Asking wife to cook properly not ill-treatment: Bombay HC

Asking one’s wife to cook properly or to do household work would not by itself amount to ill-treating her, the Bombay high court has said. The court made the observations while upholding the acquittal of a Sangli resident and his parents, who were accused of driving his wife to commit suicide in a 17-year-old case. The prosecution had claimed that the woman had consumed poison as she was ill-treated and she suspected her husband of having an illicit relationship with another woman.

“Telling the deceased to cook properly or to do her household work properly, by itself, would not mean that she was ill-treated. There is no further evidence to show that the treatment was of such a nature which would fall under harassment or abetment of suicide sections of the IPC,” said Justice Sarang Kotwal. The judge said that the prosecution had not furnished any evidence to prove that the man was in a illicit relationship. “The prosecution has not examined any other family member who could have thrown light on this aspect. In fact, these allegations do not travel beyond the realm of suspicion and therefore, none of the accused can be held responsible for the same.”

The accused, Vijay Shinde, and the deceased had married in 1998. As per the complaint, she had complained of being regularly scolded by her husband and in-laws for not cooking properly or doing household work. Hours before she committed suicide on June 5, 2001, the woman’s grandfather and maternal cousin had visited her matrimonial house and found the couple quarrelling. The grandfather had pacified the couple, but later received a message that his granddaughter had consumed poison. The HC pointed out that the complaint had been lodged the next day as on the day of the death the witnesses had not told the police about any problems.

“The trial judge has rightly held that the FIR was lodged as an afterthought,” said the HC, adding, “The quarrel, if at all it was there, was of not such a serious nature which would have driven the deceased to commit suicide.”

(This article was originally published in The Times of India)

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