AP HC : 498A Quashed on Territorial jurisdiction

Andhra High Court

T. Balaji Rao
vs
State Of A.P. And Anr. on 3 March, 2006

Equivalent citations: 2006 (1) ALD Cri 725, 2006 CriLJ 3799, I (2007) DMC 297

ORDER P. Lakshmana Reddy, J.

1. This Criminal Petition is filed to quash the proceedings in Calendar Case No. 1319 of 2000 on the file of the III Additional Munsif Magistrate, Tirupathi.

2. The petitioner herein is the accused and the second respondent herein is the de facto complainant in the said C. C. No. 1319 of 2000 and they will hereinafter be referred in this order as accused and the de facto complainant.

3. The relevant facts in brief are as follows:

The marriage between the accused and the de facto complainant took place on 12-8-1998 at Tirupathi and after the marriage on the same day the accused took the de facto complainant to Chennai. On 22-10-1998 the de facto complainant Radharani filed a report in Alipiri Police Station alleging that on the date of the marriage an amount of Rs. 10,000/- and 13 sovereigns of gold were given to the accused by the mother of the de facto complainant besides bearing marriage expenses and from next day onwards the accused, his mother Devaki Bai, his brother Srinu and his relatives Ramdas, Sarojini Bai, Kasturibai, Krishnabai and Sonabai harassed her and also beat her saying that she is illiterate and she brought less dowry and that if she dies they can perform Anr. marriage to the accused No. 1 and get more dowry. She further alleged in the said report that when her mother came to Chennai and invited her to Tirupathi for Brahmotsvam of Lord Venkateswara, the accused and his relatives quarrelled with her and that in the presence of her mother she was beaten and was abused vulgarly and that the accused and his relatives threatened her and took her signatures on some papers and that later they sent her to Tirupathi along with police.

4. Alipiri police registered the said case as Crime No. 177 of 1998 under Section 498-A IPC. Thereafter, Alipiri police submitted final report before the Judicial Magistrate of First Class, Tirupathi referring the case as mistake of fact on 22-1-1999. While the final report was pending consideration before the Magistrate, the de facto complainant approached the Additional Superintendent of Police, Tirupathi and submitted a representation and thereafter the Additional Superintendent of Police made endorsement to the effect that the dowry cases should not be referred on flimsy grounds without permission from the Additional Superintendent of Police, whereupon Alipiri police moved the Magistrate for permission to reopen the investigation and obtained permission and thereafter further investigated and filed charge sheet against the present petitioner and 7 others including his mother and brother arraying them as A-l to A-8 alleging that they harassed the de facto complainant for dowry and subjected the de facto complainant to cruelty and thereby committed the offence punishable under Section 498-A I.P.C.

5. On the said further report, the learned Magistrate took the cognizance of the case against A-1 to A-8. Aggrieved by taking cognizance of the case, the first accused who is the husband of the de facto complainant filed the present application before this Court under Section 482 Cr. P.C. praying this Court to call for the records in C. C. No. 1319 of 2000 from the file of the III Additional Munsif Magistrate, Tirupathi and to quash the same.

