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498A Quash – No Jurisdiction, No evidence of Cruelty

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

CRIMINAL APPEAL No. 546 OF 2009

AMARENDU JYOTI ORS. …. APPELLANTS

VERSUS

STATE OF CHHATISGARH ORS. …. RESPONDENTS

JUDGMENT

S. A. BOBDE, J.

1. The appellant no. 1 – Amarendu Jyoti, who is husband ofrespondent no. 2 – Smt. Kiran Sinha, has challenged the Orderdated 19th December, 2006 passed by the High Court of Chhattisgarh in Miscellaneous Criminal Case [MCRL] No. 1104 of 2006 dismissing the appellants’ application under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 [hereinafter referred to asthe Code’] and holding that the First Information Report [F.I.R.]Signature Not Verified for offence under Section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860

Reason: [hereinafter referred to as `IPC’], lodged by the respondent no. 3- Madhusudan Sinha, was liable to be tried by the Court at Ambikapur, which has jurisdiction to try the offence.

2.The main contention of the appellants is that the incident of cruelty allegedby respondent no. 2 has taken place only at Delhi, where the couple resided after which the respondent no. 2 went to stay with her parents at Ambikapur in the State of Chhattisgarh, therefore, the Court at Ambikapur has no jurisdiction to try thealleged offence against the appellants in the F.I.R. under Section498-A, IPC, lodged by respondent no. 3.

2. The marriage of the appellant no. 1 to the respondent no.2 took place on 21.04.2003 at Patna. The couple resided atDelhi from 27.04.2003 to 22.05.2003 when the respondent no.2/wife left Delhi for her parents’ place at Ambikapur. After about2 = years, her father – Madhusudan Sinha/respondent no. 3filed an F.I.R. at Ambikapur alleging that respondent no. 2/KiranSinha has been subjected to cruelty by her husband/appellantno. 1, elder brother-in-law/appellant no. 2 and eldersister-in-law/appellant no. 3, who are therefore to be punishedunder Section 498-A of the IPC.

3. The appellants approached the High Court of Chhattisgarhat Bilaspur under Section 482 of the Code questioning theterritorial jurisdiction of the Court at Ambikapur to try the offence alleged against the appellants. The respondent no. 3has alleged cruelty in the F.I.R. dated 31.12.2005. However,according to the appellants each of the alleged incidents, whichconstitute cruelty, has taken place when the couple residedtogether in Delhi between 27.04.2003 to 22.05.2003, before therespondent no. 2 shifted to Ambikapur to stay with her father -respondent no. 3. Thus, according to the appellants theterritorial jurisdiction to try the offence cannot be with the Court at Ambikapur, where no incident is alleged to have taken place.

4.This argument did not find favour with the High Court, whichdismissed the application under Section 482 of the Code. TheHigh Court held, having regard to the provisions of Sections 178and 179 of the Code that after the respondent no. 2 had left theappellants society at Delhi and gone to Ambikapur to reside withher father, the acts of cruelty continued and therefore theoffence of cruelty was a continuing offence. The High Courtrelied on the fact that the respondent no. 2 was made to abandon her husband’s company because of cruel treatment and compelled to stay at Ambikapur; further, that the respondent no.2 was subjected to cruelty by telephone calls over which she was threatened and demand of dowry was made. The letters written by respondent nos. 2 and 3 showing the sufferings of the wife atAmbikapur were relied on and the High Court noted that despite the respondent’s plight the appellant made no effort to take her back to the matrimonial home. Accordingly, the High Court held that the offence of cruelty was a continuing offence and the court at Ambikapur had jurisdiction to try the offence

5. Aggrieved by the rejection of the application under Section482 of the Code, the appellants have approached this Court byway of special leave to appeal. The main contention on behalf of the appellants was that the F.I.R. did not disclose a continuing offence. The offence, if any, was alleged to have been committed only at Delhi and there was no question of anyoffence having been committed after the respondent no. 2 wentto stay at Ambikapur. The learned counsel for the appellants relied on the decision of this Court in Manish Ratan v. State ofM.P., (2007) 1 SCC 262.

5. In Manish Ratan’s case (supra), in the complaint, theincident was said to have taken place in Jabalpur. The wife hadleft her matrimonial house and started residing at Datia. TheCriminal Revision filed by the accused, questioning thejurisdiction of the Court at Datia, was dismissed opining that theoffence was a continuing one, and therefore, the Datia Court hadjurisdiction to take cognizance. The High Court held that theCourt at Datia also has jurisdiction to try the case since theharassment to the wife continued at the place where she wasresiding with her father “since she was forced to live at herfather’s place on account of the torture of the in-laws and assuch it can safely be said that there was also a mental cruelty.”This conclusion of the High Court was dubbed as curious by thisCourt since the High Court found earlier that “there is nothing inthe complaint to show that any maltreatment was given to theappellant at Datia. The allegations, which I may repeat here,are that the maltreatment was given within a specific period atJabalpur.”

