498A FIR Quash against Younger Brother-in-Law on Omnibus & Vague Allegations

Madhya Pradesh High Court

Pankaj Tyagi
vs
The State Of Madhya Pradesh on 10 July, 2017

M.Cr.C. 2685 of 2017

Shri Ravi Vallabh Tripathi, Counsel for the applicants
Shri R.K. Awasthi, Counsel for the State/Respondent No.1
Shri Girraj Soni, Counsel for the respondent No. 2. Heard Finally.

This petition under Section 482 of Cr.P.C. has been filed for quashing the F.I.R. and further investigation in crime No.28/2017 registered by Police Station Bhind Dehat, Distt. Bhind for offence under Sections 498-A, 34 of I.P.C. and under Section 3/4 of Dowry Prohibition Act.

The undisputed facts are that the applicant No.1 is younger brother-in-law (nsoj). Applicant No.2 is the wife of applicant No.1 (nsojkuh).

The necessary facts for the disposal of the present petition, in short, are that the complainant Smt. Nidhi Tyagi, lodged a F.I.R. on 17-1-2017, alleging that she was married to Neeraj Tyagi, about 5 years back. Immediately after the marriage, her husband, father-in- law, mother-in-law, the applicant No.1 and the applicant No.2 started demanding Rs.1 lac and land and about 2 years back, she has been turned out of her matrimonial house and she is living in her parents house.

The police, on the basis of the allegations made in the complaint, has registered the offence against the applicants and other in-laws of the complainant.

It is submitted by the counsel for the applicants, that the allegations of making demand of Rs.1 lac and land immediately after the marriage of the complainant by the applicants is false because the applicant No.2 got married to the applicant No.1 after the marriage of the complainant. Thus, it is clear that the applicant No.2 was not even the member of the family of the in-laws of the complainant at the time of the marriage of the complainant, therefore, the allegation of demand of Rs.1 lac and land from the complainant, by the applicants, immediately after her marriage is false. It is further submitted that the applicants are residing in Gujarat whereas the complainant and her husband are the resident of Bhind. It is further submitted that the applicants have been falsely made accused only because the applicant No.1 is the younger brother of the husband of the complainant, and the applicant no.2 is the wife of the applicant No.1.

Per contra, it is submitted by the counsel for the respondent No.1/State as well as the respondent No.2, that the applicants had also demanded Rs.1 lac and land from the complainant and she was harassed and treated with cruelty because of non-fulfillment of their demand of Rs.1 lac and land, and the investigation is still pending, therefore, the F.I.R. against the applicants may not be quashed as it is a well established principle of law that the legitimate prosecution may not be stifled at the initial stage only.

Heard the learned counsel for the parties. True it is, that the investigation in the present case is pending and the charge sheet has not been filed. It is also equally well established principle of law that if the allegations made in the F.I.R., prima facie make out a case, then the legitimate prosecution should not be stifled. However, the present case is that of offence under Sections 498-A, 34 of I.P.C. The statements of the complainant and her parents are important to find out that whether they prima facie make out an offence or not. It is equally well known, that in such cases, in order to put additional pressure on the husband, the near and dear relatives of the husband are also roped in.

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The Supreme Court in the case of Bobbili Ramakrishna Raju Yadav and others Vs. State of Andhra Pradesh and another reported in (2016) 1 SCC (Cri) 850 has held as under :-

”11. It is well settled that power under Section 482 CrPC should be sparingly exercised in rare cases.
As has been laid down by this Court in Madhavrao Jiwajirao Scindia v. Sambhajirao Chandrojirao Angre (1988) 1 SCC 692, that when a prosecution at the initial stage was asked to be quashed, the test to be applied by the Court was as to whether the uncontroverted allegations as made in the complaint prima facie establish the offence. It was also for the Court to take into consideration any special feature which appears in a particular case to consider whether it was expedient and in the interest of justice to permit a prosecution to continue. This was so on the basis that the Court cannot be utilised for any oblique purpose and where in the opinion of the Court chances of an ultimate conviction are bleak and therefore, no useful purpose was likely to be served by allowing a criminal prosecution to continue, the Court may while taking into consideration the special facts of a case also quash the proceedings even though it may be at a preliminary stage.” If the allegations made against the applicants are concerned, it is clear that only vague and omnibus allegations have been made against the applicants. The case of the near and distant relatives of the husband stand on a different footing than that of the husband and parents-in-law. In order to prosecute the other relatives, there has to be some specific allegations against them. General, vague and omnibus allegations cannot be treated as sufficient material against the other relatives of the husband who otherwise, does not have anything to do with the family affairs of the complainant.

By relying on judgments passed by the Supreme Court in cases of Geeta Mehrotra Vs. State of U.P. reported in (2012) 10 SCC 741 and Preeti Gupta Vs. State of Jharkhand, reported in (2010) 7 SCC 667, it is submitted by the counsel for the applicants that there should be specific and clear allegations against the relatives of the husband and vague and omnibus allegations would not be sufficient to compel them to face the agony of trial. It is further submitted that there is an increasing tendency in the society to over- implicate the near and dear relatives of the husband so as to pressurize the husband.

