No conviction for harassment, if there's undue delay in filing complaint: SC

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New Delhi, May 31 (ANI): The Apex court on Saturday ruled that a husband or family member would not be convicted of harassing the wife, if the complaint was made after passage of a considerable time after the alleged act.

A Bench comprising Justices Mukundakam Sharma and B S Chauhan gave this ruling in a case related to Manju Ram Kalita, a resident of Kamrup district in Assam.

The Bench gave this ruling while setting aside the conviction and three-year sentence imposed on a person.

Though the Court quashed the charge against Kalita under Section 498 (harassment of wife by husband or relatives), it upheld his conviction for bigamy (494 IPC).

The Bench observed that the complaint was lodged three years after the alleged harassment. Hence, it could not be sustained.

Kalita's wife Minati had alleged that her husband and his relatives subjected her to mental and physical torture between 1990-1993.

However, Minati lodged her complaint with the police under Section 498A (harassment) only in 1997 and also under Section 494 (bigamy) wherein she alleged that Kalita had married another woman Ranju Sharma.

The trial court convicted and sentenced the husband to two years Rigorous Imprisonment (RI) under Section 498A and three years under Section 494 of the Indian Penal Code. Both the sentences had been ordered to run concurrently.

The Guwahati High Court upheld the conviction following which the husband appealed in the apex court.

The Apex Court, interpreting section 498A, said, "It is to be established that the woman has been subjected to cruelty continuously/persistently or at least in close proximity of time of lodging the complaint.

"Petty quarrels cannot be termed as 'cruelty' to attract the provisions of Section 498-A IPC. Causing mental torture to the extent that it becomes unbearable may be termed as cruelty."

However, the Apex Court sustained the conviction under Section 495 (concealment of former marriage from person with whom subsequent marriage is contracted) as it was a fact which prosecution established. (ANI)

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