The Supreme Court Wednesday went an extra mile in reuniting an Andhra Pradesh-based estranged couple involved in a bitter legal battle for last 21 years with a history of failed mediations by making the wife to agree to withdraw her plea seeking enhancement of jail term for her husband in a dowry harassment case.
Chief Justice N V Ramana, heading the bench which also comprised Justice Surya Kant, took the special efforts by seeking the presence of feuding spouses for an interaction before it through video conferencing.
As the woman was not comfortable in speaking English, the official language of the apex court, the CJI conversed in Telugu and also explained her statements to fellow judge.
“If your husband goes to jail you will lose the monthly compensation as he will lose his job,” the CJI told the woman who has moved the top court for enhancement of jail term for her husband.
Lawyer D Ramakrishna Reddy, appearing for the husband, a state government employee at Guntur district in the state, said the CJI explained the legal situation to the woman in Telugu making it clear that the enhancement of the jail term was not going to help either of the spouses.
“If we enhance the jail term what benefit you will get … you may have to forego the monthly compensation,” Reddy said quoting the CJI.
The woman heard CJI’s advice patiently and instantly agreed to live with her spouse provided she and their only son are maintained properly by her husband.
The top court then asked both the spouses to file separate affidavits in two weeks giving the undertaking that they want to live together.
The wife has undertaken to withdraw her appeal against the high court verdict by filing an application to compound the dowry harassment case against her husband who, in turn, will be withdrawing his plea seeking grant of divorce decree from a trial court in Andhra Pradesh.
The offence of dowry harassment under section 498A of the IPC is a compoundable offence in Andhra Pradesh only and in rest of India, parties cannot settle such cases on their own.
The top court was hearing the appeal of the woman against the Andhra Pradesh High Court order by which though the conviction of her husband was upheld, but the jail term of one year, awarded by courts below, was reduced to the period undergone in prison by him.
Prior to this, the trial court, in 2002, had convicted the husband under section 498A (dowry harassment) under the IPC and had awarded a jail term of one year besides imposing a fine. It however had acquitted her mother-in-law and the sister-in-law of same charge.
The appeal of the husband against the judgment was rejected by the revision court.
Against this, a plea was moved in the high court which upheld the conviction while reducing the one year jail term to the period undergone by him in prison earlier. The wife wanted enhancement of the jail term.
The couple had got married in 1998 and their relationship soured leading to filing of the criminal case by the woman in 2001. The litigation saw failing of several mediation bids at the instance of courts.