UAE law: Can I file a case against my husband in Dubai after he abandoned me in India?

If a wife is harassed physically or mentally by her spouse or by the family members of her spouse she may file a criminal complaint



By Ashish Mehta

Published: Sun 31 Oct 2021, 11:09 AM

Last updated: Sun 31 Oct 2021, 11:21 AM

Question: I got married to a Dubai resident on February 1 this year. Our wedding was in India, and I came to Dubai with my husband a month later and stayed together for five months.

During the summer, I came to India to visit my in-laws' house where they asked for dowry from my maternal family. When I refused, they began beating and abusing me. I was harassed and thrown out of the house. My husband, who is still in Dubai, has not been in contact with me for the past 4 months.

Can I come to Dubai and file a case against my husband? Will I get justice from the police authorities?

Answer: Pursuant to your queries, we assume that you and your husband are Indian nationals. As your in-laws are demanding dowry and you are physically abused by them, the provisions of The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 amended by The Dowry Prohibition (Amendment) Act, 1984 and the Dowry Prohibition (Amendment) Act, 1986 (the 'Dowry Prohibition Act of India'), the provisions of The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (the 'Domestic Violence Act of India), and the provisions of The Indian Penal Code, 1860 (the 'Indian Penal Code) are applicable. Further, as you intend to initiate legal action against your husband in Dubai, the provisions of Federal Law No. 28 of 2005 on Personal Status and its subsequent amendments (the 'Personal Status Law of UAE') and the provisions of Federal Law No. (35) of 1992 related to Criminal Procedure Law of UAE (the 'Criminal Procedures Law of UAE') shall be applicable.

If a woman's husband or his family demand dowry from her it is considered a criminal offence in India and is punishable in accordance with the Dowry Prohibition Act of India. Section 3(1) of the Dowry Prohibition Act of India states that "Penalty for giving or taking dowry –

If any person, after the commencement of this Act, gives or takes or abets the giving or taking of dowry, he shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than five years, and with fine which shall not be less than fifteen thousand rupees or the amount of the value of such dowry, whichever is more:

Provided that the Court may, for an adequate and special reason to be recorded in the judgment, impose a sentence of imprisonment of a term of fewer than five years."

Further, if a wife is harassed physically or mentally by her husband or by the family members of her husband she may file a criminal complaint against her husband and his family members at a police station. Section 3 of the Domestic Violence Act of India defines 'Domestic Violence' as "For the purposes of this Act, any act, omission or commission or conduct of the respondent shall constitute domestic violence in case it:

· Harms or injures or endangers the health, safety, life, limb or well-being, whether mental or physical, of the aggrieved person or tends to do so and includes causing physical abuse, sexual abuse, verbal and emotional abuse and economic abuse; or

· Harasses, harms, injures or endangers the aggrieved person with a view to coerce her or any other person related to her to meet any unlawful demand for any dowry or other property or valuable security; or

· Has the effect of threatening the aggrieved person or any person related to her by any conduct mentioned in clause (a) or clause (b); or

· Otherwise injures or causes harm, whether physical or mental, to the aggrieved person."

Further, Section 498(a) of the Indian Penal Code states, "Husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty. — Whoever, being the husband or the relative of the husband of a woman, subjects such woman to cruelty shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine.

Explanation—For the purposes of this section, "cruelty" means—

(a) any wilful conduct which is of such a nature as is likely to drive the woman to commit suicide or to cause grave injury or danger to life, limb or health (whether mental or physical) of the woman;

or

(b) harassment of the woman where such harassment is with a view to coercing her or any person related to her to meet any unlawful demand for any property or valuable security or is on account of failure by her or any person related to her to meet such demand."

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Based on the aforementioned provisions of Indian law, you may file a criminal complaint in India against your husband and his family members at a police station alleging dowry demand and domestic violence.

You may not be able to file a criminal complaint against your husband in Dubai as the demand for dowry and domestic violence against you by your in-laws has been perpetrated in India. The UAE may not have jurisdiction to take up criminal complaints about the offences perpetrated outside the UAE. This is in accordance with Article 142 of the Criminal Procedures Law of UAE, which states, "Jurisdiction shall be determined by the place where the crime occurred."

However, assuming you are still a resident of the UAE you may travel back to the UAE and file a maintenance case against your husband under the provisions of the Personal Status Law of UAE.

You may engage a legal counsel in India as well as in UAE to advise you further on this matter.

Ashish Mehta is the founder and Managing Partner of Ashish Mehta & Associates. He is qualified to practise law in Dubai, the United Kingdom and India. Full details of his firm on: www.amalawyers.com. Readers may e-mail their questions to: news@khaleejtimes.com or send them to Legal View, Khaleej Times, PO Box 11243, Dubai.


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