6. The accused pleaded in the grounds of petition that it is evident from the complaint lodged by Radharani dated 30-10-1998 that the alleged incident took place at No. 116. Thendral Colony, Anna Nagar (West), Chennai in Tamil Nadu. It is well settled law of Criminal Jurisprudence that there can be no second F. I. R. on the same incident after making a first information report in Thirumangalam Police Station in Tamil Nadu. The first respondent Alipiri Police Station has no jurisdiction to register a complaint on 22-10-1998 on the alleged incident that took place before 21-10-1998 at Chennai. Nothing is stated about the action taken by the Thirumangalam Police Station at Madras. If no action was taken and if the complaint was genuine, nothing prevented the affected party to move the High Court of Madras under Section 482 Cr. P.C. Without taking any action on the complaint given by her mother, she could not be allowed to file a report in Tirupathi in respect of the same cause of action. It is further submitted that the III Additional Munsif Magistrate, Tirupathi has no jurisdiction to try the cases the alleged incident took place at Chennai. It is further stated in the petition that Radharani was brought to Tirupathi at her request with police protection on 20-10-1998 with all her articles and jewels and she went to the house of her uncle P.C. Venugopal Rao residing at No. 90-A, Bazaar Street, Tirupathi and the said Venugopal Rao agreed to take care of Radharani. It is further stated that Radharani’s mother Smt. Varalakshmi Bai had filed a Habeas Corpus Petition No. 1544 of 1998 in the High Court of Madras and in that petition the Inspector of Police, Law and Order, Thirumangalam Police Station, Chennai filed a counter on 20-10-1998 and thereafter the Habeas Corpus Petition was dismissed by the Court on 11-1-1999. The III Additional Munsiff Magistrate, Tirupathi cannot go into the matter that was decided by the High Court of Madras nor sit in judgment on the order of Madras High Court dated 12-10-1998 in W.P. No. 15579 of 1998. Only under the orders of Madras High Court dated 12-10-1998 Radharani was sent back to Tirupathi with adequate police protection. Radharani had availed the benefits of the order-dated 12-10-1998 of the Madras High Court and she brought all belongings to Tirupathi at the time of leaving Madras with police protection. Therefore, the allegation under Section 498-A I.P.C. could not be made out. All averments were made in the complaint of Radharani. Alipiri Police without applying their mind acted at the behest of the Additional Superintendent of Police, Tirupathi and reopened the matter, which was already referred as mistake of fact just to satisfy the higher officials. It is further pleaded in the petition grounds that any trial by the III Additional Munsif Magistrate, Tirupathi would result in wasting the valuable time of the Court besides harassment to the accused affecting his life and liberty without the authority of law.

7. During the course of hearing of the petition, the learned Counsel for the petitioner reiterated the contentions raised in the grounds mentioned in the petition. It is submitted that the alleged acts which constitute the offence took place only at Chennai and none of the ingredients of the offence took place at Tirupathi and therefore Tirupathi police or the Magistrate at Tirupathi has no jurisdiction over the matter and on that ground alone the criminal proceedings are to be quashed. He further submitted that when once the Alipiri police investigated the matter and filed the final report referring it as mistake of fact it has no jurisdiction to reopen the matter at the instance of the Additional Superintendent of Police and file the charge sheet alleging that the accused committed the offence punishable under Section 498-A I.P.C. and Alipiri police at the time of filing charge sheet did not apply their mind and they appear to have filed the charge sheet only to satisfy his superior the Additional Superintendent of Police whom the complainant and her mother influenced. The learned Counsel submitted that the mother of Radharani performed the marriage with the accused against her wishes and therefore Radharani filed the writ petition in the High Court of Madras stating that her foster mother Varalaxmi introduced her in prostitution and exploited her and later one Srinivasan contacted her and married her and that after marriage Srinivasan lived with her in Hyderabad for 3 days and thereafter Varalaxmi Bai sent her with the accused without her consent and she was not allowed to tell the truth to the accused and his family members and a fake marriage was performed without her consent on 12-8-1998 and when she had an opportunity to tell the truth on 24 8-1998 in first night she told the accused the truth and requested him to send her to her husband Srinivasan and requested him not to hand over to her mother Varalaxmi Bai and then the accused did not touch her in the first night and that Varalaxmi Bai came to Chennai on 24-9-1998 and threatened the accused and filed a false complaint in Thirumangalam Police Station and then she appeared in the police station and stated the truth and that she has to be restored to her husband Srinivasan of Tirupathi with police protection and the said writ petition was allowed and Radharani was sent back to Tirupathi. He further submitted that later the mother again prevailed upon Radharani and got a false complaint filed and therefore there is no truth in the allegations made in the complaint and that the police Aliptri without applying their mind revived their earlier stand and filed the charge sheet at the instance of Additional Superintendent of Police without making any further investigation.

