IN THE HIGH COURT OF PUNJAB & HARYANA AT CHANDIGARH
CRM No.M-18643 of 2008
Date of Decision:- 21.2.2012
Smt.Sunita Goyal & Ors. …Petitioners
State of Punjab & Anr. …Respondents
CORAM: HON’BLE MR.JUSTICE MEHINDER SINGH SULLAR
Present:- Mr.Akshay Bhan, Advocate for the petitioners.
Mr.Palwinder Singh, Senior DAG Punjab for respondent No.1.
Mr.Ashok Singla, Advocate for
Mr.Ravish Bansal, Advocate for respondent No.2.
Mehinder Singh Sullar, J. (Oral)
Petitioners Smt.Sunita Goyal, Vijay Goyal, unfortunate parents-in- law and Abhishek Goyal, brother-in-law (Devar) of complainant Soni Goyal, wife of Mahavir Goyal respondent No.2 (for brevity “the complainant”), have directed the instant petition for quashing the impugned FIR, bearing No.246 dated 15.9.2007 (Annexure P5), registered against them, on accusation of having committed the offences punishable under Sections 406, 498-A, 323, 506 and 120- B IPC by the police of Police Station Division No.5, Ludhiana.
2. Concisely, the facts and material, which need a necessary mention, relevant for the limited purpose of deciding the core controversy, involved in the present petition and emanating from the record, are that the marriage of the complainant was solemnized with Mahavir Goyal (husband non-accused) in the month of September, 2002, according to Hindu rites and ceremonies at Sangrur. The father of the complainant was stated to have given a Maruti Zen Car, jewellery, weighing 80 Tolas, cash and dowry beyond his capacity at the time of her marriage, but her in-laws were not satisfied with the (given) dowry articles. They started harassing, maltreating her and demanded more dowry articles. It was claimed that although the cash amount of Rs.2,50,000/- was given, but her in-laws kept on harassing her. She and her husband also apprehend danger to their lives at the hands of the petitioners. On 30.8.2007 at 8 A.M., they were stated to have given severe and merciless beatings to the complainant and her husband Mahavir Goyal. The matter was reported to the police, where DDR No.12 dated 31.8.2007 was entered, but no action was taken by the police against them.
3. Levelling a variety of allegations and narrating the sequence of events, in all, the complainant claimed that the petitioners have harassed, treated her with cruelty in connection with and on account of demand of dowry and gave severe beatings to her as well as to her husband on 30.8.2007. In the background of these allegations and in the wake of complaint of the complainant, the present case was registered against the petitioners-accused, by virtue of FIR (Annexure P5) in the manner indicated hereinabove.
4. The petitioners did not feel satisfied with the initiation of criminal prosecution against them and preferred the instant petition, for quashing the FIR (Annexure P5) and all other subsequent proceedings arising therefrom, invoking the provisions of Section 482 Cr.PC inter-alia on the grounds (i) that the impugned FIR (Annexure P5) has been registered ostensibly on the complaint of Soni Goyal in furtherance to the oblique motive of aforesaid Mahavir Goyal, Soni Goyal and Chuhar Lal Garg by misusing the provisions of Sections 406 and 498-A of I.P.C. The impugned FIR was got registered as a counter-blast and in retaliation to the aforesaid complaint dated 30.08.2007 (Annexure P1) lodged by petitioner no.2 with P.S. Division No.5, Ludhiana under Section 384 read with section 120-B of I.P.C. against Mahavir Goyal, Soni Goyal and Chuhar Lal Goyal and also as a counter-blast to the disassociation and de-linking of Mahavir Goyal by petitioner no.2 from their property and the filing of the civil suit (Annexure P4) by petitioner no.1 against Mahavir Goyal and Soni Goyal; (ii) the criminal case was lodged by the complainant with the sole intention to pressurize and blackmail them to transfer their property in the name of her husband Mahavir Goyal; (iii) the allegations in the FIR are absolutely concocted, false, frivolous and evince the element of malafide, after thought and maliciously & vexatiously registered against the petitioners in order to wreak vengeance and the incident of 30.8.2007 and story of payment of Rs.2,50,000/- were concocted by the complainant party;
(iv) the complainant has concealed the fact that the Zen car has already been transferred in the name of Soni Goyal (complainant) on 22.4.2008, as per the transfer report/documents (Annexure P9 colly); (v) the dowry articles given at the time of marriage have already been given to the complainant, vide letter (Annexure P10). She did not make any grievance against the petitioners during five years after her marriage. As soon as, petitioner No.2 refused to part and disowned the husband of the complainant from his property, then she filed the false criminal case against them in order to take the revenge and no offence whatsoever is made out against the petitioners. On the strength of aforesaid grounds, the petitioners sought to quash the criminal prosecution against them, as depicted hereinbefore.
