498A Jurisdiction

Punjab-Haryana High Court

Ajay Bhalla And Ors. vs Monisha Bhalla (Mrs.) on 18/8/2000

JUDGMENT

K.S. Kumaran, J.

1. Respondent Monisha Bhalla (wife of first petitioner-Ajay Bhalla) lodged acomplaint under Sections 406, 498A read with Section 34, I.P.C. which is pending before the Sub Divisional Judicial Magistrate, 1st Class, Pathankot wherein among other things she has alleged as follows.

2. The marriage between Ajay Bhalla and Monisha Bhalla was solemnised on 23.1.1995 at Pathankot, Rokka ceremony took place at Pathankot on 29.5.1994 during which Rs. 7,500/- was paid in cash to Kasturi Lal Bhalla (father of Ajay Bhalla), Rs. 5,000/- each was given to Sheela Devi (mother of Ajay Bhalla), Mrs. Rashmi (brother’s wife of Ajay Bhalla), Mrs. Neelam (sister of Ajay Bhalla),while Rs. 6,000/- was given to Kasturi Lal Bhalla. A letter dated 5.7.1994 was received by the father of the appellant from Kasturi Lal Bhalla that he wanted
satisfactory dowry of his choice, especially the furniture.

3. On 23.1.1995, Kasturi Lal Bhalla demanded 32 Milnis (cash gifts) of Rs.100/- each for his relatives. Sufficient dowry detailed in Annexure ‘A’ was given during the marriage which included 368.667 grams of gold ornaments, large number of valuable clothes, utensils, household and electrical appliances. The
list was handed over to Kasturi Lal Bhalla. Ajay Bhalla was given gifts as
detailed in Annexures ‘B’. Ajay Bhalla and his family members were given other
gifts as detailed in Annexure ‘C: After the marriage, at the time of return
journey of the Barat, the suitcase containing jewellery of the complainant
except those worn by her, were entrusted to Sheela Devi (mother of Ajay Bhalla)
and the trunks containing untensils were handed over to Mrs. Rashmi (brother’s
wife of Ajay Bhalla). The clothes in the suit-cases were entrusted to Ms.
Neelam, while, the personal gifts, cash given to Ajay Bhalla, and the personal
suit-case of the bride were given to Ajay Bhalla. The other items of dowry,
including electrical appliances, etc. detailed in Annexure ‘C’ were put under
the personal supervision of Kasturi Lal Bhalla. The dowry articles remained in
the custody of the respective accused and whenever the complainant was allowed
to use any item, she returned the same to the accused as demanded.

4. On 26.1.1995, Ajay Bhalla demanded a music system worth Rs. 24,000/-, and
took Rs. 11,000/- lying with the complainant and misappropriated the same. On
27.1.1995, Ajay Bhalla and his parents told the complainant that they were
expecting a car and air-conditioner, and on 7.2.1995, the petitioners told the
complainant that their demand should be conveyed to her father. On 19.2.1995,
the accused demanded Rs. 42,000/- in cash for the purchase of furniture. On
5.3.1995, Ajay Bhalla and his father demanded a scooter. The complainant was
sent to her parental home on 27.3.1995, and Ajay Bhalla and his mother wanted
her to bring heavy gold items and cash for furniture. The father of the
complainant gave Rs. 42,000/- which was handed over by the complainant to Ajay
Bhalla. On 10.5.1995, Ajay Bhalla demanded Rs. 2.00 lacs from the complainant to
set up a computer centre. When the complainant said that her father cannot do
so, Ajay Bhalla slapped her. On 8.10.1995, the complainant was beaten and pulled
by Ajay Bhalla, Rashmi and Neelam. The complainant was beaten by Ajay Bhalla,
his parents and Rashmi on 14th, 16th, 17th of December, 1995 to coerce her to
meet the demands. On 24.2.1996, the accused again reminded the complainant to
the failure of her father to supply the additional items of dowry, and while
Ajay Bhalla slapped her, her hair was pulled by Ajay Bhalla’s mother and sister-
in-law. The complainant was pushed against the wall by Kasturi Lal Bhalla. Ajay
Bhalla tried to strangulate the complainant and took a wooden club/Thapi and hit
her on the back. On 26.2.1996, the complainant was slapped and pushed out of the
house by Ajay Bhalla, his parents and Rashmi. The accused have dishonestly
misappropriate the dowry articles of the complainant