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8. On the other hand, the learned Counsel for the second respondent contended that Radharani the de facto complainant is an illiterate and that the writ petition filed on her behalf was stage managed by the accused in order to save themselves from the allegations of harassment alleged against them by the mother of the de facto complainant in Thirumangalam police station and that the accused and his relatives put the illiterate complainant in fear of death and obtained her signatures on blank papers and filed the writ petition on her behalf of making all false allegations therein and that the very same advocate Sri S. Krishnaswamy who is appearing on behalf of the accused had filed the writ petition and therefore the averments of the affidavit filed along with that writ petition cannot at all be given any credence. Regarding the jurisdiction, the counsel submitted that the 164 Cr. P.C. statement of mother of the de facto complainant discloses that on the very date of the marriage the accused and his relatives made further demand for dowry and till the mother of the de facto complainant promised to comply their demand later, the accused did not take her to Chennai and that the very demand for dowry also amounts to harassment and it amounts to cruelty and thus the harassment started at Tirupathi and continued and therefore the Court at Tirupathi has got jurisdiction to entertain the charge sheet filed by the police. She further submitted that Alipiri police after filing the final report and before it was accepted by the Court filed an application seeking permission of the Court for further investigation on account of some material came to light subsequently and the magistrate granted permission and the police made further investigation and filed charge sheet and that the police have got every power to reopen the case for further investigation and then file the charge sheet and that merely because the Additional Superintendent of Police made an endorsement that the dowry harassment cases shall not be referred without his permission, it cannot be said that Alipiri police acted under the influence of Additional Superintendent of Police and without applying their mind, filed the charge sheet. The learned Counsel relied upon the following decisions:

1. Satvinder Kaur v. State .

2. Shobha Rani v. Madhukar Reddi .

9. The counsel further submitted the de facto complainant is an illiterate woman having no father and her mother is very old and that there is no safety for them to prosecute their case in Tamil Nadu and that as the harassment started at Thirupathi, Tirupathi police have got jurisdiction to investigate and file the charge sheet and the Magistrate Court at Tirupathi has got jurisdiction to try the case and there are no merits in the petition and the petition is liable to be dismissed.

10. The points that arise for determination in this petition are:

1. Whether the Magistrate Court at Tirupathi has got Jurisdiction to try the case of alleged harassment punishable under Section 498-A I. P. C?

2. If so, whether Alipiri police are not entitled to reopen the investigation after submitting the final report to the Magistrate and then filing the charge sheet revising their earlier stand?

3. Whether the writ petition filed on behalf of the de facto complainant in Madras High Court disentitles the de facto complainant the very filing the report before the Alipiri police alleging harassment?

