The emotional distress is bound to traumatise the wife even after she leaves the matrimonial home and lives in her parental house. The HC accordingly quashed an order of the trial court, which had transferred probe into an FIR filed by a woman against her husband under charges of unnatural sex and domestic violence.
A bench of Justices Mahesh Sonak and Pushpa Ganediwala was hearing a plea filed by a woman challenging the decision of a family court to transfer probe into her FIR from Chandrapur to Pune, where her husband resided. She claimed that the harassment meted out to her continued to haunt her even when she left her husband's house.
Taking note of the contentions, the judges said, "Mental stress and trauma of being driven away from the matrimonial home and her helplessness to go back to the same home for fear of being ill-treated are aspects that cannot be ignored while understanding the meaning of expression 'cruelty' appearing in section 498-A of IPC."
"Emotional distress or psychological effect on the wife, if not the physical injury, is bound to continue to traumatize the wife even after she leaves the matrimonial home and takes shelter at the parental home," the judges said, adding, "Even if the acts of physical cruelty committed in the matrimonial house may have ceased and such acts do not occur at the parental home, there can be no doubt that the mental trauma and psychological distress caused by acts of husband including verbal exchanges, if any, that had compelled the wife to leave the matrimonial home and take shelter with her parents would continue to persist at the parental home."
The bench further said that mental cruelty borne out of physical cruelty or abusive and humiliating verbal exchanges would continue in the parental home even though there may not be any overt act of physical cruelty at such place.
"Even the silence of the wife may have an underlying element of emotional distress and mental agony. Her sufferings at parental home though may be directly attributable to the commission of acts of cruelty by husband at matrimonial home would, undoubtedly, be the consequences of the acts committed at the matrimonial home. Such consequences, by itself, would amount to distinct offenses committed at parental home or other places where she has taken shelter," the judges held.
The judges accordingly set aside the order transferring the probe into the FIR from Chandrapur to Pune.
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