Supreme Court: In a case where a woman committed suicide in her matrimonial home after being subjected to cruelty at the hands of her husband, mother-in-law, father-in-law and sister-in-law for want of jewels, the bench of MR Shah* and BV Nagarathna, JJ observed that when an offence has been committed by a woman by meting out cruelty to another woman, i.e., the daughter-in-law, it becomes a more serious offence and hence, the mother-in-law did not deserve any leniency.
The Court also observed that,
“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.”
In the present case, even the husband of the victim was staying abroad. The victim was staying all alone with her in-laws. In such circumstances, the Court noticed that it was the duty of the appellant, being 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.
Finding the mother-in-law to be guilty for the offence under Section 498A of IPC, the Court further noticed that just because the incident is of the year 2006 and a 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.
However, considering the fact that the incident is of the year 2006 and at present the appellant was 80 years old, as a mitigating circumstance, the Court reduced the sentence from one year R.I. to three months R.I.
[Meera v. State, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 31, decided on 11.01.2022]
*Judgment by: Justice MR Shah
For appellant: Senior Advocate S. Nagamuthu