4. Whether the proceedings before the III Additional Munsiff Magistrate, Tirupathi are liable to be quashed?

5. To what result?

11. The III Additional Munsif Magistrate, Tirupathi took cognizance of the offence punishable under Section 498-A I.P.C. on the report submitted by the Inspector of Police, Tirupathi (Rural) in Cr. No. 177 of 1998 on the file of Alipiri Police Station under Section 190 (b) Cr. P.C. In the said report it is alleged that the marriage between A-l and the de facto complainant was celebrated at Tiruchanur on 12-8-1998 and on demand by A-1 and his relatives, the mother of de facto complainant gave cash of Rs. 10,000/- and 13 sovereigns of gold towards dowry and that after the marriage A-1 and the de facto complainant along with their relatives went to Chennai to the house of A-1 to lead matrimonial life and immediately after reaching the house of A-1, all the accused started illtreating and harassing the de facto complainant stating that the dowry given to them is very less and further demanded to get additional dowry of Rs. 50,000/- from her parents and that the de facto complainant unable to bear the harassment and ill-treatment contacted her mother by phone and when her mother went to the house of A-l at Chennai to pacify the issue, A-l to A-8 did not agree to receive the de facto complainant unless she brought additional dowry of Rs. 50,000/- and further the accused beat the de facto complainant in the presence of her mother and that observing all those happenings, the mother of the de facto complainant went to Tirumangalam Police Station and further reported the matter to the Commissioner of Police, Chennai but they did not take any action. It is further alleged that A-l to A-8 decided to get rid of the de facto complainant from the house one way or the other, conspired together threatened with dire consequences by putting her in fear of death, obtained signatures on several papers and later used those papers by filling the contents as they like through advocate and filed the same in the police station and also in the High Court of Madras and basing on the manipulated documents obtained directions from the High Court of Madras and basing on the orders of the High Court at Chennai, the de facto complainant was sent back to Tirupathi to the custody of her uncle and thus A-l to A-8 harassed physically and mentally by putting the de facto complainant in fear of death and succeeded in sending her out from the house of A-1 and damaged the matrimonial life of the de facto complainant mercilessly and that after reaching Tirupathi the de facto complainant narrated to her mother and also to her kith and kin as to what happened at her in-law’s house during her stay and with the advise of her mother and relatives she gave report in Alipiri Police Station, Tirupathi and it was registered as Cr. No. 177 of 1998 under Section 498-A I.P.C. and investigated into and that after investigation, the investigating officer basing on the complaint and orders of the High Court of Chennai, the case was referred as mistake of fact on 22-1-1999. It is further alleged that the de facto complainant and her mother waited for some time and as they did not get any justice either from Tamil Nadu Government or from Alipiri Police, approached higher officials for justice and that after considering the difficult condition of the de facto complainant, the Additional Superintendent of Police, Tirupathi issued instructions on 18-5-2000 to reopen the case for further investigation and that as the case was not closed by the Magistrate, with the permission of the Court the further investigation was started and that during the further investigation, the Inspector of Police, Tirupathi (Rural) secured the presence of the de facto complainant and her witnesses (L. Ws. 1 to 8) and got the statements of L. Ws. 1 and 2 recorded under Section 164 Cr. P.C. on 13-10-2000 and that the investigation revealed that A-1 to A-8 being husband of de facto complainant and relatives subjected her physically and mentally and also harassed her demanding further dowry of Rs. 50,000/- and thereby rendered themselves liable for punishment under Section 498-A I.P.C.

