Wednesday, September 8, 2010

No indulgence to wives for transfer of criminal cases against husbands: SC

No indulgence to wives for transfer of criminal cases against husbands: SC

Dhananjay Mahapatra, TNN, Sep 8, 2010,

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has been very lenient in entertaining pleas of estranged wives for transfer of matrimonial cases to courts close to their place of stay. But in a recent order, it put its foot down saying the concession would not be given to wives for shifting of trial of dowry harassment cases filed by them under Section 498A of Indian Penal Code against husbands and their relatives.

This assumes significance in the wake of last month's judgment of the apex court firmly telling the government to have a relook at Section 498A saying it was being misused by women to lodge false or exaggerated complaints against husbands and their relatives accusing them of cruel behaviour.

In the case at hand, a woman had sought transfer of the criminal case under Section 498A lodged by her against her husband and his relatives from Hyderabad to Indore, where she had moved after leaving the matrimonial home.

Faulting her for not impleading other accused except her husband, a Bench comprising Justices Aftab Alam and R M Lodha said it was not inclined to transfer a criminal case from one state to another solely on the ground that it would be more convenient for the wife to pursue the matter.

"It is true that in cases of dissolution of marriage, restitution of conjugal rights or maintenance, the Supreme Court shows much indulgence to the wife and ordinarily transfers the case to a place where it would be more convenient to the wife to prosecute the proceedings," the Bench said.

"But a criminal case is on a somewhat different footing. The accused may not be able to attend the court proceedings at Indore for many reasons, one of which may be financial constraints, but the consequences of non-appearance of the accused before the Indore court would be quite drastic," it said.

"Having regard to the consequences of non-appearance of the accused in a criminal trial, we are loath to entertain the petitioner's prayer for transfer. In a criminal proceeding, the right of the accused to a fair trial and a proper opportunity to defend himself cannot be ignored for the convenience of the complainant simply because she happens to be the estranged wife," the Bench said dismissing the transfer petition.

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