Matrimonial disputes: India

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S. 498(A) IPC

False complaints

The Times of India

Dhananjay Mahapatra, December 09, 2014

The Supreme Court onsaid false complaints under Section 498A of Indian Penal Code against innocent in-laws alleging cruelty and harassment at matrimonial homes were increasingly making the husbands adamant not to take back their wives.

“For no fault, the in-laws, especially old parents of the husband, are taken to jail the moment a false complaint is filed against them by a woman under Section 498A. By roping in in-laws without a reason and for settling a score with the husband, the false and exaggerated 498A complaints are causing havoc to marriages” said a bench of Chief Justice H L Dattu and A K Sikri.

These comments assume significance as it has been a trend with the SC to seek response from the husband on a mere mention of a petition by a woman in matrimonial disputes. The court also readily transfers a matrimonial case to a place convenient to the wife, brushing aside protests from the husband.

Dismissing a woman's petition, who had appealed against a trial court's decision not to permit her lead evidence against the two brothers of her husband, the CJI said, “There is an increasing hardening of stand among husbands, whose parents had been arrested in false 498A cases, not to take back the wife. They say they are willing to give her all the property , they will take care of the children's education and marriage but will not take her back.“


SC: Hear marital disputes in-camera

Dhananjay Mahapatra, Hear marital disputes in-camera, suggests SC, October 10, 2017: The Times of India

 `Videocon On Joint Plea Only'

In a landmark verdict aimed at keeping matrimonial disputes private and protecting the dignity of women, the Supreme Court on Monday ruled that it would be advisable for family courts to conduct in-camera hearings to resolve differences between husband and wife over divorce, maintenance and custody of children.

“In view of the scheme of the Family Courts Act, 1984, and in particular Section 11, the hearing of matrimonial disputes may have to be conducted in-camera,“ a bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said. Matrimonial disputes in family courts have been a fertile ground for parties to make wild accusations against each other and fight bitterly over custody of children as well as maintenance.

Allowing video-conferencing facility in matrimonial disputes would undermine the sanctity of concepts like constitutional identity , freedom of choice, dignity of a woman and affirmative rights conferred on her by the Constitution, Justice Misra said in the judgment, written on his behalf and that of Justice A M Khanwilkar. Justice D Y Chandrachud penned a dissent note.

Justice Misra said the family court's primary duty was to make every effort for conciliation between estranged couples. “Once a settlement fails and if both parties give consent that a witness can be examined through video-conferencing... when they give consent that it is necessary in a specific factual matrix having regard to the convenience of the parties, the family court may allow the prayer for video-conferencing,“ he said.

In addition, if the family court, after failing to facilitate a settlement between the couple, thinks it would serve justice by permitting video-conferencing to conduct the proceedings, it could so order, the SC said but remained firm that the SC or high courts could not order video-conferencing on a petition filed by a woman seeking transfer of the matrimonial dispute from one place to another.

However, Justice Chandrachud said, “Appropriate deployment of technology facilitates access to justice.Litigation under the Family Courts Act, 1984, is not an exception to this principle. This court must be averse to judicially laying down a restraint on such use of technology which facilitates access to justice to persons in conflict, including those involved in conflicts within the family . Modern technology is above all a facilitator, enabler and leveller.

“Video conferencing is a technology which allows users in different locations to hold face to face meetings.Video conferencing is being used extensively the world over... Video conferencing reduces cost, time, carbon footprint and the like.

“There is a fallacy in the hypothesis that an in-camera trial is inconsistent with the usage of video-conferencing techniques. A trial in-camera postulates the exclusion of the public from the courtroom and allows for restraints on public reporting... The proper adoption of video-conferencing does not negate the postulates of an in-camera trial even if such a trial is required by the court or by one of the parties under Section 11.“

Transfer of cases at wives’ request

The Times of India, Jan 09 2015

Why should hubbies suffer every time: SC

Turns Down Woman's Plea To Shift Case

For two decades, the Supreme Court had mostly acceded to requests of estranged wives to transfer matrimonial disputes to places of their convenience warranting the husbands to make long trips to attend court hearings.

The trend was reversed on Thursday by a bench of Chief Justice H L Dattu and Justice A K Sikri, which admitted that the court had been very lenient to the pleas of wives to put husbands to discomfiture. “Estranged wives seeking transfer of cases, filed by husbands, to their places of residence has become the order of the day . We had become too liberal in acceding to their requests. But the husbands also have a right. Why the husbands should be always made to suffer,“the bench asked and indicated that it would from now on take into account merits of the husbands' plea against such requests by wives seeking transfer of cases.

There had been a rising trend among women in matrimonial disputes to seek transfer of pending cases to places situated far away from the husbands' places of work so as to inconvenience them the most. The court had traditionally accepted the wives' pleas given the social background where the estranged wife generally rushed to her parents' home and that it would be difficult for the parents to foot the cost of travel and litigation cost at a far away place.

The court refused to transfer a matrimonial dispute from Ghaziabad to Betul at the wife's request despite her counsel informing the court that she was a permanent resident of Betul in Madhya Pradesh.

The CJI added, “They take a plea before the court that they may have committed a mistake but for that punishing their old parents on a false complaint was not condonable. The false complaints under Section 498A are ruining marriages. “The court had some advice for women who file complaints under Section 498A. “When you file complaints under Section 498A, be circumspect and truthful. You unnecessarily involve old people in your complaint, you end up ruining the marriage,“ it said.

Husband must attend court wherever wife files case: CJI

The Times of India, Sep 01 2015

Dhananjay Mahapatra

Husband must follow wherever wife files case, says CJI Dattu ust six months after giving hope to estranged husbands that J they need not always be at the receiving end, the Supreme Court said wherever a wife files a case of cruelty in the matrimonial home against her husband, he has to go there and face proceedings. Counsel for an estranged husband facing cases under Section 498A of Indian Penal Code instituted by his wife in Goa told a bench of Chief Justice H L Dattu and Justice Amitava Roy that the alleged incidents of harassment in the matrimonial home happened in UP, the woman's father was a resident of Haryana, yet she chose to file the case in Goa to harass him. When he sought transfer of the case to a mutually convenient place, the bench rejected the argument saying a husband has to travel to the place where the case was instituted by the estranged wife. The CJI said, “In Indian society, we believe that wherever the wife goes, the husband has to faithfully follow her there.“

Women driven out by in-laws can file case anywhere: SC

April 10, 2019: The Times of India

Women can file matrimonial cases, including criminal matters pertaining to cruelty, from the place where they have taken shelter after leaving or being driven out of their matrimonial home, the Supreme Court said on Tuesday.

The verdict came on an appeal filed by Rupali Devi against the Allahabad HC which dismissed her plea to file a dowry harassment case from her parents’ house. The HC order held that cruelty punishable under Section 498A is not a continuing offence, and thus cannot be investigated or punished in a jurisdiction outside the one in which the matrimonial house of the complainant is situated.

The SC bench said: “We... hold that the courts at the place where the wife takes shelter after leaving from the matrimonial home, ...also have jurisdiction to entertain a complaint alleging commission of offences”. PTI

See also

Divorce: India

Matrimonial disputes: India

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