6.After looking at the decided case on the point i.e.Sujata Mukherjee v. Prashant Kumar Mukherjee, (1997) 5SCC 30; State of Bihar v. Deokaran Nenshi, (1972) 2 SCC890; Y Abraham Ajith v. Inspector of Police, (2004) 8 SCC100; and Ramesh v. State of T.N., (2005) 3 SCC 507, thisCourt held that the order of the High Court was unsustainable,and therefore, set it aside. It is not only that in the interest ofjustice, while setting aside the order of the High Court, thisCourt directed the transfer of the criminal case pending in theCourt of Chief Judicial Magistrate, Datia, where the wife was staying with her father to the Court of Judicial Magistrate,Jabalpur (vide para 18).

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6. Relying on the Judgment of this Court in Manish Ratan’scase (supra), the learned counsel for the appellants contendedthat the offence in the present case cannot be considered to be acontinuing offence, if any, and must be taken to have beencomplete at Delhi and no cause of action can be said to have at Ambikapur. As must necessarily be, the application oflaw and the consequences must vary from case to case.

7. The core question thus is whether the allegations made in

the F.I.R. constitute a continuing offence. We find from the F.I.R.

that all the incidents alleged by the complainant in respect of the

alleged cruelty are said to have occurred at Delhi. The cruel and

humiliating words spoken to the 2nd respondent/wife by her

husband, elder brother-in-law and elder sister-in-law for bringing

less dowry are said to have been uttered at Delhi. Allegedly,

arbitrary demands of lakhs of rupees in dowry have been made

in Delhi. The incident of beating and dragging the respondent

no. 2 and abusing her in filthy language also is said to have

taken place at Delhi. Suffice it to say that all overt acts, which

are said to have constituted cruelty have allegedly taken place at

Delhi. The allegations as to what has happened at Ambikapur

are as follows:

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“No purposeful information has been received from
the in-laws of Kiran even on contacting on
telephone till today. They have been threatened
and abused and two years have been elapsed and
the in-laws have not shown any interest to call her
to her matrimonial home and since then Kiran is
making her both ends meet in her parental home.
To get rid of the ill-treatment and harassment of
the in-laws of Kiran, the complainant is praying for
registration of an FIR and request for immediate
legal action so that Kiran may get appropriate
justice.”

8. We find that the offence of cruelty cannot be said to be a

continuing one as contemplated by Sections 178 and 179 of the

Code. We do not agree with the High Court that in this case the

mental cruelty inflicted upon the respondent no. 2 “continued

unabated” on account of no effort having been made by the

appellants to take her back to her matrimonial home, and the

threats given by the appellants over the telephone. It might be

noted incidentally that the High Court does not make reference

to any particular piece of evidence regarding the threats said to

have been given by the appellants over the telephone. Thus,

going by the complaint, we are of the view that it cannot be held

that the Court at Ambikapur has jurisdiction to try the offence

since the appropriate Court at Delhi would have jurisdiction to

try the said offence. Accordingly, the appeal is allowed.

9. However, we consider it appropriate, in the interest of

justice to permit the Court at Ambikapur to proceed with the trial

of Criminal Case arising out of F.I.R. No. 798 of 2005 dated

31.12.2005, in exercise of powers conferred on this Court by

Article 142 of the Constitution of India.

[SUDHANSU JYOTI MUKHOPADHAYA]
[ S.A. BOBDE ]

New Delhi,
AUGUST 4, 2014

ITEM NO.1B COURT NO.5 SECTION IIA
(For Judgment)

S U P R E M E C O U R T O F I N D I A

RECORD OF PROCEEDINGS

Criminal Appeal No(s). 546 of 2009

AMARENDU JYOTI ORS. Appellant(s)

VERSUS

STATE OF CHATTISGARH ORS. Respondent(s)

Date : 04/08/2014 This appeal was called on for hearing today.

For Appellant(s)

Mr. Bhaskar Y. Kulkarni ,Adv.

For Respondent(s)

Mr. Niraj Sharma ,Adv.

UPON hearing the counsel the Court made the following

O R D E R

Hon’ble Mr. Justice. S.A. Bobde pronounced the reportable judgment of the Bench comprising Hon’ble Mr. Justice Sudhansu Jyoti Mukhopadhaya and His Lordship.

The appeal is allowed in terms of the signed reportable judgment.

(Neeta) (Usha Sharma)
Sr. P.A. COURT MASTER
(Signed reportable judgment is placed on the file)

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