J&K High Court: Wife from void marriage can file a case for cruelty under Section 498A

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A petition was dismissed challenging a First Information Report (FIR) for an offence of cruelty under Section 498A and has directed police to investigate the matter.

A single Judge Bench of Justice Sanjay Dhar has ruled that under Section 498A of Ranbir Penal Code, a man and his relatives can be prosecuted for the offence of Cruelty even after marriage if such relation with woman was void.

The Jammu & Kashmir Court has held that irrespective of the legitimacy of the marriage, section 498A IPC says when a person enters into a marital arrangement with a woman, he is covered by the definition of ‘Husband’.

Here, the accused Kuldeep Kumar got married to two different women. The petitioner who is the parent, wife of Kumar is a legally wedded wife who filed a plea in court. And, the respondent woman who also a wife of Kuldeep has entered into wedlock about 2 years ago has allegedly complained that her husband and his relatives used to harass her, beaten up and thrown out of her matrimonial home. 

It was, therefore, the case of the petitioners that since the respondent/complainant is not the legally wedded wife of accused Kuldeep Kumar, as such, offence under Section 498A cannot be made out against the petitioners.

It was, therefore, contended by the petitioner that as per Hindu law, a person is prohibited from solemnizing a second marriage during the lifetime of his first wife and in case he does so, the second marriage would be void ab initio.

The Court, however, placed reliance on the judgment of the Supreme Court in A Subhash Babu v State of AP and another [(2011) 7 SCC 616] and held that when a person enters into a marriage arrangement with a woman, he is covered by the definition of ‘Husband’ as contained in Section 498A irrespective of the legality of marriage.

The Court, therefore, dismissed the petition with a direction to the police to investigate the matter. The interim order of stay of proceedings of the impugned FIR was also vacated.

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I am T. Madiha, a final year student of BA.LL.B from Osmania University, Hyderabad. I'm spontaneous, attentive, and a good observer. I always would like to express my prior concern in research & writing skills as it enhance me to grow for the future endeavours in the legal field. I strongly believe in Theodore Roosevelt quote by focusing on my actions rather than words as he once said - "Do what you can with all you have, wherever you are". I have sole interests on various spheres of law and wants to change the societal issues for better world. I love to live in a dynamic environment where people help others to develop their skills, my suggestions have actively been taken up in the same.