Sister-in-law and her husband 498A quashed

IN THE HIGH COURT OF PUNJAB AND HARYANA AT CHANDIGARH

Crl. Misc. No. M-964 of 2010

DATE OF DECISION: 19.5.2011

Mrs. Balwinder Kaur and another ……….Petitioners
Versus
U.T., Chandigarh and another ……….Respondents

BEFORE:- HON’BLE MRS. JUSTICE DAYA CHAUDHARY
Present:- Mr. SP Soi, Advocate for the petitioners. Mr. Preet Pal, Advocate for U.T., Chandigarh.

DAYA CHAUDHARY, J.

The present petition under Section 482 Cr.P.C. has been filed on behalf of Balwinder Kaur and Rajinder Singh for quashing of FIR No. 125 dated 21.4.2006 registered under Sections 406 and 498-A IPC at Police Station, Sector 34, Chandigarh and all subsequent proceedings arising therefrom.

On 18.1.2010, while issuing notice of motion, following contention of learned counsel for the petitioners was recorded:- “learned counsel for the petitioners contends that the petitioners are sister-in-law and her husband who are working, they have nothing to do with the demand of dowry and are also residing separately. Learned counsel also relies upon the judgments of the Hon’ble Supreme Court and of this Court in Ramesh and others v. State of Tamil Nadu 2005 (2) RCR Crl. Misc. No. M-964 of 2010 (2) (Crl.) 68 and Smt. Rani v. State of Haryana 2006 (1) RCR (Crl.) 985 respectively.

Notice of motion for 8.3.2010.

Further proceedings before the trial Court are stayed.” Learned counsel for the petitioners contends that the marriage of the complainant and brother of petitioner No.1 was solemnized on 22.2.2004 at Chandigarh i.e. much after the marriage of the petitioners and after the marriage of complainant and most of the time she used to remain with her parents only and left her matrimonial home in April, 2004. Learned counsel further submits that inspite of all efforts, the complainant did not join her matrimonial home and ultimately, the husband of the complainant filed a petition under Section 9 of the Hindu Marriage Act for restitution of conjugal rights and the present FIR is the counter blast to the same. Learned counsel also contends that earlier a compromise was effected between the parties and it was decided that none of the parents will interfere in their matrimonial life and accordingly, the complaint was withdrawn by the petitioner. After that, mother-in-law of the complainant even disowned her son and a notice in this regard was also published in Daily newspaper dated 29.8.2004 but inspite of that the attitude of the complainant was not changed and she again left her matrimonial home with all belongings on 11.7.2005. It is also the contention of learned counsel that both the petitioners were residing separately at Patiala and petitioner No.1 was working as Clerk in Irrigation Department and petitioner No.2 was working as Junior Engineer in Punjab State Electricity Board and question of interference in the matrimonial life of the complainant and her husband does not arise. All the allegations are general in nature and all the family members have been falsely implicated in this case. The present FIR is totally misuse of process of law and the same is liable to be quashed. Learned counsel also relies upon the judgments of the Hon’ble Crl. Misc. No. M-964 of 2010 (3) Supreme Court and of this Court in Ramesh and others v. State of Tamil Nadu 2005 (2) RCR (Crl.) 68 and Smt. Rani v. State of Haryana 2006 (1) RCR (Crl.) 985 respectively.

Learned counsel appearing for U.T., Chandigarh opposes the prayer on the ground that specific allegations are there against the petitioners and both the petitioners were active in demand of dowry and harassment.

Heard the arguments advanced by learned counsel for the parties and have also gone through the documents available on record. Admittedly, the marriage between complainant and her husband-Dhian Singh Bhatia was solemnized on 22.2.2004 at Chandigarh according to Sikh rites and ceremonies. Petitioner No.1 is sister of husband of the complainant and petitioner No.2 is husband of petitioner No.1. it is also an admitted fact that both the petitioners were residing separately at Patiala and were working, whereas, the complainant was residing at Chandigarh. The husband of the complainant filed a petition under Section 9 of the Hindu Marriage Act for restitution of conjugal rights and the complaint under Sections 406,498-A IPC was lodged subsequently, in which, compromise was effected between the parties and parents of both the sides were asked not to interfere in the matrimonial life of the parties and accordingly that complaint was withdrawn. Thereafter, mother-in-law of the complainant disowned her son and a notice was also issued in the newspaper and after that complainant and her husband were residing separately. As per allegations in the FIR, husband, mother-in-law, both sister-in-laws and brother-in-law used to harass the complainant but no specific allegation with regard to demand of dowry has been made against the petitioners. Only it has been mentioned that both the petitioners used to interfere in the matrimonial life of the complainant. Even from the bare perusal of the contents of the FIR, no Crl. Misc. No. M-964 of 2010 (4) specific allegations are there and nowhere in the FIR, it has been mentioned that the petitioners ever raised any demand of dowry. The names of the petitioners have been mentioned in the FIR but nothing specific has been attributed to them.