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12. So, as seen from the above said allegations, it is clear that the harassment, cruelty and demand for additional dowry etc. by the accused took place only at Chennai and no part of the alleged harassment and cruelty took place at Tirupathi because it is the admitted case of the de facto complainant that the marriage took place on 12-8-1998 and on the same day she was taken to Chennai and that she was sent back to Tirupathi after the alleged harassment and cruelty on 20-10-1998 and on the very next day on 21-10-1998 she gave report in Alipiri Police Station. Even in the report given to the police on 21-10-1998 it is nowhere stated that any acts of harassment or cruelty took place at Tirupathi. It is clearly stated therein that the marriage took place on 12-8-1998 and on the very same day of the marriage she was sent to Chennai and that on the next day onwards her husband and her husband’s relatives started Illtreating her on the ground that she brought less dowry and acted cruelly towards her. The learned Counsel for the second respondent de facto complainant invited my attention to the 164 Cr. P.C. statements of the de facto complainant’s mother wherein she stated that after the marriage the accused demanded dowry and then she replied that she performed the marriage spending huge amount as demanded by them and therefore she is unable to give any further amount and that she will try to adjust later and thereafter the de facto complainant was taken to Chennai. Replying on that statement the counsel contended that on 12-8-1998 at Tirupathi itself they made further demand for dowry and the said demand amounts to cruelty and therefore the harassment started at Tirupathi and hence the magistrate at Tirupathi has got jurisdiction. As seen from Section 498-A I.P.C. mere demand for dowry is not an offence punishable under Section 498-A I.P.C. and Section 498-A I.P.C. attracts only when harassment was made on account of non-compliance of the dowry. There is no such allegation of harassment at Tirupathi. In fact, according to the statement of PW-2 under Section 164 Cr. P.C. that after her inability to pay and promise to try later, the accused took the bride to Chennai and reached there on the same day. Therefore, it cannot be said that any cause of action relating to the offence punishable under Section 498-A I.P.C. commenced at Tirupathi. In a similar case in Mr. Rajaram Venkatesh and Ors. v. The State of A. P. and Ors. 1993 Cri LJ 707 this Court considered about the territorial jurisdiction in respect of the offence punishable under Section 498-A I.P.C. This Court observed that the de facto complainant resides at Kakinada cannot give jurisdiction to the Magistrate at Kakinada to take cognizance for the offence under Section 498-A I.P.C. in the absence of some act subjecting her to cruelty have occurred or taken place at Kakinada. With such observation, this Court held that the Court at Kakinada has no jurisdiction to entertain the case filed under Section 498-A I.P.C. The Apex Court also in a case of similar nature in Y. Abraham Ajith and Ors. v. Inspector of Police, Chennai and Anr. 2004 (3) Crimes 227 : 2004 Cri LJ 4180 (SC) discussed about the venue and place of trial in respect of offence punishable under Section 498-A I.P.C. The facts of that case are that the complainant filed the complaint in the magistrate Court alleging commission of offence punishable under Section 498-A, 406 I.P.C. and Section 4 of Dowry Prohibition Act and the magistrate directed the police to investigate and after investigation charge sheet was filed by the police, then the accused filed an application under Section 492Cr. P.C. before the High Court contending that the concerned Magistrate has no jurisdiction to entertain the complaint even if the allegations contained therein are accepted in toto, as no part of cause of action arose within the jurisdiction of the concerned Court at Chennai and that once the complaint itself disclosed that after 15-4-1997 the respondent left Nagercoil and came to Chennai and was staying there and that all the alleged acts of cruelty took place according to the complainant at Nagercoil and therefore the Courts at Chennai did not have jurisdiction to deal with the matter. The second respondent complainant in that quash petition opposed the said application contending that some of the offences were continuing offences. The High Court dismissed the petition without considering the contention regarding the lack of jurisdiction observing that legal parameters have to be considered after thorough trial after giving due opportunity to the parties. Aggrieved by the dismissal of the quash petition, the accused approached the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court considered in detail the provisions contained in Section 177 and 178 of Cr. P.C. more particularly Section 178(c) Cr. P.C. and also the expression ’cause of action’ in criminal cases which deals with continuing offences and held in the cited case that no part of cause of action in Chennai arose and therefore the concerned magistrate had no jurisdiction to deal with the matter and the proceedings are liable to be quashed and observed that if the complainant so chooses, may file the same in the appropriate Court to be dealt with in accordance with law. While dealing with the continuing offence, the Apex Court referred with approval its observations in State of Bihar v. Deokaran Nenshi and Anr. wherein it is held that continuing offence is one which is susceptible of continuance and is distinguishable from the one which is committed once and for all, that it is one of those offences which arises out of the failure to obey or comply with a rule or its requirement and which involves a penalty, liability continues till compliance, that on every occasion such disobedience or noncompliance occurs or recurs, there is the offence committed.

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13. Here in the instant case, as observed supra, all the acts of alleged cruelty and harassment took place only at Chennai and that immediately after return from Chennai, report was given in the police station. The offence alleged is complete even at Chennai. Therefore, no part of cause of action arose at Tirupathi. Section 178(c) Cr. P.C. has no application to the facts of this case.

14. In a latest case in Ramesh and Ors. v. State of Tamil Nadu 2005 Cri LJ 1732 the Apex Court again considered about the territorial jurisdiction of the magistrate in respect of the offence of cruelty to the wife and demand of dowry and held that most of the acts were committed at Chennai and none of the acts were committed at Trichy where the wife was residing with her parents and therefore Trichy Court has no jurisdiction to try the case.

15. In the instant case also, no acts of alleged harassment and cruelty took place at Tirupathi and therefore the Court at Tirupathi has no jurisdiction.

