Madhya Pradesh High Court: Denying Food Over Dowry Demand Constitutes Harassment

Madhya Pradesh High Court ruled denying food over dowry demand is harassment. In *Nitish Umariya v. State of MP*, FIR upheld for allegations of cruelty against wife. Accusations of adultery highlighted.

In a recent ruling, the Madhya Pradesh High Court emphasized that withholding food from a married woman due to unmet dowry demands amounts to both physical and mental harassment. The bench, headed by Justice Gurpal Singh Ahluwalia, highlighted the significance of providing sustenance to married women and condemned the practice of depriving them of food as a means of coercion.

The case under scrutiny involved a petition filed by the husband and his family members seeking to quash an FIR lodged against them by the wife under sections 498-A, 506, and 34 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) read with section 3/4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act. The petitioner argued that the allegations in the FIR were vague and retaliatory in nature, citing the timing of its filing in relation to a divorce petition initiated by the husband.

However, the High Court, after careful consideration of the facts and allegations, dismissed the petition, asserting that the allegations in the FIR were specific and not vague or general. The Court acknowledged the wife's ordeal, noting that she had been denied access to food by her husband and in-laws, leading to mental anguish. Additionally, the Court highlighted the wife's previous complaints against her husband, including allegations of confiscating her mobile phone and accusing her of adultery.

The Court rebuffed the petitioner's argument that the FIR was filed as a counterblast to the divorce petition, stating, "If the FIR lodged after filing of divorce petition is considered, then it can also be said that the respondent No.2 might be interested in saving her matrimonial life, therefore, she kept quiet and only when she realized that now her husband has gone to the extent where the possibility of reconciliation is bleak, then if she lodges the FIR for the misdeeds done to her than it cannot be said that it is by way of counter blast to the divorce petition."

Furthermore, the Court underscored the seriousness of the husband's accusations of adultery against his wife, highlighting the potential cruelty inflicted upon her. The ruling reaffirmed the importance of ensuring the well-being and dignity of married women, particularly in cases involving dowry harassment and marital discord.