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Time and again, it has been held by Hon’ble the Apex Court as well as various High Courts that there is always a tendency to implicate all the family members of in-laws and even the distant relation whenever there is a matrimonial discord either out of vengeance or with a view to create pressure to achieve a suitable settlement. In the present case also, the petitioners have falsely been implicated in the case by the complainant who are close relatives of husband of the complainant and false allegations have been levelled against them. This view has been supported in Saritha v. R.Ramachandra 2003(1) R.C.R.(Crl.) 481 as under: “It is for the Law Commission and the Parliament either to continue with provisions (Section 498-A IPC) in the same form or to make the offence a non-cognizable one and a bailable one so that the ill-educated women of this country and their parents do not misuse the provisions to harass innocent people for the sin of conducting marriage with egoistic women. We have no hesitation to hold that if this situation is continued in this manner, the institution of marriage and the principle of one man for woman will vanish into the air.”

This view has further been supported in the judgment reported as Kamaljit Singh v. State of Punjab 2004(1) RCR (Cri.) 321 wherein the allegations were against the married sisters of the husband and other relatives who were residing separately and they were unnecessarily dragged into litigation whereas the dispute was between the complainant and her husband and FIR was quashed. Similarly, FIR was also quashed with regard to married sister-in-law in judgment reported as Ms.Anu Gill v. Crl. Misc. No. M-964 of 2010 (5) State 2002(1) R.C.R.(Crl.) 82 on the ground that sister-in-law was married and was residing separately and it was not believed that dowry articles were entrusted to her. It was also held that there is always a tendency on the part of the complainant to involve all the relations of the in-laws family. This view has also been supported by the judgment of Hon’ble the Supreme Court in Kans Raj v. State of Punjab and others AIR 2000 SC 2324.

Now the question for consideration in the case is whether this Court can exercise its power under Section 482 Cr.P.C. in the facts and circumstances of the case or not ? The scope and ambit of Courts’ powers under Section 482 Cr.P.C. have been discussed in a number of cases. No- doubt, High Court has inherent power to act ex debito justitiae to do real and substantial justice, for the administration of which alone it exists, or to prevent abuse of the process of the Court. Inherent power under Section 482 Cr.P.C. can be exercised to give effect to an order under the Code or to prevent abuse of the process of the Court or to otherwise secure the ends of justice. This power under Section 482 Cr.P.C. is wide but the same is to be exercised with great care and caution. The power is to be exercised for advancement of justice or to prevent abuse of the process of the Court. Although no hard and fast rule can be laid down in regard to cases where the High Court should exercise its extraordinary jurisdiction of quashing the proceedings at any stage but the Hon’ble Supreme Court has summarised some categories of cases where inherent power can and should be exercised to quash the proceedings. In R.P.Kapur v. State of Punjab AIR 1960 SC 866, Hon’ble the Supreme Court has summarised some categories of cases as under:

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(i)Where it manifestly appears that there is a legal bar against the institution or continuance of the proceedings; (ii)where the allegations in the first information report or Crl. Misc. No. M-964 of 2010 (6) complaint taken at their face value and accepted in their entirety do not constitute the offence alleged;and (iii)where the allegations constitute an offence, but there is no legal evidence adduced or the evidence adduced clearly or manifestly fails to prove the charge.

Similarly in State of Karnataka v. L. Muniswamy and others [1977]2 SCC 699 it has been held that power under Section 482 Cr.P.C. can be exercised when the Court comes to the conclusion that allowing the proceedings to continue would be an abuse of the process of the Court or that ends of justice require that proceedings should be quashed. In Madhu Limaye v. The State of Maharashtra [1977] 4 SCC 551 a three-Judge Bench of Hon’ble the Apex Court held as under:

“……….In case the impugned order clearly brings out a situation which is an abuse of the process of the Court, or for the purpose of securing the ends of justice interference by the High Court is absolutely necessary, then nothing contained in Section 397(2) can limit or affect the exercise of the inherent power by the High Court. Such cases would necessarily be few and far between. One such case would be the desirability of the quashing of a criminal proceeding initiated illegally, vexatiously or as being without jurisdiction. The present case would undoubtedly fall for exercise of the power of the High Court in accordance with Section 482 of the 1973 Code, even assuming, that the invoking of the revisional power of the High Court is impermissible.”

