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Distant Relatives can also be booked for harassing wife: Bombay High Court

Sonal Bhargava | Prabhat Bandhulya

The Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court, in the case of Rajesh Himmat Pundkar vs State of Maharashtra recently refused to quash a First Information Report (FIR) lodged against the relatives of a man in a Section 498A case, saying that many a time, relatives living in distant places also meddle in the affairs of a couple and harass the wife. A division bench consisting of Justices Sunil Shukre and Govind Sanap was hearing a petition filed by a husband, his parents, and siblings seeking to have a FIR filed against them dismissed. While the spouse lived in Akola district, his parents and a married sister were in Amravati district, and his younger brother was from Pune City, according to the accused. They claimed that because they did not reside with the applicant-husband, the claims levelled against them as in-laws or relatives of the husband could not be considered accurate. On two grounds, the Court refused to accept the argument in an order issued on June 8. "Firstly, there is no presumption in law that a relative living at a distance is always innocent, unless proved otherwise. A relative staying away from the husband and wife can and has been seen in many cases meddling in affairs of the married couple and that too of such a nature and to such an extent, as to amount to real harassment," the judges held. Furthermore, the bench stated that the inquiry into the case was still ongoing and that further evidence could emerge as a result of further investigation. The pair have three children after marrying in 2007. However, the wife discovered in 2017 that her husband was having an extramarital affair. He assaulted her after she confronted him. In terms of the in-laws, the wife said in her FIR that when she notified her husband's parents and siblings about his extramarital affair, they began abusing her instead of restraining his behaviour. In addition, the in-laws demanded a dowry payment of Rs 50,000. The bench emphasised that particular responsibilities had been assigned to every one of the defendants in the case, based on the allegations in the FIR. It was decided that there had been no broad or general omnibus remarks made against the in-laws, establishing a prima facie case against them. As a result, the Court refused to quash the FIR.

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