-law of the complainant woman but granted no relief to the mother-in-law and husband.