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Married Man’s Girlfriend Cannot Be Prosecuted For Cruelty Under Section 498A, Kerala High Court Observes

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A married man’s girlfriend or a woman with who he maintains a sexual relationship outside his marriage cannot be prosecuted under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Kerala High Court observed recently. Justice K Babu noted that the term “relative” cannot be applied to a married man’s girlfriend under Section 498A in which a wife can file a case against the husband and his relatives for cruelty.

“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,” stated the Court’s order.

The Court further emphasised that Section 498A, being a penal provision, requires strict interpretation, unless a contextual interpretation becomes necessary.

The Kerala High Court made the observations following a petition by a woman who charged under Section 498A read with Section 34 of the IPC. Section 34 pertains to the perpetration of a criminal act carried out with a shared intention.

“These being the facts, 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,” the order stated.

Advocate R Premchand represented the petitioner, while Public Prosecutor MK Pushpalatha appeared on behalf of the State.


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