16. The learned Counsel for the second respondent-complainant relied upon the decision of the Apex Court in Shobha Rani’s case (supra) wherein It is held that the demand of dowry by husband or his parents amounts to cruelty. I have gone through the facts of the cited case. It was a civil case and the wife moved the Court for divorce on the ground of cruelty. The Apex Court considered Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act and held that the cruelty simpliciter is now a ground for divorce under Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act. The Apex Court at paragraph 10 clearly observed that they are not concerned with criminal offence either under Dowry Prohibition Act or under the Indian Penal Code and they are concerned only with a matrimonial conduct that constitutes cruelty, which is a ground for dissolution of marriage. Further, the Apex Court categorically held that in their opinion demand for dowry amounts to cruelty, which enables the wife to get a decree for dissolution of marriage. The Apex Court nowhere stated therein that the mere demand of dowry amounts to ‘cruelty’ defined in Section 498-A I.P.C. Therefore, the said decision is not applicable to the facts of this case. The learned Counsel relied upon Anr. decision of the Apex Court in Satvinder Kaur’s case, 1999 Cri LJ 4566 (supra) wherein it was held that first information report cannot be quashed on the ground that the police station has no territorial jurisdiction to investigate the offence and the police cannot refuse to record F.I.R. or investigate it for want of territorial jurisdiction. The facts of the cited case are entirely different from the facts on hand. The Apex Court in the cited case categorically observed that at the stage of investigation, the F.I.R. cannot be quashed on the ground that the Station House Officer, Police Station was not having territorial jurisdiction and that the material collected by the investigating officer cannot be judicially scrutinized for arriving at a conclusion that station house officer of particular police station would not have territorial jurisdiction.

17. In the instant case, the investigation is already completed and even as per investigation all the acts of alleged cruelty and harassment took place only at Chennai. Therefore, the said decision also does not help the contention of the second respondent-de facto complainant. Even if all the acts alleged in the report and also in the charge sheet are taken as true, no part of cause of action relating to the offence punishable under Section 498-A I.P.C. arose within the jurisdiction of the Court at Tirupathi. Hence, I find considerable force in the contention raised on behalf of the petitioner that the Magistrate Court at Tirupathi has no jurisdiction to try the case. Thus, this point is held accordingly.

POINT NO. 2:

18. In view of the finding on point No. 1, there is no need to answer this point. A perusal of the record discloses that the magistrate has not accepted the final report and further the police reopened the investigation only after obtaining permission from the magistrate. Therefore, it cannot be said that the police have no jurisdiction to reopen the investigation. Thus, this point is answered accordingly.

POINT NO. 3:

19. In view of the finding on point No. 1 that the Court at Tirupathi has no jurisdiction to try the case, the de facto complainant is to be given opportunity to proceed against the accused if she is so advised, at Chennai where the acts constituting the offence took place. Therefore, it is not desirable for this Court to discuss about the merits of the case. There is no need to consider about the orders in the writ petition by the Madras High Court. According to the complainant taking advantage of her illiteracy and by putting her in fear of death obtained her signatures on some papers by the accused and that those papers appears to have been pressed into service to file the writ petition before the Madras High Court on her behalf. In view of the said allegations, it cannot be said that filing of writ petition disentitles the second respondent-complainant to complain in appropriate Court about the alleged acts of cruelty and harassment. Ultimately it is for the Court concerned having jurisdiction to determine the genuineness or otherwise of the allegations made by the second respondent-complainant against her husband even in respect of the alleged filing of the writ petition after obtaining her signatures by coercion on papers. Thus, this point is found accordingly.

POINT NO. 4:

20. In view of the findings on point No. 1, the proceedings before the III Additional Munsif Magistrate, Tirupathi are liable to be quashed giving liberty to the second respondent-de facto complainant to move the appropriate Court for redressal of her grievance. Thus, this point is held accordingly.

POINT NO. 5:

21. In the result, the criminal petition is allowed. The proceedings in Calendar Case No. 1319 of 2000 on the file of the III Additional Munsif Magistrate, Tirupathi are hereby quashed only on the ground of lack of territorial jurisdiction giving liberty to the second respondent-de facto complainant to move the appropriate Court for redressal of her grievance.

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