5. The complainant-respondent No.2 did not file any reply to deny the specific personal allegations contained in the petition. However, the DSP Crime filed the reply on behalf of State of Punjab (respondent No.1), taking certain preliminary objections of, maintainability of the petition, cause of action and locus standi of the petitioners. According to the prosecution that as per the inquiry report (Annexure R1/T) and during the course of investigation, both the parties were called and the complainant’s father-in-law agreed to give the share of Rs.25 lacs from his property to Mahavir Goyal, husband of the complainant, out of which, Rs.10 lacs were already taken by him (husband) and the remaining amount was to be paid subsequently. Consequently, the complainant and her husband agreed to shift to residential HIG Flat No.11-FF, opposite Khalsa College, Ludhiana, as per report (Annexure P13). Instead of reproducing the entire contents of the reply and in order to avoid the repetition, suffice it to say that the State of Punjab has reiterated the allegations contained in the impugned FIR (Annexure P5). However, it will not be out of place to mention here that it has stoutly denied all other allegations contained in the main petition and prayed for its dismissal. That is how I am seized of the matter.
6. Having heard the learned counsel for the parties, having gone through the record with their valuable help and after bestowal of thoughts over the entire matter, to my mind, the instant petition deserves to be accepted in this context.
7. Ex facie, the celebrated argument of learned counsel that since there are direct allegations of cruelty, maltreatment and harassment to the complainant by the petitioners, so, no ground for quashing the criminal prosecution against them is made out, is neither tenable nor the observations of Hon’ble Supreme Court in case Central Bureau of Investigation v. K.M.Sharan 2008(4) S.C.C. 471, are at all applicable to the facts of the present case, wherein a criminal case was registered against the then Vice Chairman of the Delhi Development Authority and other senior officials for entering into conspiracy with Dharmbir Khattar and others to give undue favour to M/s DLF Universal Limited, New Delhi in the matter of allowing 300 Floor Area Ratio (FRA) in respect of one of the projects of DLF Universal by charging rates much below the prevailing rates and obtained or agreed to obtain illegal gratification from M/s DLF as quid pro quo. The total bribe amount was 1.10 crores. During the course of investigation and subsequent search conducted at the residence of son of one of the accused A.M.Sharan, who was at that time, Commissioner (Land Disposal, DDA), certain papers/documents relating to assets acquired/expenses incurred by him and his family members besides the cash amount of Rs.36 lacs were recovered and seized by the CBI. The CBI collected sufficient oral as well as documentary evidence constituting the grave offences. On the peculiar facts and in the special circumstances of that case, it was observed that “where there are direct allegations and evidence to support the criminal offence, the High Court was not justified in quashing the FIR/charge sheet while exercising its extraordinary jurisdiction under Section 482 Cr.PC.”
8. Possibly, no one can dispute with regard to the aforesaid observations, but to me, the same would not come to the rescue of the complainant in the present controversy, particularly when the Hon’ble Apex Court in cases Dhariwal Tobaco Products Limited and others v. State of Maharashtra and another, 2009(2) SCC 370; M/s Pepsi Foods Limited v. Special Judicial Magistrate 1998(5) SCC 749; Ashok Chaturvedi v. Shitul H.Chanchani 1998(7) SCC 698 and Central Bureau of Investigation v. Ravi Shankar Srivastava (2006)7 SCC 188 has ruled that “whenever the High Court comes to the conclusion that allowing the criminal prosecution to continue would be an abuse of the process of court and that, the ends of justice require that the proceedings should be quashed, it would not hesitate to do so, in exercise of inherent powers irrespective of other factors.”
9. Such thus being the legal position and material on record, now the short and significant question, though important that, arises for determination in this petition is, as to whether the criminal prosecution initiated against the petitioners deserves to be quashed or not under the present set of circumstances?
