Merely Commenting About Lack Of Woman's Cooking Skills Not 'Cruelty' U/S 498A IPC: Bombay High Court

Chambers of Ishaan Garg

Ch. No. 217, Western Wing, District & Sessions Court, Tis Hazari, New Delhi, Delhi 110054

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The Bombay High Court recently ruled that commenting that a woman doesn't know how to cook is not cruelty and would not constitute an offence under section 498A of the Indian Penal Code.

“In the instant case, the only allegation levelled against these Petitioners is that they had commented that Respondent No.2 does not know how to cook. Such comment does not constitute 'cruelty' within the meaning of the Explanation to Section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code.

A division bench comprising Justice Anuja Prabhudessai and Justice N.R. Borkar quashed an FIR registered under section 498A against two brothers-in-law for allegedly commenting that the complainant did not know how to cook.

The court observed that petty quarrels do not constitute 'cruelty' within the meaning of section 498A. To constitute an offence under this section, there must be prima facie material to prove willful conduct likely to drive the woman to commit suicide or cause grave injury, and that she was harassed to satisfy unlawful dowry demands.

The bench relied on the Supreme Court judgment in Manju Ram Kalita v. State of Assam, which held that cruelty has to be established as having occurred continuously or persistently, at least in close proximity to the complaint being filed.

In the present case, the court found that the only accusation against the petitioners was that they had commented on the complainant's lack of cooking skills. This did not amount to the level of 'cruelty' envisaged under section 498A.

Exercising its inherent powers under Article 226 of the Constitution and section 482 CrPC, the High Court quashed the FIR against the petitioners. It observed that continuing the criminal proceedings would amount to an abuse of process.