The Supreme Court on Tuesday announced that in case of dowry harassment a woman can now file a complaint at any place she has taken a shelter after leaving the matrimonial home. A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi extended the jurisdiction in such cases and allowed women to lodge a case against her in-laws and estranged husband, when any sort of cruelty is done to her, from any place she is residing, as per a report in The Hindustan Times.
This verdict comes as a relief to women who were fighting cases from places, far from their matrimonial home. Till now, women could file a complaint of the harassment from a place where the crime occurred. Now she will be free to file criminal proceedings from anywhere be it a temporary arrangement or from the residence of her parents, The Economics Times reported.
Till now, women could file a complaint of the harassment from a place where the crime occurred.
A woman can now file a complaint under the Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code which states, “The husband or a relative of the husband who is accused of harassing the woman, shall be put to imprisonment for a term which might be extended to three years or so and the accused will also be liable to pay a fine of the amount as decided by the judiciary.”
The three member bench, yesterday said, “The woman, who has been harassed at her matrimonial home and was forced to leave, can lodge a complaint from her current place of residence even if no cruelty has been committed by her husband at that place.”
Rupali Devi’s Petition
Back in 2011, a woman named Rupali Devi had questioned Allahabad Court’s Jurisdiction in 2007 that rejected her complaint that she filed in 2005 from her parent’s house, because then, the complaint had to be lodged only at the place where the crime took place. Back then cruelty against women was not considered to be a criminal offence under 498A.
However, the law now considers cruelty as a continuing offence under the same article 498A, and the modification also enables a woman to file her complaint from any place where she is residing currently.
A petition was then filed by Rupali Devi, to decide whether a woman forced to leave her matrimonial home on account of sexual harassment, dowry, or other forms of cruelty can initiate and access, and attend the trials at the place she is currently residing in, rather than the place of jurisdiction of her matrimonial home.
Anushika Srivastava is an Intern with SheThePeople.Tv