In Madhavrao Jiwajirao Scindia and others v. Sambhajirao Chandrojirao Angre and others 1988(1) R.C.R. (Criminal) 565, the Hon’ble Apex Court observed in para No.7 as under: ” 7.The legal position is well settled that when a prosecution at Crl. Misc. No. M-964 of 2010 (7) the initial stage is asked to be quashed, the test to be applied by the Court is as to whether the uncontroverted allegations as made prima facie establish the offence. It is also for the Court to take into consideration any special features which appear in a particular case to consider whether it is expedient and in the interest of justice to permit a prosecution to continue. This is so on the basis that the Court cannot be utilized [10] for any oblique purpose and where in the opinion of the Court, chances of an ultimate conviction is bleak and, therefore, no useful purpose is 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 proceeding even though it may be at a preliminary stage.” In State of Haryana and others v. Bhajan Lal and others 1991(1)R.C.R.(Criminal) 383, Hon’ble the Apex Court in the backdrop of interpretation of various relevant provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure (for short, Cr.P.C.) under Chapter XIV and of the principles of law enunciated by the Supreme Court in a series of decisions relating to the exercise of the extraordinary power under Article 226 of the Constitution of India or the inherent powers under Section 482 Cr.P.C., gave the following categories of cases by way of illustration wherein such power could be exercised either to prevent abuse of the process of the Court or otherwise to secure the ends of justice. The Hon’ble Supreme Court made it clear that it may not be possible to lay down any precise, clearly defined and sufficiently channelised and inflexible guidelines or rigid formulae and to give an exhaustive list to myriad kinds of cases wherein such power should be exercised:

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“(1) Where the allegations made in the first information report or the complaint, even if they are taken at their face value and Crl. Misc. No. M-964 of 2010 (8) accepted in their entirety do not prima facie constitute any offence or make out a case against the accused.

(2)Where the allegations made in the first information report and other materials, if any, accompanying the FIR do not disclose a cognizable offence, justifying an investigation by police officers under Section 156(1) of the Code except under an order of a Magistrate within the purview of Section 155(2) of the Code.

(3)Where the uncontroverted allegations made in the FIR or complaint and the evidence collected in support of the same do not disclose the commission of any offence and make out a case against the accused.

(4)Where, the allegations in the FIR do not constitute a cognizable offence but constitute only a noncognizable offence, no investigation is permitted by a police officer without an order of a Magistrate as contemplated under Section 155(2) of the Code.

(5)Where the allegations made in the FIR or complaint are so absurd and inherently improbable on the basis of which no prudent person can ever reach a just conclusion that there is sufficient ground for proceeding against the accused. (6)Where there is an express legal bar engrafted in any of the provisions of the Code or the concerned Act (under which a criminal proceeding is instituted) to the institution and continuance of the proceedings and/or where there is a specific provision in the Code or the concerned Act, providing efficacious redress for the grievance of the aggrieved party. (7)Where a criminal proceeding is manifestly attended with mala fide and/or where the proceeding is maliciously instituted Crl. Misc. No. M-964 of 2010 (9) with an ulterior motive for wreaking vengeance on the accused and with a view to spite him due to private and personal grudge.”

The Hon’ble Supreme Court in Jandu Pharmaceutical Works Limited and others v. Mohd. Sharaful Haque and another 2004 (4) R.C.R. (Criminal) 937 observed thus:

“It would be an abuse of process of the Court to allow any action which would result in injustice and prevent promotion of justice. In exercise of the powers, Court would be justified to quash any proceeding if it finds that initiation /continuance of it amounts to abuse of the process of Court or quashing of these proceedings would otherwise serve the ends of justice. When no offence is disclosed by the complaint, the Court may examine the question of fact. When a complaint is sought to be quashed, it is permissible to look into the materials to assess what the complainant has alleged and whether any offence is made out even if the allegations are accepted in toto. All the allegations are general in nature and no specific allegations are there against the present petitioners. The petitioners have been implicated only on the basis of general allegations. The question of demand of dowry and harassment does not arise as the petitioners were residing separately. It appears that the names of the petitioners have been mentioned in the complaint just to falsely implicate them. In view of the facts of the present case and the law position as explained above, I am of the considered view that keeping in view general and vague allegations, the present petitioners cannot be held liable as they were not having any role with regard to demand of dowry or in harassing Crl. Misc. No. M-964 of 2010 (10) thereof as they were residing separately and there was no occasion for them to demand any dowry or to harass the complainant in any manner. Accordingly, the petition is allowed and FIR No. 125 dated 21.4.2006 registered under Sections 406 and 498-A IPC at Police Station, Sector 34, Chandigarh as well as all subsequent proceedings arising therefrom are quashed qua the present petitioners.

19.5.2011
(DAYA CHAUDHARY)

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