Section 498A/34 IPC quashed against some Revisionists

IN THE COURT OF MS. SMITA GARG,
ADDITIONAL SESSIONS JUDGE ­ FAST TRACK COURT,
WEST DISTRICT, TIS HAZARI COURTS, DELHI.

Crl. Revision No. 56033/2016
In re:

1) Sh. Sunil Lalwani,
S/o Sh. Mohan Lalwani,

2) Smt. Rekha Lalwani,
W/o Sh. Mohan Lalwani

3) Sh. Puneet Lalwani,
S/o Sh. Mohan Lalwani,

All R/o B­254­A, B­Block,
Mohan Garden Extension,
Uttam Nagar, New Delhi

4) Smt. Pooja Hemrajani @ Sangeeta,
W/o Sh. Vijay Hemrajani,
R/o H. No. 26/2, Double Storey,
Ramesh Nagar, New Delhi

5) Smt. Preeti,
W/o Sh. Rakesh Kumar,
R/o H. No. K­308, Vivek Vihar,
Sector­82, Noida,
Distt. Gautam Budh Nagar (U.P) ………Revisionists

Versus

1) The State
Govt. of NCT of Delhi
New Secretariat,New Delhi­110001

2) Smt. Neelam Lalwani,
W/o Sh. Sunil Lalwani,
D/o Sh. Anand Swaroop Panjawani,
R/o H. No. C­123, N.D. M.C Society,
Vikas Puri, New Delhi ….Respondents

Date of filing of revision petition : 25.01.2016
Date of judgment : 05.09.2016

JUDGMENT:
1. This revision petition is directed against the order dated 30.10.2015 passed by the Ld. MM (Mahila Court) in State case arising out of FIR No. 561/14 under Section 498A/406/34 IPC registered at P.S. Vikas Puri, whereby the trial court ordered for framing of charge for the offences punishable under Section 498A/406/34 IPC against the revisionists.

2. Brief facts relevant for the disposal of the revision petition are that the above mentioned FIR was registered against the revisionists on the complaint of the respondent no.2/complainant Neelam Panjwani. The revisionists no. 1 to 5 herein are the husband, mother in law, brother in law (dever) and sisters in law (nanad) respectively of the complainant. After the completion of investigation, chargesheet was filed against the husband/revisionist no.1 only and the remaining revisionists were kept in column no. 12 as suspects. Vide order dated 17.10.2014, the trial court summoned all of them.

3. While passing the impugned order, the trial court found prima facie case for framing charges for the offences under Section 498A/406/34 IPC against the revisionists. Accordingly, charges as per the impugned order were framed against them on 02.02.2016.

4. The impugned order has been assailed by the revisionists on the ground that the trial court failed to appreciate that the revisionists no. 2 to 5 had been kept in column no. 12 as there was no sufficient evidence against them and it had revealed from the local inquiry that they were residing separately from the complainant and the revisionist no.1. The counsel for the revisionists has submitted that the revisionists no. 4 & 5 are the married sisters in law and have been falsely roped in by the complainant out of the vengeance. He has argued that the allegations leveled against the revisionists are quite general and vague in nature and even if the same are presumed to be correct, ingredients of offences punishable under Section 498A/406 IPC are not made out against the revisionists. In support of his arguments, the counsel for the revisionists has placed reliance upon the following judgments:­

(i) Chander Kanta Lamba & Ors v. State & Ors. 169 (2010) DLT 143
(ii) Anu Gill v. The Sate & Anr., 92 (2001) DLT 179
(iii) Paramjit Kaur v. State of Punjab & Anr., 2013 (4) RCR Criminal 387
(iv) Savitri Devi v. Ramesh Chand & Ors., 104 (2003) DLT 824
(v) Mukesh Rani v. State of Haryana, I (2002) DMC 572
(vi) Ramandeep Kaur v. State of Punjab, 2001 (4) RCR Cri 394
(vi) Rajpal Singh v. State of Haryana, 2000 (3) RCR Cri 135 Based upon the above submissions, it was urged that the impugned order be set aside and all the revisionists be discharged in the case.

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5. On the other hand, Ld. APP for State, assisted by the counsel for the complainant, submitted that there are specific allegations of demand of dowry and harassment in connection with the same against all the revisionists and based upon the proper appreciation of facts and circumstances of the case, the trial court rightly ordered for framing of charges against the revisionists. He submitted that while the revisionist no.1 and the complainant used to reside at the ground floor, the revisionists no. 2, 3 & 5 resided at the first floor of the property as the revisionist no.5 was unmarried at the time of the marriage of the complainant. He also submitted that even though the revisionist no. 4 had been married before the marriage of the complainant but her matrimonial home was not far off and she used to actively participate in the harassment of the complainant. It was further submitted that the genuineness of the allegations of the complaint are evident for the fact that the complainant has not levelled any allegation against her father in law, who also resided at the first floor with the revisionists no. 2 & 3. It was argued that since there is no illegality or infirmity in the impugned order, the revision petition is liable to be dismissed.

