Mumbai: Observing that the girlfriend of an estranged husband is not a “relative”, the Bombay High Court has quashed an FIR against a woman who was roped in by the wife in a cruelty case under the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
The court noted that the applicant (girlfriend) is not a relative of the husband and the only allegation against her is that she has an extramarital affair with the husband. It also alleged that the husband is pressuring her for divorce so that he can marry his girlfriend.
Background of the case
The couple married in July 2016. Following disputes, in December 2022, the wife filed an FIR with the Surgana Police Station in Nashik under section 498A (Husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty), 406 (criminal breach of trust), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 504 (Intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace), read with 34 (common intention) of the IPC. She alleged that her husband and his family members subjected her to physical and mental cruelty. She even named the girlfriend in the FIR.
Her advocates, Abhishek Kulkarni and Sagar Wakale submitted that the girlfriend is not a relative or family member of the husband. The allegations in the FIR are that the husband has an extramarital relationship with a woman which has led to frequent quarrels between the couple. The woman has alleged that her husband received messages from his girlfriend and that he intends to marry her, said Kulkarni.
Cruelty on husband's side: HC
The high court relied on a Supreme Court judgment which observed that “living with another woman may be an act of cruelty on the part of the husband for judicial separation or dissolution of marriage but the same would not attract the wrath of Section 498-A (cruelty) of the Penal Code” on the other woman.
“By no stretch of the imagination would a girlfriend or even a concubine in any etymological sense be a “relative”.. Such a status must be conferred either by blood or marriage or adoption. If no marriage has taken place, the question of one being relative of another would not arise,” the apex court had said.
While quashing the case against the girlfriend, the HC said that the allegations in the FIR, even if accepted in entirety, do not disclose any cognisable offence against the girlfriend. “In such circumstances, subjecting her to face criminal prosecution will be an abuse of process of law,” the bench added.