5. On this complaint, the learned Sub-Divisional Judicial Magistrate, 1st
Class, Pathankot, after recording the preliminary evidence, summoned Ajay
Bhalla, his parents and Rashmi (namely, the petitioners herein) to face trial
under Sections 406, 498A/34, I.P.C. The petitioners filed an application for
recalling the summoned order, but the learned Additional Chief Judicial
Magistrate, Gurdaspur dismissed their application. That is why the petitioners
have approached this Court under Section 482, Cr.P.C. for quashing the complaint
(Annexure P-1), the summoning order (Annexure P-2) and the order dated 18.3.1998
refusing to recall the summoning order (Annexure P-3).

READ  498A quash under Section 482, on Jurisdiction ground.

6. The grounds urged by the petitioners are as follows :

(1) The complaint does not disclose the commission of any offence.

(2) Even if the allegations are taken to be correct, the Courts at
Pathankot and Gurdaspur have no jurisdiction to try the complaint since the
alleged offence under Sections 406, 498A, I.P.C. were never committed at these
places.

(3) The complaint is general and vague.

(4) The allegations in the complaint are false.

7. The respondent-complainant filed a reply denying/controverting the
allegations in the petition, for which the petitioners have also filed the
replication reiterating their stand.

8. I have heard the Counsels for both the sides and perused the records on
file.

9. I have extracted the material allegations in the complaint above which
clearly go to show that there are specific allegations of entrustment and
cruelty against the petitioner. Therefore, the contention that these allegations
are general, and vague, that they are false, and that they do not make out an
offence under Sections 406/498A, I.P.C., cannot at all be accepted.

10. The other contention raised by the petitioners is that the Courts at
Pathankot and Gurdaspur have no jurisdiction to entertain and try the offences
as alleged. I will now examine this contention put forward by the petitioners.
The complaint was lodged by the complainant before the Sub-Divisional Judicial
Magistrate, 1st Class, Pathankot, who after going through the preliminary
evidence, ordered the petitioners to be summoned, while holding that there was
no ground for proceeding against the 5th accused. Later on, this case was
transferred to the Court at Gurdaspur, and the Additional Chief Judicial
Magistrate had declined the request of the petitioners to recall the summary
order (order Annexure P-3 dated 18.3.1998). The allegations in the complaint
clearly show that the marriage between complainant-Monisha Bhalla and first
petitioner Ajay Bhalla was solemnised on 23.1.1995 at Pathankot. The complainant
has also alleged in her complaint that at the time of the marriage, the
complainant gave sufficient dowry articles as detailed in Annexure-A (except the
items given after the marriage in respect of which a separate list was
prepared). The complainant has also alleged that certain gifts were given to the
first petitioner and his family members which are detailed in Annexure ‘C She
has also alleged that at the time of the return journey of the Barat, the suit
case containing the jewellery of the complainant, except those worn by her, were
entrusted to the third petitioner herein, while the trunks containing the
utensils were handed over to the 4th petitioner herein, and the personal gifts
and cash given to the bridegroom and the personal suitcase of the complainant
was given to the first petitioner. She has also alleged that the dowry including
the electrical goods mentioned in Annexure ‘C’ were put under the personal
supervision of the 2nd petitioner. She has also alleged that the dowry articles
as detailed above remained in the custody of the respective accused and whenever
she requested, she was allowed to use any of the items, but she returned the
same to the accused. Therefore, we find that there are clear allegations of
entrustment of dowry articles to the petitioners at Pathankot. Therefore, it
cannot be stated that no complaint regarding the offence under Section 406,
I.P.C. can be entertained at Pathankot. But the learned Counsel for the
petitioners wanted to contend that even as per the allegations in the complaint,
the complainant was allowed to use whatever she wanted at Saharanpur, and,
therefore, whenever she allegedly return, returned back such articles to the
petitioners, there could only be an entrustment at Saharanpur. But it is no as
if all the items were given to the complainant at Saharanpur, and that all the
items were re-entrusted to the petitioners at Saharanpur. Even otherwise, the
initial entrustment was at Pathankot and there is nothing to show as to which of
the items were returned to the complainant at Saharanpur and which of the items
were re-entrusted by her to the petitioners. In these circumstances, it cannot
be stated that the Court at Pathankot has no jurisdiction to entertain the
complaint under Section 406, I.P.C.

