Woman Taking Valuables With Her On Separation Is Not Crime: Calcutta HC

The Calcutta High Court dismissed the criminal proceedings against a woman. The husband allegedly accused her of stealing gold ornaments from her matrimonial home. 

Kalyani Ganesan
New Update
wife to pay alimony, Bombay High Court on Consent, landmark court judgements women rights 2021 ,Kottiyoor Rape Case, dirty message before marriage, Court dissolves marriage, CBSE Topper Gangrape Case ,UP man sentenced to death, stalking allegation against Sanjay Raut ,Women's Allegations Against Sanjay Raut ,Calcutta HC religious conversions, sex pretext marriage rape, Bombay High Court prostitution, Dirty message to fiance

Image Credits: File Photo Woman Taking Valuables With Her On Separation Is Not a Crime: Calcutta HC

The Calcutta High Court recently dismissed the criminal proceedings initiated against a woman by her husband. The man allegedly accused her of stealing gold ornaments and valuables from her matrimonial home. 

Justice Shampa (Dutt) Paul observed that the ornaments which the woman was accused of stealing were "worn by traditional Bengali married women on a regular basis." The judge noted that the woman had left her matrimonial home after 29 years of marriage with one bala (bangle), one loha, a parr of pola covered with gold, a pair of sankhabadhano churi covered with gold (all of the above are marriage ornaments), two mobile phones, one gold chain, and one necklace. The woman had also taken her son along with her.

Calcutta HC On Woman's Matrimonial Jewellery 

The judge further explained that a Bengali married woman choose to wear these ornaments since her marriage and the phones might be for her own use. Hence, it cannot be the basis of a criminal case, especially between a couple who have been married for 29 years. The court ruled that these allegations clearly do not make a case under the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

The petitioner (woman) had been married to the complainant since 1999, and due to "tremendous torture since marriage," she lodged a complaint on May 14, 2019, at the Lake Police Station. 

The petitioner submitted that her husband, a practising advocate at Alipoe Police Court, filed a case against her under Section 420 of the IPC for theft. She said that the husband initiated numerous "malicious" criminal proceedings against her and had even preferred an application under Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Proceedings but later withdrew it.

She also submitted an application for dissolution of marriage with the complainant, which was still pending because of her husband’s influence as a practising advocate. She said it was difficult to find legal representation for herself. In light of the findings, the court affirmed her right to legal representation and quashed the criminal case against her.


Why Women Cannot Be Denied Rights Over Marriage Ornaments

It's a door-to-door story of many Indian households where the husband or in-laws outrightly take the woman’s ornaments, pledge them, or sell them to address their financial needs. No one even bothers to ask the woman because they believe that after Kanyadaan (an Indian wedding ritual), they own the bride and the materialistic things she brings along.

Being a divorced woman, I have experienced this and have heard incidents from fellow women about how low some spouses and in-laws can stoop for valuables. Women are judged at their in-law's houses by the amount of dowry they bring, and once brought into the matrimonial home, there’s no way of going out. Getting back the dowry, aka gifts, or any jewellery that belongs to the woman in the event of a divorce is an exhausting task!

In this case, even if all the mentioned marriage ornaments were bought by the woman’s husband, doesn’t she have the right over those jewels after 29 years of marriage? Compared to the unpaid domestic labour the woman would have put in all these years, the jewels are the bare minimum to give back. Calcutta High Court has given a fair verdict despite the woman’s husband being a practising advocate, which would give him the power to influence people. Such cases will help establish people’s faith in the judiciary.

Suggested Reading: Stigma Discourages Survivors From Disclosing Assault: Calcutta HC

Views expressed by the author are their own

Calcutta High Court Woman's Matrimonial Jewellery