Mother-in-law to take care of her daughter-in-law, rather than harassing, torturing, meting out cruelty: SC convicts 80 Years Old Mother-in-Law

The Supreme Court in the case of Meera v/s State By the Inspector of Police Thiruvotriyur Police Station, Chennai ruled that mother-in-law should take care of her daughter-in-law, rather than harassing, torturing, meting out cruelty to her.

A complaint was lodged by Ramathilagam, mother of the victim therein alleging that all the accused – her son-in-law, his mother, her daughter and father-in-law were harassing the deceased and she was subjected to torture/cruelty for want of jewels. It was alleged that due to which her daughter had immolated herself. She was taken to the hospital, however, she succumbed to the injuries. All the accused were charged for the offences under Sections 498A and 306 IPC. After investigation, the Investigating Officer filed the charge sheet against the accused for the offences under Sections 498A and 306 of IPC.

Senior Advocate Nagamuthu, appearing on behalf of the appellant has vehemently contended that in the facts and circumstances of the case, both, the Trial Court as well as the High Court have erred in holding the appellant guilty for the offence under Section 498A of the IPC. The injuries sustained by the deceased were deep and to the extent of 96%, she would not have been in a position to make any statement.

Alternatively, advocate Nagamuthu prayed that the appellant is an old lady, who is now 80 years old and, therefore, if the Court is not inclined to interfere with the conviction, in that case, a lenient view may be taken while imposing the sentence.

The division bench of Justice M.R. Shah and Justice B.V. Nagarathna noted that the deceased was subjected to torture/cruelty by the appellant mother-in-law with regard to jewels. Mother of the victim in her evidence has clearly stated that her daughter was frequently subjected to harassment by her mother-in-law for not adorning jewels.

The court said that being a lady, the appellant, who was the mother-in-law, ought to have been more sensitive vis-à-vis her daughter-in-law. When an offence has been committed by a woman by meting out cruelty to another woman, i.e., the daughter-in-law. 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. 

While canceling the bail bond of the appellant the court confirmed the original conviction imposed by the Trial Court. However the court reduced the sentence to imprisonment of three months R.I. with fine and the default sentence as imposed by the Trial Court.    

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