Andhra High Court
THE HON’BLE SRI JUSTICE R.KANTHA RAO
CRIMINAL PETITION No.11849 of 2010
Gummallka Satyanarayana and others….Petitioners/A2 to A7
State, rep.by its Public Prosecutor, High Court of A.P., Hyderabad and another…..Respondents
Counsel for the Petitioners:Sri DASARI S.V.V.S.V.PRASAD
Counsel for the 1st respondent: PUBLIC PROSECUTOR
1.2009(3) ALT (Crl.) 316 (SC)
2.2013(2) ALT (Crl.) 21 (SC)
The Court made the following:
THE HON’BLE SRI JUSTICE R.KANTHA RAO
CRIMINAL PETITION No.11849 of 2010
The criminal petition is filed by the petitioners/A2 to A7 under Section 482 Cr.P.C. to quash the proceedings in C.C.No.353/2010 on the file of the Additional Judicial Magistrate of First Class, Narsapur, West Godavari District. I have heard the learned counsel appearing for the petitioners, the learned counsel appearing for the 2nd respondent/de facto complainant and the Additional Public Prosecutor, representing the State.
The brief facts of the case which is sought to be quashed may be stated as follows:
The de facto complainant and A1 fell in love with each other and A1 promised to marry the de facto complainant. When the de facto complainant asked A1 to marry her, he stated that his parents and close relatives were not agreeing for his marriage with her and thereby refused to marry her. On that the de facto complainant resorted to go on hunger strike in front of the house of A1. Thereafter, one Polisetti Vasudevarao and some elders interfered and tried to convince the parents and close relatives of A1, but they did not agree. On that, the elders performed the marriage of the de facto complainant with A1 at Annavaram Temple on 30.11.2001.
The marriage was consummated at the house of one Singuluri Gurumurthy and there the de facto complainant and A1 led conjugal life for three days. Thereafter, A1 took the de facto complainant to his parents’ house, but the parents of A1 and the other relatives who are the petitioners herein did not allow them into the house and demanded the de facto complainant to bring an amount of Rs.5 lakhs as dowry. On that, A1 kept the de facto complainant in her grandmother’s house for some time and used to lead conjugal life with her there. After the death of the grandmother of the de facto complainant, A1 shifted the de facto complainant to the house of her maternal aunt and there he used to lead conjugal life with the de facto complainant.
Subsequently, in the year 2009, the de facto complainant received a notice from the Court of the Senior Civil Judge, Narsapur in O.P.34/2009 and she came to know that A1 filed a case against her seeking divorce. Thereafter, the de facto complainant filed the aforesaid criminal case.
The present criminal petition is filed by the parents and other close relatives of A1 to quash the proceedings in the said criminal case. The learned counsel appearing for the petitioners would submit that the petitioners have nothing to do with the matters between A1 and the de facto complainant and the de facto complainant keeping in mind the differences with A1, falsely involved all the petitioners in the above criminal case, and therefore, the proceedings are liable to be quashed against them. As per the contents of the complaint made by the de facto complainant, the petitioners allegedly demanded dowry of Rs.5 lakhs 3 days after her marriage with A1 i.e. in the year 2001. The complaint was filed in the year 2010 i.e. nearly after 9 years. It is mentioned in the complaint that there were no contacts between the petitioners and A1, and therefore, the allegation made by the de facto complainant that the harassment by the petitioners is still continuing cannot be believed.
Section 498A of IPC reads as follows:
“498A: Husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty:- Whoever, being the husband or the relative of the husband of a woman, subjects such woman to cruelty shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine.”
In similar circumstances, in Manju Ram Kalita v. State of Assam1 the Supreme Court held as follows:
“Cruelty” for the purpose of Section 498-A IPC is to be established in the context of Sec.498-A IPC as it may be a different from other statutory provisions. It is to be determined/inferred by considering the conduct of the man, weighing the gravity or seriousness of his acts and to find out as to whether it is likely to drive the woman to commit suicide etc. It is to be established that the woman has been subjected to cruelty continuously/persistently or at least in close proximity of time of loding the complaint.”
The accusation levelled against the petitioners seems to be under Explanation
(b) of Section 498A IPC. From the explanation, it can be understood that the harassment meted out to the woman must be with a view to coerce her or any person related to her to meet any unlawful demand for any property. In the complaint, it is mentioned that the petitioners demanded dowry of Rs.5 lakhs 3 days after the marriage when A1 brought the de facto complainant to his parents’ house and they did not allow them into the house. Then A1 took her back and both of them stayed at the house of the grandmother of the de facto complainant and thereafter at the house the maternal aunt of the de facto complainant. Therefore, the allegation of harassment by the petitioners in connection with demand of dowry cannot be inferred. As per the explanation to Section 498A IPC, mere demand for dowry is not enough to constitute the offence, but harassment with a view to coerce the woman to meet with unlawful demand of dowry is required to attract the offence under the said provision. In Geeta Mehrotra v. State of U.P.2 the Supreme Court at paragraphs 19 and 24 held as under:
“If the FIR as it stands does not disclose specific allegation against accused more so against the co-accused specially in a matter arising out of matrimonial bickering, it would be clear abuse of the legal and judicial process to mechanically send the named accused in the FIR to undergo the trial unless of course the FIR discloses specific allegations which would persuade the court to take cognizance of the offence alleged against the relatives of the main accused who are prima facie not found to have indulged in physical and mental torture of the complainant-wife.”
From the facts of the present case, the alleged harassment for dowry by the petitioners herein relates back to the year 2001. The allegation that the petitioners herein still are demanding the de facto complainant to get an amount of Rs.5 lakhs as dowry to allow her into her in-laws house seems to be absurd because A1 and the de facto complainant have been staying away from the petitioners since several years. From the facts of the case it can be clearly understood that due to the differences between A1 and the de facto complainant, the de facto complainant after receiving the notice in divorce petition filed the present case implicating all the petitioners, who are the relatives of her husband.
Normally, in a case of this nature, there will be tendency of roping as many as relatives of the husband as accused in the case filed under Section 498A of IPC. There is inordinate delay of 9 years in filing the complaint in question and therefore, the offence under Section 498 of IPC is barred by limitation and the learned trial Court ought not to have taken cognizance of the case for the offence punishable under Sec.498A IPC against the petitioners. Except stating that when A1 brought the de facto complainant to his parents’ house in the year 2001, the petitioners demanded an amount of Rs.5 lakhs as dowry, nothing has been stated against the petitioners. Basing on the said stray allegation which relates back to the year 2001 prosecuting the petitioners for the offence punishable under Section 498AIPC is nothing but abuse of process of law. If the trial is allowed to continue against the petitioners, it would result in miscarriage of justice. Hence the criminal proceedings pending against the petitioners in the aforesaid criminal case are liable to be quashed. Consequently, the entire proceedings in C.C.No.353/2010 on the file of the Additional Judicial Magistrate of First Class, Narsapur, West Godavari District against the petitioners/A2 to A7 are hereby quashed.
The Criminal Petition is accordingly allowed.
Pending miscellaneous petitions, if any, shall stand closed in consequence.
R.KANTHA RAO,J Date: 07.02.2014