11. So far as the offence under Section 498A, I.P.C. is concerned, the
contention of the petitioners is that even as per the allegations in the
complaint, the alleged cruelty took place at Saharanpur where the complainant
lived after her marriage, and, therefore, the Court either at Pathankot or
Gurdaspur will have no jurisdiction to entertain and try the complaint with
regard to Section 498A, I.P.C. But the learned Counsel for the complainant, on
the other hand, contended that the complainant’s father had received a letter,
on 5.7.1994 from 2nd petitioner-Kasturi Lal Bhalla demanding dowry. He also
contended that there is also allegation in the complaint that at the time of
conventional Phera, the petitioners had informed the complainant that the
complainant should convey their demand for car and A.C. Pointing out these
allegations, the learned Counsel for the complainant contended that since the
letter was received at Pathankot and since the demand was made at Pathankot, the
Court at Pathankot has jurisdiction. But from the allegations, it is clear that
the letter was received prior to the marriage. Therefore, at that time, there
was no relationship between Ajay Bhalla and the complainant as husband and wife.
Therefore, it cannot, on this ground be pointed out by the learned Counsel for
the complainant be held that the petitioners treated the complainant cruelly at
Pathankot also.

READ  Divorce : False Allegation of Dowry demand, Threat of commit suicide and assault, Cruelty

12. But another contention put forward by the learned Counsel for the
complainant is that the demand for dowry, the entrustment during marriage, the
further demand for dowry and the cruelty meted out to the complainant and her
refusal/inability to meet the demands are all parts of the same transaction,
and, therefore, once it is established that the entrustment of the dowry
articles has been made at Pathankot, the Court at Pathankot will also have
jurisdiction to try the other offences whatsoever arising out of the same
connected transaction. In this connection, the learned Counsel for respondent-
complainant relied upon the decision of this Court in Jagdish Kumar v. State of
Haryana, 1998 (4) All India Criminal Law Reporter 119 (Pb. & Hry.), wherein this
Court held that where part of the offence is committed at Rajpura and part of
the offence is committed at Dabwali, the Court at Dabawali has jurisdiction to
try the series of acts which form part of the same transaction. The learned
Counsel for the complainant also relied upon another decision of this Court in
Surinder Kaur @ Menrater v. State of Punjab, 1998 (1) All India Criminal Law
Reporter 284 (Pb. & Hry.). That is a case where the Court has occasion to
consider the question as to in which of the two Courts the case would be
triable, in a case where the offence under Section 498A is triable in one Court,
and the offence under Section 406, I.P.C. is triable in either of the two
Courts. The Court, while answering this question, held as follows :

“……. The reply in that respect can be found under Section 184, Cr.P.C.
It provides that in a case where person is charged with more than one offence
which, by virtue of provisions of under Section 219, 220 and 221 of Cr.P.C. can
be enquired into or tried by any Court competent to inquire that case, may be
tried in any of those Courts. Section 220(1), Cr.P.C. provides that in case
where any one series of act connected to one another from same transactions,
more offences than one are committed by the same person, he may be charged with
and tried at one trial for every such offence. The question thus is as to
whether it could be said that offences under Section 498A and Section 406 in
this case are the outcome of series of acts connected to one another so as to
form same transactions. In order to sort out that aspect, one has to take into
consideration the sequence of events in this case. Allegations are that accused
committed acts falling under Section 498A, I.P.C. That ultimately culminated in
deprivation of the matrimonial home to the wife. At the same time, she had
demanded return (sic) of ‘Stridhan’ which was declined. So the events in this
case are so closely connected with each other that it can be safely said that
these form series of acts in the course of, and resulting in, cruelty under
Section 498A, I.P.C. These are series of acts so connected together as to form
transaction of cruelty as defined by Explanation to Section 498A, I.P.C. The
word ‘transaction’ is a noun and form the transitive verb ‘ transact’, the
dictionary meaning of which, among others, is to carry on or conduct activities
to a conclusion, In this case, the allegation of conduct falling under Section
498A, I.P.C. also encompasses the alleged denial to return ‘Stridhan’. In my
opinion, therefore, these cases could have been tried at the Court in Amritsar
also.”

