NEW DELHI: The Kerala High Court has quashed a case of dowry harassment lodged against live-in partner of a man, saying such a woman can't be considered as relative of husband who can be prosecuted under Section 498 A of the IPC.
A single judge bench of Justice K Babu allowed the plea of the woman against proceedings initiated on the complaint filed by the man's wife.
The woman's counsel said the petitioner was allegedly maintaining a live-in relationship with accused No 1 (man) and that she is not a relative of him as contemplated under Section 498-A of IPC and therefore, the offence under Section 498-A of IPC will not be attracted against her.
Concurring with the contention, the judge said, "I am of the opinion that there will not be a question of prosecution against the petitioner under Section 498-A of IPC. The FIR and the Final Report as against the petitioner shall stand quashed."
Citing the specific language of the Section and the Explanation thereof, the court said it leads to the conclusion that the word 'relative' would not include a woman with whom a man has had sexual relations outside of the marriage.
"By no stretch of imagination, a girlfriend or even a woman who maintains sexual relations with a man outside of marriage in an etymological sense would be a 'relative'. The word 'relative' brings within its purview a status. Such status must be conferred either by blood or marriage, or adoption. If no marriage has taken place, the question of one being relative of another would not arise," the court said.
The bench also relied upon past judgement to conclude S 498A, IPC being a penal provision, would deserve strict construction, and unless a contextual meaning is required to be given to the statute, the said statute has to be construed strictly.