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Section 498A IPC Quash with Section 482 CrPC

IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT MADRAS

DATED 03.03.2014

CORAM : THE HONOURABLE MR.JUSTICE C.T.SELVAM

Crl.O.P.Nos.16276 of 2010 and 25048 of 2009
and M.P.Nos, 1,1/2010 & 1/2009

1.Shanmugavel
2.Suseela
3.Kavitha .. Petitioners in both Crl.O.Ps.

Vs

1.State By
Inspector of Police,
All Women Police Station,
Pollachi.

2.Maya Moorthy
.. Respondents in both Crl.O.Ps.

Prayer in Crl.O.P.16276/2010: Criminal Original Petition filed under section 482 of Criminal Procedure Code praying to call for the records in C.C.No.68/2010 on the file of the Judicial Magistrate No.I, Pollachi and quash the same in so far as they relate to the petitioners.

Prayer in Crl.O.P.25048/2009: Criminal Original Petition filed under section 482 of Criminal Procedure Code praying to call for the records in Cr.No.16/2009 on the file of the respondent police and quash the same.

For Petitioners : Mr.AR.L.Sundaresan for Mr.V.Bharathidasan For Respondents : Mr.C.Emalias, Additional Public Prosecutor for R1 Mr.V.Bhiman for M/s.Sampath Kumar Associates for R2

C O M M O N O R D E R

These petitioners are the accused 2 to 4 in case pending trial in C.C.No.68/2010 on the file of the Judicial Magistrate No.I, Pollachi. 1st accused in the case is the husband of the defacto complainant, while the accused 2 and 3 are her parents-in-law and 4th accused is her sister-in-law. The marriage between the 1st accused and the defacto complainant took place on 27.08.2007. A child was born to them on 12.08.2008. Both families gathered on 24.06.2009 to witness the child’s tonsuring. The occurrence giving rise to the complaint is alleged to have taken place on 30.07.2009. The complaint was preferred on 05.08.2009. The complaint reads as follows:

From V.E.Maaya (25 yrs), D/o.V.K.Eswaramoorthi, 280, Vinayagar Koil Street, II, Moolapalayam, Erode-2.

To Sub-Inspector of Police, All Women Police Station, Pollachi.

Dear Madam, I was married to K.S.Vetrevel of Pollachi on 27.8.2007. Initially at the time of marriage we were forced to give dowry of 500 sovereigns of gold and a car worth Rs.20 lakhs Honda CRV. We also provided so. They said he is an undergraduate B.Com. But after marriage I came to know the truth that he has just studied 9th Std. Though I adjusted all their tortures, they are now insisting to give Rs.2 Crore again. After marriage only I came to know that he is a diabetic patient with a sugar level around 300  400. Still he is a alcoholist consuming about 1 lt. per day and tortured me at nights. He thereafter get ill due to this habit with bulges in pancreas and changes in liver. I pleaded him to give up this habit, but he did not cooperate even once. I got conceived at December 2007. On June 2007, during the function they tortured me to give more sovereigns of gold. Later 10 days they forced me to go to my native place. I was not allowed to stay with them. Even after delivery my in-laws did not come and see the baby. I, with the baby, stayed in Erode with my parents for 11 months. Now on 24.06.2009 hair removing function his sister came and spoke to us in Erode saying her brother was changed. Now you come and stay with him. Believing that I came on 24.6.2009 and was staying with him at Mahalingapuram. Initially I was staying with my husband in-laws at Chinnampalayam. But due to some misunderstanding between him and his parents, he was staying along in Mahalingapuram since 10.7.2008. So now I am staying with him in Mahalingapuram. Today my parents came to Pollachi to invite us for the Aadi Festival. At this time, they started to ask for Rs.2 Crore and 500 sovereigns of gold as they require that to start a mattress factory. He finally said if am not provided, I was to stay only in Erode. With this argument around 7 p.m. he harassed me by slapping. Now he is threatening me staying that his father will kill me. Then he and his sister will bring people from Marapettai and kill my parents at Erode and even the baby. He says he is going to marry somebody else with this family support. Now he, his sister and his parents are threatening. If I am giving this complaint, they is going to file the next complaint on me that my character is worst and I have theft some cash from their house. As I need my parents as well as my baby (11 months old) safely, I request your goodself to kindly take necessary step regarding this contact. I thank you.