10. Having regard to the rival contentions of learned counsel for the parties, to my mind, the answer must obviously be in the affirmative and the criminal prosecution cannot be permitted to continue in this respect.
11. As is evident from the record, that the marriage of complainant was solemnized with Mahavir Goyal (husband non-accused) in the month of September, 2002, according to Hindu rites and ceremonies at Sangrur. The father of the complainant was stated to have given a Maruti Zen Car, jewellery,weighing 80 Tolas, cash and dowry beyond his capacity at the time of her marriage, but her in-laws were not satisfied with the (given) dowry articles. They started harassing, maltreating her and demanded more dowry articles. Although the cash amount of Rs.2,50,000/- was given, but her in-laws kept on harassing her. She is working as a teacher in National College, Dakhan. Petitioner Nos.1 and 2 are her parents-in-law, whereas petitioner No.3 is her brother-in-law (Devar). She has not intentionally arrayed her husband Mahavir Goyal in a dowry related case in the array of the accused. According to the petitioners that on 30.8.2007, Mahavir Goyal and his wife (complainant) created nuisance in the house, broke the crockery & centre table and threatened the petitioners that in case the half share of the property and the money were not given to them, they would falsely implicate them in some false criminal case. Petitioner No.2 objected to it, then his son Mahavir Goyal, husband of the complainant, slapped him (his father petitioner No.2). The matter was reported to the police by petitioner No.2, through the medium of complaint of same date (Annexure P1). So much so, he disowned his son Mahavir Goyal from his whole movable and immovable properties and published the notice dated 1.9.2007 (Annexure P2) in Hindustan Times, Chandigarh in this connection. At the same time, in order to avoid the possibility of false implication, Sunita Goyal (petitioner No.1) wrote a UPC letter dated 3.9.2007 (Annexure P3 colly), asking her daughter-in-law (complainant) to take all the dowry articles and her other belongings.
12. Not only that, petitioner No.1 filed a civil suit for a decree of permanent injunction restraining the complainant and her husband Mahavir Goyal from interfering in the peaceful possession of their residential house, by way of plaint (Annexure P4 colly). Admittedly, in civil suit, bearing No.206 dated 13.9.2007 filed by petitioner No.1, counsel for the complainant and her husband (defendants therein) suffered a separate statement that they shall not interfere in the possession of the plaintiff in the suit property and they have no objection in case her (petitioner No.1) suit is decreed to that extent. In this manner, on the basis of statements of the parties, the suit of petitioner No.1 was decreed and the complainant and her husband were restrained from interfering in her possession over the suit property, vide order dated 28.7.2010 (copy taken on record as Annexure P14).
13. It is not a matter of dispute that neither the complainant nor her husband made any complaint, raising any accusing finger towards the petitioners at any point of time before lodging the FIR (Annexure P5) nor made any such averment/statement during the course of pendency of the civil suit between them. Therefore, the arguments of learned counsel that the petitioners have been falsely implicated to pressurize and blackmail them to transfer the property and the complainant has lodged the false criminal case against them (intentionally excluding her husband in dowry related matter) vexatiously and maliciously in order to wreak vengeance, have considerable force.
14. The matter did not rest there. Even as per the FIR (Annexure P5), the father of the complainant gave a Maruti Zen Car and gold jewellery, weighing 80 Tolas besides cash. It was also alleged that the petitioners demanded more dowry articles and her father gave Rs.2,50,000/- in cash to them. That means, very very vague allegations of demand of dowry and payment of indicated amount are assigned to the petitioners. Above-all, the mere fact that the complainant did not name her husband as accused that the dowry articles were entrusted to him at the time of marriage or he has also demanded the more dowry articles, is indicative of the fact that she colluded with her husband and lodged a false complaint, on the basis of which, the FIR (Annexure P5) was registered against the petitioners without any material/evidence muchless cogent in this behalf.
