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  • The Hon’ble SC has observed that keeping a daughter in law’s jewellery for safekeeping does not constitute cruelty within the meaning of section 498A of IPC.
  • In the instant case, the complainant had filed a case of dowry harassment against her husband and her in-laws after they came to India. The Court passed an interim order restraining them from leaving India.
  • Alleging that there was no allegation of value against him, the brother-in-law moved the Punjab and Haryana HC, but the Court dismissed the plea. Aggrieved, he moved the SC.
  • The SC modified the decision of the lower Court in so far as the brother-in-law was concerned. Noting that the brother was not liable for any acts of cruelty, or any other wrongful acts on the part of his parents or brother (complainant's husband), the Court observed that there is no specific allegation against the brother-in-law except the vague allegation that he and his mother had kept her jewellery.
  • The Court also took note of the fact that the appellant brother lives and works in Texas whereas the complainant and her husband live and work in North Carolina. Them not even living together seriously puts a question as to the alleged involvement of the appellant in the harassment of the complainant.
  • In addition to this, the Court also added that the complainant had not given any particulars of the jewellery that she alleges to have been taken away by the brother-in-law and his mother.
  • The Court also observed that it has not been alleged that the appellant had forcefully taken away and misappropriated the jewellry, or had denied returning the same on the complainant’s request. Merely taking custody of the jewellery for safekeeping does not come within the ambit of section 498A of IPC.
  • Taking note of all the aforesaid circumstances, the Hon’ble SC observed that it would not be fair to confine the appellant (brother-in-law) in India and observed that the order of the HC denying permission to the appellant to leave India was unsustainable and hence was set aside.
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