A woman seeking action against her husband and in-laws for harassment will have to approach police station and court where the offence took place.
The Bombay High Court has ruled that a complaint for cruelty will have to be lodged at the place of offence and not at place where the woman lives after leaving her matrimonial home.
Justice B.R. Gavai transferred the case under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) against Shekhar Mahire, his parents and two sisters, from Sahada in Nandurbar to Nashik.
After leaving her matrimonial home at Nashik, Mahire’s wife Sarikabai went to stay with her parents at Sahada in 2007.
Sarikabai lodged a complaint under section 498A (husband and his relatives subjecting woman to cruelty) of the Indian Penal Code in a police station at Sahada. The local court at Sahada had taken cognisance of the compliant and initiated criminal proceedings against the Mahire, his parents and his two sisters, who are married.
In 2008, the accused approached the high court seeking transfer of the case from Sahada to Nashik. They claimed that the alleged offence took place at Nashik and so only Nashik court had jurisdiction to try the case.
Senior counsel Ashok Mundargi, appointed amicus curie (friend of court), said the criminal procedure code (CrPC) states that every offence shall ordinarily be inquired into and tried by a court within whose jurisdiction it was committed.
The CrPC has laid down certain exceptions in offences in which it is not necessary to lodge the compliant at the place of offence. Section 498A does not feature among these exception, and so it cannot be lodged at a place other than the place of offence, Mundargi said.
Justice Gavai said the allegations pertain to the matrimonial home of Sarikabai at Nashik, and hence the proceedings at Sahada are not tenable.
“It would be in the interest of justice to transfer the proceedings from the court of judicial magistrate first class Sahada to the court of learned Chief Judicial Magistrate, Nashik,” said the high court.
The HC has stayed the transfer of the case for eight weeks to allow Sarika to move Supreme Court.