15. Moreover, the indicated Zen car has already been transferred in the name of complainant, by means of transfer of ownership report/documents (Annexure P9 colly). The petitioners have specifically mentioned in their petition that whatever dowry articles were given at the time of marriage of complainant, have already been given to her, vide Annexure P10 (colly). That is the only reason that the complainant intentionally did not file any reply to controvert all these vital personal aspects of the matter contained in the main petition, for the reasons best known to her. In this manner, no overt act or specific role, except one minor incident of 30.8.2007, which appear to have been concocted after the complaint (Annexure P1) of petitioner No.2 and notice (Annexure P2), are attributed to the petitioners. It is very highly impossible to believe that the petitioners would treat the complainant with cruelty or demand the dowry articles from her in the absence of her husband. She appears to have intentionally colluded with her husband in order to grab the property in this regard as discussed hereinabove.
16. It is now well settled proposition of law that, in order to attract the penal provisions of the offences punishable under Sections 406 and 498-A IPC, there must be specific allegations/overt acts and prima facie material against the petitioners to indicate that the dowry articles were actually entrusted to them and they have misappropriated the same or they further demanded any dowry articles and evidence in support thereof. All other relatives of the husband cannot, in all cases, be held to be involved in the demand of dowry, especially when in this case, the husband of the complainant is not an accused. In cases, where such accusation is made, the overt acts attributed to persons, other than husband, are required to be prima facie established. By mere conjectures and implications, such relations cannot be held to be involved for the offences related to demand of dowry. As all the essential ingredients to constitute the offences and complicity of petitioners are totally lacking, therefore, to me, no criminal prosecution can legally be permitted to continue against them.
17. As strange as it may appear, but strictly speaking, the tendency and frequency of the wives of involving and roping in all the relations of her in-laws in the matter of demand of dowry have been tremendously increasing day by day, which is adversely affecting social fabric of the society and leaving the Courts in lurch to decide such criminal prosecution. This tendency needs to be curbed and if not discouraged, it is likely to affect and weaken the case of the prosecution even against the real culprits in future in this relevant direction.
18. An identical question came to be decided by this Court in cases Harjinder Kaur and others v. State of Punjab 2004(4) RCR(Criminal) 332; Labh Singh and others v. State of Haryana 2006(2) RCR (Criminal) 296; Rakesh Kumar and others v. State of Punjab and others 2009(2) RCR (Criminal) 565; Mohinder Kaur & Others v. State of Punjab & Another 2010 (2) RCR(Criminal) 597, Paramjit Kaur v. State of Punjab 2011(5) RCR (Criminal) 686 and the judgment dated 17.1.2012 rendered in case Ritu Khurana and another v. Brij Lal Chopra CRM No.M-8227 of 2010; wherein it was held that “the allegations against the relatives of the husband were vague and there is growing tendency to come out with inflated and exaggerated allegations roping in each and every relation of the husband, things have now taken a reverse trend and the women are abusing beneficial provisions of section 498-A IPC.”
19. Sequelly, if the crux of the allegations levelled against the petitioners as discussed hereinabove, is clubbed together and is perused, then, to my mind, the conclusion is irresistible that the complainant has falsely implicated the petitioners vexatiously and maliciously, to put pressure and to blackmail them, to grab the property, in order to wreak vengeance and the criminal proceeding is manifestly attended with mala fide against them. Such reckless/malafide FIR deserves to be quashed, in view of law laid down by Hon’ble Supreme Court in case State of Haryana and others v. Ch.Bhajan Lal and others, AIR 1992 Supreme Court 604, which was again reiterated in case Som Mittal v. Government of Karnataka 2008 (2) R.C.R.(Criminal) 92. Such malafide prosecution if allowed to continue, it will inculcate and perpetuate injustice to the petitioners and is nothing else, but sheer and deep misuse/abuse of process of criminal law in this relevant connection, which is not legally permissible. Therefore, the contrary submissions of learned counsel for complainant “stricto sensu” deserve to be and are hereby repelled under the present set of circumstances, as the indicated Bench mark and the ratio of law laid down in the aforesaid judgments “mutatis mutandis” are applicable to the facts of this case and are the complete answer to the problem in hand. Thus, seen from any angle, to my mind, no offences whatsoever are made out against the petitioners, in the obtaining circumstances of the case.
20. No other legal point, worth consideration, has either been urged or pressed by the counsel for the parties.
21. In the light of aforesaid reasons, the instant petition is accepted. Consequently, the impugned FIR (Annexure P5) and all other subsequent proceedings arising therefrom are hereby quashed and the petitioners are discharged from the indicated criminal case registered against them.
(Mehinder Singh Sullar) Judge 21.2.2012