Sister-in-law 498A quash

IN THE HIGH COURT OF PUNJAB AND HARYANA AT CHANDIGARH.

Crl. Misc. No.M-31712 of 2004
Date of Decision: 23.05.2011

Santosh Jakhar….Petitioner
Versus
State of Haryana & another…Respondents

CORAM : Hon’ble Ms. Justice Nirmaljit Kaur

Present:- Mr. Salil Bali, Advocate for the petitioner.
Mr. Sidharth Sarup, D.A.G., Haryana for the respondent-State.
Mr. Deepak Kumar, Advocate for Mr. R.N. Lohan, Advocate for the complainant.

1. Whether Reporters of Local Newspapers may be allowed to see the judgment ?
2. To be referred to the Reporters or not ?
3. Whether the judgment should be reported in the Digest ?

NIRMALJIT KAUR, J.

This is a petition under Section 482 of the Cr.P.C for quashing of FIR No.76 dated 13.02.2002 under Sections 498-A/406 IPC registered at Police Station Civil Lines, Rohtak and all the subsequent proceedings arising thereto.

The petitioner is the married sister-in-law. She was married to Birjinder Singh in the year 1990. She has two young children aged about 11 years. The husband of the petitioner, namely, Birjinder Singh, is working as an Executive in a private firm at Chanderpur (Maharashtra). The petitioner, herself, is working as TGT (SS) in International Bharti School, Gohana Road, Rohtak. Since the year 1990 i.e after her marriage, she has been residing at Rohtak, which is at a considerable distance from Hisar. Moreover, since her husband is working in Maharashtra, therefore, she has to look after her two young children and her ailing mother-in-law, namely, Krishna, who is aged about 62 years. The allegations against the petitioner are vague. There is no allegation of entrustment or any demand of dowry. The petitioner has been enroped only because she is the sister of the husband of the complainant.

The Single Bench of this Court in a case of Divya alias Babli
and others v. State of Haryana and another reported as 2006 (4) RCR
(Criminal) 322, while relying on the judgement of the Apex Court rendered
in the case of Kans Raj v. State of Punjab and others reported as 2000(2)
RCR (Crl.) 695 held as under:-

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“22. Another judgement rendered in Shinder Pal @ Kakke’s case (supra) relied by Mr. Saini, this Court while relying upon a judgement of Apex Court rendered in Kans Raj v. State of Punjab and others, AIR 2000 Supreme Court 2324 wherein their Lordships have observed that a tendency has developed for roping in all the relations in dowry cases which ultimately weakens the case of the prosecution even against the real accused.

23. My view is also fortified by the latest judgment of Hon’ble Supreme Court rendered in Ramesh Kumar and others vs. State of Tamil Nadu, 2005 (2) R.C.R. (Criminal) 68 in which their Lordships while quashing the proceeding against sister-in-law who was staying at a different place observed that there were bald allegations to rope in as many relations of the husband.

24. Another latest judgment of Apex Court rendered in Sushil Kumar Sharma vs. Union of India and others, 2005 (3) R.C.R.(Criminal) 745 where issue of striking down Section 498-A IPC had sprouted, their Lordships observed that in such type of cases the “action” and not the “section” may be vulnerable and the Court by upholding the provisions of law may still set aside the action, order or decision and grant appropriate relief to the persons aggrieved. Their Lordships while dealing with the dowry menace, however, observed in para 17 as under:- ” The object of the provision is prevention of the dowry menace. But as he has been rightly contended by the petitioner many instances have come to light where the complaints are not bona fide and have been filed with oblique motive. In such cases acquittal of the accused does not in all cases wipe out the ignomny (ignominy?) suffered during and prior to trial. Sometimes adverse media coverage adds to the misery. The question, therefore, is what remedial measures can be taken to prevent abuse of the well-intentioned provision. Merely because the provision is constitutional and intra vires, does not give a licence to unscrupulous persons to wreck personal vendetta or unleash harassment. It may, therefore, become necessary for the legislature to find out ways how the makers of frivolous complaints or allegations can be appropriately dealt with. Till then the Courts have to take care of the situation within the existing framework. As noted above the object is to strike at the roots of dowry menace. But by misuse of the provision a new legal terrorism can be unleashed. The provision is intended to be used a shield and not an assassin’s weapon. If cry of “wolf” is made too often as a prank, assistance and protection may not be available when the actual “wolf” appears. There is no question of investigating agency and Courts casually dealing with the allegations. They cannot follow any straitjacket formula in the matters relating to dowry tortures, deaths and cruelty. It cannot be lost sight of that ultimate objective of every legal system is to arrive at truth, punish the guilty and protect the innocent. There is no scope for any pre- conceived notion or view. It is strenuously argued by the petitioner that the investigating agencies and the Courts start with the presumptions that the accused persons are guilty and that the complainant is speaking the truth. This is too wide available and generalised statement. Certain statutory presumptions are drawn which again are rebuttable. It is to be noted that the role of the investigating agencies and the Courts is that of watch dog and not of a bloodhound. It should be their effort to see that an innocent person is not made to suffer on account of unfounded, baseless and malicious allegations. It is equally indisputable that in many cases no direct evidence is available and the Courts have to act on circumstantial evidence. While dealing with such cases, the law laid down relating to circumstantial evidence has to be kept in view.” Coming back to the present case, the allegations against the petitioner in the FIR do not invite the offence under Sections 498-A/406 IPC. Moreover, she was married for the last 11 years prior to the marriage of the complainant. Admittedly, she is residing separately and is also working as a teacher. As such, there is no occasion or time for her to interfere in the matrimonial life of the respondent- complainant.

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Lately, a tendency has developed for roping in all the relations in dowry cases in order to browbeat and pressurize the immediate family of the husband. Accordingly, sometimes inflated and exaggerated allegations are made.

In the light of the judgment passed by this Court in the case of Divya alias Babli and others (supra), the present petition qua petitioner is allowed and FIR No.76 dated 13.02.2002 under Sections 498-A/406 IPC registered at Police Station Civil Lines, Rohtak and all the subsequent proceedings arising thereto are hereby quashed.

(NIRMALJIT KAUR)

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