A woman should say before her marriage if she does not wish to do household work, the Bombay High Court has observed in a recent judgement, Bar and Bench reported on Thursday.

Justices Vibha Kankanwadi and Rajesh S Patil of the Aurangabad bench of the High Court made the observation while quashing a case filed by a woman who had accused her husband and in-laws of cruelty and physical and mental harassment.

The court held that asking a married woman to do household work does not amount to cruelty and it cannot be equated to the work of a maid, as the complainant had said.

“If she had no wish to do her household activities, then she ought to have told it either prior to the marriage so that the bridegroom can rethink about the marriage itself or if it is after marriage, then such problem ought to have been sorted out earlier,” the judges said.

In her complaint, the woman had alleged that after a month of marriage, her husband and in-laws started demanding Rs 4 lakh from her to buy a car. The husband harassed her physically and mentally when she said that her father cannot afford the amount, the woman alleged, according to Live Law.

On the other hand, the lawyer representing the husband and his family claimed that the woman had a habit of making such allegations. She had made many such complaints against her former husband and his family as well. In all those cases, the accused persons were acquitted or the woman withdrew the cases, the lawyer contended.

To this, the court said that earlier complaints cannot be a reason to hold that the woman had a habit to make allegations in order to get compensation money from her husband and in-laws.

However, the court also said that just the use of the words “harassment mentally and physically” are not enough to hold a person guilty under section Section 498 of the Indian Penal Code (cruelty by husband and his relatives), Bar and Bench reported.

“Unless those acts [of harassment] are described it cannot be concluded that whether those acts amounted to harassment or subjecting a person to cruelty”, the order stated.

The court quashed the first information report filed against the husband and his family, and set aside the ongoing criminal proceedings against them at a local magistrate court.