Sincerely Yours, Sd.-

(V.E.Maya Murthy)”

2. Mr.AR.L.Sundaresan, learned Senior Counsel for petitioners submitted that even as per Section 161(3) Cr.P.C. statement of the defacto complainant, her sister-in-law/4th accused had informed her of the accused not having demanded any dowry towards marriage and that as her brother, the 1st accused was venturing on a new business, a sum of Rs.2 Crores may be provided theretowards. The defacto complainant has stated that her husband, the 1st accused asked her to obtain 500 sovereigns of jewels belonging to her, which were held under the control of her parents. She had not informed her father thereregards. She had informed her mother-in-law, the 3rd accused, who had advised her not to bring the same, since the 1st accused was given to wayward ways and the same was safe with her parents.

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3. A further reading of Section 161(3) Cr.P.C. statement of the defacto complainant also makes clear that taking up of a separate residence by the 1st accused and the defacto complainant/wife was owing to dispute between father and son. In this scenario, the allegations of visit by her to her matrimonial home, the 1st accused having demanded that a sum of Rs.2 Crores be provided immediately, of the defacto complainant having maintained silence, and a most unlikely occurrence of the 1st accused pushing her, the 3rd accused/mother-in-law holding her and of the 2nd accused/father-in-law beating her stands informed. Her statement goes on to state that after she had returned to her parental home owing to ill treatment meted out to her by the 1st accused, it was the 4th accused/sister-in-law who had informed that her husband/1st accused had reformed and had asked her to return to the matrimonial home assuring that none would interfere or make demands. The statements of the father and mother of the defacto complainant were, in substance, mere repetitions of the defacto complainant’s statement. The statement of the other witnesses excepting the official witnesses do not inform of any knowledge of anything untoward in the relationship between the 1st accused and the defacto complainant. They have come to know of the complaint preferred by the defacto complainant only from newspapers.

4. Learned Senior Counsel for petitioners would submit that from the First Information Report, the grievance of the defato complainant was that her husband/1st accused had been informed to be a person of high education, whereas he has only completed 9th standard and further that he was an alcoholic and suffered health problems. Learned Senior Counsel relied on the decisions of the Hon’ble Apex Court in Preeti Gupta and Another v. State of Jharkhand and Another [(2010) 7 SCC 667] and Bhusan Kumar Meen v. State of Punjab and Others [(2011) 8 SCC 438] as also the judgment of this Court in Mandirakonar v. State, rep by the Deputy Superintendent of Police, Thiruchendur, Meignanpuram Police, Tuticorin District [2006 (2) MWN (Cr.)386]. Learned Senior Counsel for the petitioners would conclude by submitting that even as per the statement of the defacto complainant, demands were made by the 1st accused and she suffered torture at his hands. As regards the petitioners/accused 2 to 4 there absolutely was no case.

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5. Mr.V.Bhiman, learned counsel for the 2nd respondent would submit that the statement of L.W.2, father of the defacto complainant, informed of her having been beaten by 2nd accused and of his stating that he would prefer a complaint imputing unchastity and thievery against the defacto complainant. Section 161 Cr.P.C. statement of L.W.3, the defacto complainant’s mother informed of her having been held by the 3rd accused and of her having beaten by the 2nd accused. Learned counsel for the 2nd respondent would submit that the charge sheet in the case was well merited and the petitioners would have to face trial.

6. Upon considering the rival submissions, this Court is inclined to allow Crl.O.P.No.16276/2010 for the following reasons:

(1) The very Section 161(3) Cr.P.C. statement of the defacto complainant shows that the 3rd accused, her mother-in-law, had advised her against bringing her jewelry of 500 sovereigns from her parental house towards protecting her interest and her sister-in-law, the 4th accused had assured her of her brother, the 1st accused having mended ways and had sought to bring about rapprochement.

(2) The allegation of wrongful conduct by the mother-in-law/3rd accused in holding the defacto complainant and of her father-in-law/2nd accused beating her, is most artificial. It is most unlikely that the mother-in-law/3rd accused would hold her daughter-in-law towards facilitating the father-in-law/2nd accused beating her.