6. Before going into the factual aspects of the case, it would be important to refer to the guidelines laid down by the Superior Courts to be kept in mind at the stage of framing of charge. In Union of India v. Prafulla Kumar Samal AIR 1979 SC 366, the Hon’ble Apex Court laid down the following principles:

(i) That the Judge while considering the question of framing the charges under Section 227 of the Code has the undoubted power to sift and weigh the evidence for the limited purpose of finding out whether or not a prima facie case against the accused has been made out;

(ii) Where the materials placed before the Court disclose grave suspicion against the accused which has not been properly explained the Court will be fully justified in framing a charge and proceeding with the trial;

(iii) The test to determine a prima facie case would naturally depend upon the facts of each case and it is difficult to lay down a rule of universal application. By and large however if two views are equally possible and the Judge is satisfied that the evidence produced before him while giving rise to some suspicion but not grave suspicion against the accused, he will be fully within his right to discharge the accused; and

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(iv) That in exercising his jurisdiction under Section 227 of the Code the Judge which under the present Code is a senior and experienced Court can not act merely as a Post­Office or a mouth­piece of the prosecution, but has to consider the broad probabilities of the case, the total effect of the evidence and the documents produced before the Court, any basic infirmities appearing in the case and so on. This however does not mean that the Judge should make a roving enquiry into the pros and cons of the matter and weigh the evidence as if he was conducting a trial.

7. Upon testing the First Information Report, statements recorded under Section 161 CrPC and other material on record on the touchstone of the above principles, there can be no doubt that there exist the grounds to presume that the revisionists have committed an offence under Section 498A Indian Penal Code. At this stage, the case of the prosecution can not be thrown out by disbelieving the averments or the allegations in the complaint. From a bare reading of the FIR, it is seen that there are clear and specific accusations against all the revisionists in as much as the complainant has alleged that in the ring ceremony on 05.02.2010 and in marriage on 07.02.2010, her parents gave the articles as per the demand of her in laws; that after the marriage, her in laws taunted her that the said articles were not as per their expectation; that the husband and mother in law took away all her jewellery on the pretext of keeping them in locker; that her husband forced her to bring Rs. 50,000/­ from her parents for going on honeymoon; that on 25.02.2010 in the midnight at about 02:00 PM, her husband, sisters in law and brother in law woke her up and gave beatings to her in relation to the demands of dowry; that on 10.03.2010, when she sustained injury in her leg, no medical treatment was provided to her; that the mother in law and sisters in law used to instigated her husband against her; that when the complainant expressed her desire to visit her mother after her operation, the mother in law, sisters in law and husband gave beatings to her and allowed her to go only on the condition that she would bring Rs. 25,000/­ from her parents; that on 01.11.2011, when the parents of the complainant visited her matrimonial home to invite the revisionists for the ring ceremony of their son, the in laws of the complainant told them that they would not attend the marriage until and unless a sum of Rs. 1,00,000/­ for purchasing new clothes were given to them; that the complainant was made to do the entire household work as well as to look after the business of her husband; that whenever she asked for pocket money, her husband used to tell her to get the same from her parents; that the in laws of the complainant never allowed her to wear her jewellery and clothes and they used to give beatings to her whenever she demanded the same; that on 08.03.2014, the mother in law, sisters in law and husband of the complainant turned her out of the matrimonial home by saying that she would be allowed to come back only when she would bring Rs.

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50,000/­. In view of the above specific allegations, the trial court rightly formed the opinion that prima facie case was made out for framing charge for the commission of offence under Section 498A/34 IPC against all the revisionists.

8. As far as the contention of the counsel for the revisionists that the revisionists no. 2 to 5, who had been kept in column no. 12, ought to have been discharged is concerned, it has to borne in mind in the cases of such nature, the acts of cruelty are invariably committed within the four corners of the house and thus, eye witnesses to such incidents are not easily available.

9. I have gone through the authorities relied upon by the counsel for the revisionists. There can be no dispute with regard to the proposition of law discussed in the said judgments but it needs little emphasis that the facts of two cases can not be similar. In the judgments relied upon by the counsel for the revisionists, the married sisters in law or other relatives of the husband had been discharged either because the allegation against them were found to be vague and unspecific or the allegations did not fall within the mischief of Section 498A IPC. However, those cases are completely distinguishable from the facts and circumstances of the present case. As already mentioned above, there are specific allegations regarding demand of dowry as well as harassment against all the revisionists and therefore, the judgments relied upon by the revisionists render no help to them.

10. As far as the charge for the offence under Section 406 IPC is concerned, it is pertinent to observe that one of the vital ingredient to constitute the said offence is the entrustment of istreedhan. A perusal of the allegations appearing in the FIR shows that the complainant has levelled allegations of entrustment against her husband and the mother in law only. In the absence of any specific allegation of entrustment of istreedhan against the revisionist no. 3 to 5, the trial court clearly fell in error in framing charge for the offence under Section 406/34 IPC against them.

11. In the light of above discussion, the revision petition is partly allowed. While the order for framing of charge under Section 498A/34 IPC against all the revisionists and under Section 406/34 IPC against the revisionists no.1 & 2 only is sustained, the part of the order directing the framing of charge under Section 406/34 IPC against the revisionist no. 3 to 5 is set aside. With the above modification in the impugned order, the revision petition stands disposed of.

File of revision petition be consigned to record room.

Announced in the open court (Smita Garg)
on 05.09.2016 Addl. Sessions Judge FTC, (West)
Tis Hazari Courts, Delhi.

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