READ  498a, Extra marital affair

13. But the learned Counsel for the petitioners, of course, relied upon
another decision of this Court in Jagan Nath Suri v. Babita, 1997 (4) All India
Criminal Law Reporter 477 (Pb. & Hry.), in support of his contention. But that
was a case where the acts of cruelty were committed at Dehradun. The wife came
to reside with her parents at Ferozepur and lodged a complaint under Section
498A, I.P.C. Therefore, this Court held that the Court at Ferozepur has no
jurisdiction to deal with the offence under Section 498A, I.P.C. But so far as
the offence under Section 406, I.P.C. is concerned, this Court held that the
complaint at Ferozepur is maintainable in view of the allegations that the dowry
articles were entrusted at Ferozepur. The Court, taking note of the fact that
the alleged cruelty was committed at Dehradun, quashed the complaint under
Section 498A, I.P.C. only.

14. Relying upon these decisions, the learned Counsel for the petitioners
contended that inasmuch as the complainant has not been able to show that any
act of cruelty was committed at Pathankot, the complaint under Section 498A has
to be quashed. Of course, the decision in Jagan Nath Suri (supra), was rendered
by me. But in my view, in the circumstances of the case on hand, the complaint
need not be quashed because, if the complaint with regard to Section 498A,
I.P.C. is quashed, then the complainant will have to lodge another complaint at
Saharanpur under Section 498A, in which case there will be two complaints at two
different places with reference to the acts which form part of the same
transaction. In the present case also, we find that the dowry article was
demanded even before the marriage as per the allegations in the complaint and
then allegedly, the dowry articles were entrusted at the time of the marriage.
It is also alleged that in the marital home also, the complainant was ill-
treated by the petitioners demanding more dowry. Ultimately, she was turned out
of her marital home. All these series of acts are stated to have been committed
only on the demand for dowry which the complainant was unable to meet.
Therefore, these series of acts form part of the same transaction, though they
are alleged to have been committed during the course of a period. Therefore,
when the Court at Pathankot has jurisdiction to try the offence under Section
406, I.P.C, it can certainly be held that it has jurisdiction to try the
offences arising out of the series of acts which form part of the same
transaction. Therefore, following the view taken by this .Court in Surinder Kaur
@ Menrata v. State of Punjab (supra), I hold that the Court at Pathankot in the
circumstances of the present case, can try the alleged offence under Section
498A also. Therefore, the case, which now stands transferred to Gurdaspur can be
tried at Gurdaspur. In these circumstances, I find no ground to quash the
proceedings pending in that Court.

15. Another reason for declining the relief prayed for by the petitioners is also this. As pointed out already, if the proceedings under Section 498A, I.P.C.are quashed, then the complainant will be forced to lodge a- complaint with regard to the alleged offence under Section 498A IPC at Shaharanpur. Then the petitioner will have to face two complaints at two different places. It may even be that either of the parties may move an application for transfer of the cases to one place. Then there will be unnecessary waste of time and also waste of money for both the sides. The cases, arising from the series of the same transactions and likely to be transferred to one or the other Court for disposal. Therefore, to avoid unnecessary waste of time and money of both the parties also, I am of the view that this Court should not in the circumstances of the case, interfere.

16. Ultimately, this petition fails and is dismissed.

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