"Mother-in-law telling married lady to get more perfection in household work is not cruelty": Andhra Pradesh HC

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The high court said that cruelty is not a fact isolated from the environment and background of the spouses.

The Andhra Pradesh High Court recently observed that a married lady being told by her mother-in-law that she requires more perfection in doing or attending to household work can never be said to be cruelty or harassment among family members. 

The bench of Justice VRK Krupa Sagar added that a praise or a comment with reference to the works that are being done is a common factor in any household.

The court was dealing with an appeal filed by a mother and her son in a dowry death case.

Both the appellants had been convicted under Section 304-B read with 34 of IPC and each of them was punished to undergo rigorous imprisonment for a period of ten years.

The charges against the appellants were that they had caused the dowry death of the deceased daughter-in-law by subjecting her to cruelty. The daughter-in-law had died within eight months of her marriage in April 2008.

Moving the appeal, the appellants argued that the deceased daughter-in-law was in fact sick and her sickness was even proved by evidence. They also submitted that the cruelty or harassment with reference to dowry was never established and the death was not proved as a definite result of the injuries allegedly that were there on the dead body of the deceased.

The high court noted that on considering the evidence of various witnesses, the trial court had found the fact as established that the appellants had been complaining that the deceased woman was not doing household work properly and there were several imperfections in her household work.  

The trial court also found it established that the husband had been demanding Rs 50,000 from the deceased to do a computer course which led to her death, the court noted. 

However, while perusing the case record, the high court opined that the facts put together indicated a normal life was being led by the spouses. 

"There has been no criminal history either for the accused or for the prosecution witnesses. Drawing comparisons for marriage celebrations or elders telling the newly married girl about the need for attending household works more efficiently is in no way connected to dowry and cruelty with reference to dowry as mentioned in Section 304-B IPC," the court said.

Court emphasized that cruelty is not a fact isolated from the environment and background of the spouses. "There shall be no speculation or ambiguity in the evidence, " it added.

Court further underscored that from the facts of the case, it could not be established that it was the comments or the demand of Rs 50,000 that had led to the death of the deceased.

In view of this, Court held that there was failure of the prosecution in bringing the alleged conduct of the appellant within the parameters of dowry death that are defined in Section 304-B IPC.

Accordingly, court allowed the criminal appeal and acquitted both the appellants.