[Section 498A IPC] Duty of mother-in-law to take care of daughter-in-law, rather than torturing her: Supreme Court upholds conviction of 80-year old 

  • Aishwarya Iyer
  • 12:42 PM, 12 Jan 2022

Remarking that it is the duty of the mother-in-law and her family to take care of her daughter-in-law, rather than harassing and/or torturing and/or meting out cruelty to her daughter-in-law regarding jewels or on other issues, the top Court upheld the conviction of an 80-year old woman for the commission of an offence under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code.

In the present case, the court while noting that even the husband of the victim was staying abroad and the victim was staying all alone with her in-laws, opined that it was the duty of the appellant, being the mother-in-law to take care of her daughter-in-law.

"Being a lady, the appellant, who was the mother-in-law, ought to have been more sensitive vis-à-vis her daughter-in-law. When an offence has been committed by a woman by 6 meting out cruelty to another woman, i.e., the daughter-in-law, it becomes a more serious offence. If a lady, i.e., the mother-in-law herein does not protect another lady, the other lady, i.e., daughter-in-law would become vulnerable....", observed a bench of Justices MR Shah and BV Nagarathna.

An appeal was filed by one Meera, the mother-in-law of the deceased, against an order passed by the Madras High Court by which it had dismissed her appeal upholding the judgment and order passed by the Trial Court convicting her for the offence under Section 498A IPC.

While dealing with the submission made on behalf of the accused to take a lenient view looking to her age, the bench noted that as such the Trial Court had imposed the sentence of one year R.I. for the offence under Section 498A. However, the punishment could have been upto three years R.I.

"At the time when the incident occurred, the appellant was approximately between 60-65 years. The incident is of the year 2006. Therefore, merely because long time has passed in concluding the trial and/or deciding the appeal by the High Court, is no ground not to impose the punishment and/or to impose the sentence already undergone", said the Court.

Relying on the facts of the case, the bench held that no leniency was required to be shown to the appellant.

"There must be some punishment for the reasons stated hereinabove. However, considering the fact that the incident is of the year 2006 and at present the appellant is reported to be approximately 80 years old, in the peculiar facts and circumstances of the case, as a mitigating circumstance, we propose to reduce the sentence from one year R.I. to three months R.I. with fine imposed by the Trial Court to be maintained....", ordered the court.

Thus while allowing the appeal partly, the court went on to cancer the bail bond and directed the appellant to surrender before the appropriate Court / jail authority to undergo the sentence as per the present order within a period of four weeks.

Cause Title: Meera v State By the Inspector of Police Thiruvotriyur Police Station Chennai