The Supreme Court in the case of Kansraj Vs. State of Punjab, (2000) 5 SCC 207, has held as under :

“In the light of the evidence in the case we find substance in the submission of the learned counsel for the defence that Respondents 3 to 5 were roped in the case only on the ground of being close relations of Respondent 2, the husband of the deceased. For the fault of the husband, the in-laws or the other relations cannot, in all cases, be held to be involved in the demand of dowry. In cases where such accusations are made, the overt acts attributed to persons other than the husband are required to be proved beyond reasonable doubt. By mere conjectures and implications such relations cannot be held guilty for the offence relating to dowry deaths. A tendency has, however, developed for roping in all relations of the in-laws of the deceased wives in the matters of dowry deaths which, if not discouraged, is likely to affect the case of the prosecution even against the real culprits. In their overenthusiasm and anxiety to seek conviction for maximum people, the parents of the deceased have been found to be making efforts for involving other relations which ultimately weaken the case of the prosecution even against the real accused as appears to have happened in the instant case.”

The Supreme Court in the case of Monju Roy Vs. State of West Bengal, reported in (2015) 13 SCC 693, has held as under:-

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“8. While we do not find any ground to interfere with the view taken by the courts below that the deceased was subjected to harassment on account of non-fulfillment of dowry demand, we do find merit in the submission that possibility of naming all the family members by way of exaggeration is not ruled out. In Kans Raj v. State of Punjab, (2000) 5 SCC 207, this Court observed : (SCC p.
215, para 5) “5………A tendency has, however, developed for roping in all relations of the in-laws of the deceased wives in the matters of dowry deaths which, if not discouraged, is likely to affect the case of the prosecution even against the real culprits. In their over enthusiasm and anxiety to seek conviction for maximum people, the parents of the deceased have been found to be making efforts for involving other relations which ultimately weaken the case of the prosecution even against the real accused as appears to have happened in the instant case.” The Court has, thus, to be careful in summoning distant relatives without there being specific material. Only the husband, his parents or at best close family members may be expected to demand dowry or to harass the wife but not distant relations, unless there is tangible material to support allegations made against such distant relations. Mere naming of distant relations is not enough to summon them in absence of any specific role and material to support such role.

9. In Raja Lal Singh vs. State of Jharkhand, (2007) 15 SCC 415, it was observed : (SCC p. 419, para

14) “14. No doubt, some of the witnesses e.g. PW 5 Dashrath Singh, who is the father of the deceased Gayatri, and PW 3 Santosh Kr. Singh, brother of the deceased, have stated that the deceased Gayatri told them that dowry was demanded by not only Raja Lal Singh, but also the appellants Pradip Singh and his wife Sanjana Devi, but we are of the opinion that it is possible that the names of Pradip Singh and Sanjana Devi have been introduced only to spread the net wide as often happens in cases like under Sections 498-A and 394 IPC, as has been observed in several decisions of this Court e.g. in Kamesh Panjiyar v. State of Bihar [(2005) 2 SCC 388], etc. Hence, we allow the appeal of Pradip Singh and Sanjana Devi and set aside the impugned judgments of the High Court and the trial court insofar as it relates to them and we direct that they be released forthwith unless required in connection with some other case.”

* * * * * *

11. The Court has to adopt pragmatic view and when a girl dies an unnatural death, allegation of demand of dowry or harassment which follows cannot be weighed in golden scales. At the same time, omnibus allegation against all family members particularly against brothers and sisters and other relatives do not stand on same footing as husband and parents. In such case, apart from general allegation of demand of dowry, the court has to be satisfied that harassment was also caused by all the named members.”

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If the facts of the present case are considered in the light of the judgments passed by the Supreme Court in the case of Kansraj (Supra), Monju Roy (Supra), Geeta Mehrotra (Supra) and Preeti Gupta (Supra), it would be clear that only vague and general allegations have been made against the applicants. It is the specific case of the applicants that they are residing at Gujarat whereas the complainant and her husband are residing in Bhind. This fact has not been rebutted by the respondent No.2. According to the F.I.R. and the case diary statement of the complainant, the applicants started demanding Rs.1 lac and land immediately after the marriage, however, the applicant No. 2 was not even married to the applicant No.1 at the time of the marriage of the complainant. When the applicant No.2 was not even the member of the family of the in-laws of the complainant, then how she can demand Rs.1 lac and land from the complainant, and how she can harass the complainant.

If the allegations are considered, then it is clear that the applicant No.1 is the younger brother-in-law of the complainant, whereas the applicant No. 2 is the wife of the applicant No.1. They are residing in Gujarat and have no business to interfere with the family life of the complainant. There are no specific allegations against the applicants and only vague and omnibus allegations have been made which are not sufficient to compel the applicants to face prosecution. Thus, in the considered opinion of this Court, unless and until, a specific allegation is made against a near and dear distant relative of the husband, he/she cannot be prosecuted for offence under Section 498-A of I.P.C. In the present case also, there is no specific allegation against the applicants, so as to compel them to face the Trial.

Accordingly, the F.I.R. in crime No.28/2017 registered by Police Station Bhind Dehat, Distt. Bhind for offence under Sections 498-A, 34 of I.P.C. and under Section 3/4 of Dowry Prohibition Act, qua the applicants is hereby quashed.

This application succeeds and is hereby allowed.

(G.S. Ahluwalia) Judge MKB*

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