The Jharkhand High Court has emphasized that petty quarrels cannot be termed as cruelty to attract the provisions of Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code.

In that context, the Bench of Justice Pradeep Kumar Srivastava observed that, "“for the purpose of Section 498-A IPC is to be established in the contest of Section 498-A IPC as it may be different from other statutory provisions. It should be determined by considering the conduct of the man, weighing the gravity or seriousness of his acts and to find out as to whether it is likely to drive the women to commit suicide, etc. It is to be established that the women has been subjected to cruelty continuously or at least enclose proximity of time of lodging the complainant. Petty quarrels cannot be termed as 'cruelty' to attract the provisions of Section 498-A IPC."

The prosecution case is as follows: The informant married the accused according to Hindu rites and customs. The accused allegedly demanded Rs. 28,000 from the informant's parents for Karma Puja and subjected her to mental and physical harassment. The informant called her father to negotiate, but the accused stopped talking to her. Later, the informant was brutally assaulted, tied to a cot, and exposed to smoke from chili and mustard seeds, causing her to lose consciousness. Her father was also mistreated when he arrived and asked the Petitioner and his family to treat her with dignity. The informant was then forced to leave her matrimonial home and return to her parental home with her father. Attempts by the informant's father to resolve the matter through a panchayat failed as the accused insisted on a second marriage. Consequently, an FIR was registered, and the trial court convicted the accused under Section 498A IPC. The accused's appeal to the District and Additional Sessions Judge-II was dismissed, leading to the current criminal revision.

The Petitioner-accused argued that other family members were acquitted based on the same evidence, yet he was found guilty. He also noted that the informant remarried during the trial, suggesting her unwillingness to live with him. Lastly, the Petitioner claimed that no incriminating circumstances constituting the offense under Section 498-A IPC were presented to him in his statement under Section 313 Cr.P.C.

The Court observed that, "Having regard to facts and circumstances of the case, nature of offence committed by the petitioner, his character, antecedents and other relevant factors surfaced during trial it appears expedient in the interest of Justice to release the petitioner extending the benefit of Section 4 Probation of Offenders Act, 1958 instead of awarding immediate sentence of imprisonment inflicted by learned trial court."

Accordingly, the Court directed that the petitioner-accused be released on probation of good conduct and behaviour, and maintain peace for 3 years by furnishing a bond.

Cause Title: Suresh Thakur vs The State of Jharkhand & Anr.

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