(3) Admittedly the 4th accused had required the defacto complainant to bring a sum of Rs.2 Crores, informing that no dowry has been demanded at the time of marriage, for enabling the 1st accused to venture upon a new business. We are in agreement with the decision of this Court in Mandirakonar v. State, rep by the Deputy Superintendent of Police, Thiruchendur, Meignanpuram Police, Tuticorin District [2006 (2) MWN (Cr.)386] when it informs that demands made towards improvement of business of the accused and unrelated of the marriage, cannot be seen to be unlawful demands so as to attract Section 498-A IPC.

7. The Hon’ble Apex Court in Preeti Gupta and Another v. State of Jharkhand and Another [(2010) 7 SCC 667] held as follows:

“32. It is a matter of common experience that most of these complaints under Section 498-A IPC are filed in the heat of the moment over trivial issues without proper deliberations. We come across a large number of such complaints which are not even bona fide and are filed with oblique motive. At the same time, rapid increase in the number of genuine cases of dowry harassment is also a matter of serious concern.

33. The learned members of the Bar have enormous social responsibility and obligation to ensure that the social fibre of family life is not ruined or demolished. They must ensure that exaggerated versions of small incidents should not be reflected in the criminal complaints. Majority of the complaints are filed either on their advice or with their concurrence. The learned members of the Bar who belong to a noble profession must maintain its noble traditions and should treat every complaint under Section 498-A as a basic human problem and must make serious endeavour to help the parties in arriving at an amicable resolution of that human problem. They must discharge their duties to the best of their abilities to ensure that social fibre, peace and tranquillity of the society remains intact. The members of the Bar should also ensure that one complaint should not lead to multiple cases.

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34. Unfortunately, at the time of filing of the complaint the implications and consequences are not properly visualised by the complainant that such complaint can lead to insurmountable harassment, agony and pain to the complainant, accused and his close relations.

35. The ultimate object of justice is to find out the truth and punish the guilty and protect the innocent. To find out the truth is a Herculean task in majority of these complaints. The tendency of implicating the husband and all his immediate relations is also not uncommon. At times, even after the conclusion of the criminal trial, it is difficult to ascertain the real truth. The courts have to be extremely careful and cautious in dealing with these complaints and must take pragmatic realities into consideration while dealing with matrimonial cases. The allegations of harassment of husbands close relations who had been living in different cities and never visited or rarely visited the place where the complainant resided would have an entirely different complexion. The allegations of the complainant are required to be scrutinised with great care and circumspection.

36. Experience reveals that long and protracted criminal trials lead to rancour, acrimony and bitterness in the relationship amongst the parties. It is also a matter of common knowledge that in cases filed by the complainant if the husband or the husbands relations had to remain in jail even for a few days, it would ruin the chances of an amicable settlement altogether. The process of suffering is extremely long and painful.

8. In Bhushan Kumar Meen v. State of Punjab and Others [(2011) 8 SCC 438] on-and-off relationship between the parties had been taken note of and the likelihood of an offence under Section 498A IPC having been alleged owing to misunderstanding between the parties and of attack by one on the other having been caused in the course of stormy marriage stands taken note of.

9. Once we hold that the alleged offence under Section 498-A I.P.C. stands not attracted since the demand in a sum of Rs.2 Crores was not unlawful, it follows that the offence under Section 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act also would be attracted not. As regards the offence under Section 506(ii) IPC, allegations of such offence are most easily made and most difficult to disprove. Allegations of such offence alone, in the circumstances of the case, should not impose upon the petitioners, the rigour of trial.

10. Allowing of Crl.O.P.No.16276/2010, Crl.O.P.No.25048/2009 stands dismissed as infructuous. Consequently, connected miscellaneous petitions are closed.

11. Taking note of the submission of the learned counsel for the 2nd respondent, this Court would require the Judicial Magistrate No.I, Pollachi to dispose of the case in C.C.No.68/2010, as expeditiously as possible. The observations made hereinabove are only towards disposing of the present petitions and shall not have any bearing upon the trial of the case before the Court below.

03.03.2014 Index : Yes / No Internet : Yes / No jvm To

1.Inspector of Police, All Women Police Station, Pollachi.

2.The Public Prosecutor, High Court, Chennai.

C.T.SELVAM, J.

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