HIGH COURT OF MADHYA PRADESH : AT JABALPUR
Miscellaneous Criminal Case No.16651/2015
Mohit Jain and others vs. State of Madhya Pradesh and another
Present:- Hon’ble Shri Justice C.V. Sirpurkar
Petitioner Nos.1 & 4 Mohit Jain and Harshit Jain are present in person.
They have filed power of Attorney given in their favour by petitioner nos. 2 & 3.
Shri S. P. Chadar, panel lawyer for the respondent no.1/State.
Shri Saurabh Parmar, advocate for respondent no.2.
O R D E R (06-02-2017)
1. This petition under section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure invoking inherent powers of the High Court has been filed on behalf of petitioners/accused persons Mohit Jain, Prakash Jain, Anita Jain and Harshit Jain. It is directed against the FIR No.249/2014 registered by P.S. Mahila Thana, Bhopal on 11.11.2014 at the instance of Sonali Jain and the criminal case arising therefrom.
2. The facts necessary for disposal of this miscellaneous criminal case may be summarized as hereunder. Victim Sonali Jain filed aforesaid first information report against her husband Mohit, mother-in-law Anita, father-in-law Prakash and brother-in-law Harshit. On aforesaid first information report, an offence under section 498-A and 506 read with section 34 of the Indian Penal Code and section 3/4 of Dowry Prohibition Act was registered against the petitioners.
3. It is not in dispute that the victim Sonali married petitioner Mohit on 07.05.2013 with the consent of their family at Somesh Garden, Indore. The victim lived with the petitioners/accused persons at their residence at Indore till 23.07.2014, thereafter she returned to her maternal home with her relatives.
4. As per the prosecution case, the father of the victim had given ornaments and household goods worth Rs.9,50,000/- at the time of marriage. After about a week from the date of the marriage, all four accused persons, namely, Mohit, Prakash, Anita and Harshit started to taunt the victim that her parents had given nothing in the marriage. Her mother-in-law used to get the entire domestic work performed by her and when her husband returned at night, she used to complain to her husband that the victim does nothing during the day; whereon, her husband Mohit used to beat her. When a relative visited them, her father-in-law and brother-in-law used to taunt her regarding insufficiency of dowry and humiliate her. At the time of Raksha Bandhan, she was sent to her maternal home on the condition that she would bring back a cooler and an almirah. When her husband Mohit came to her maternal home to fetch her, her parents gave a gold ring and Rs.5000/- in cash to Mohit; However, he misbehaved with her parents at Bhopal and demanded a gold bracelet. On 20.02.2014, the victim gave birth to a son at Bhopal. The entire expense of the delivery in a private hospital was borne by her father. On that occasion, the accused persons demanded Rs.1,00,000/- for the purpose of buying a car. When their demand was not met, they misbehaved and returned to Indore from the hospital but they did not come to fetch her for next five months. They used to send messages that they won’t take her to Indore unless their demand was fulfilled. On 23.03.2014, her mother-in-law Anita and brother-in-law Harshit came to Bhopal and misbehaved with her parents. They threatened that unless they were given Rs. 1,00,000/-, they would keep harassing the victim. When victim’s father created social pressure, the accused persons took her to Indore on 01.05.2014 and again started to harass and persecute her. They used to push and beat her and threatened that unless she brought Rs.1,00,000/- they would kill her. Ultimately, on 23.07.2014, she was taken to her maternal home by her maternal uncle and other relatives. Since, the victim did not want to break her home she gave an application in the Family Consultation Centre at P.S. Mahila Thana, Bhopal but accused persons were not prepared to admit their mistakes and insisted on their demand for dowry; therefore, no conciliation could be achieved.
5. The petitioners have assailed the first information report mainly on the ground that prior to her marriage to petitioner Mohit, the victim had an affair with a person named Amar Nayak, resident of Sagar; however, since, aforesaid person used to consume liquor, the parents of the victim did not approve of the match. Consequently, the victim was married off to the petitioner but she kept contact with the aforesaid person on telephone and social media. She was never interested in her relationship with the petitioner Mohit and did everything to break up the relationship. She first lodged a false report with P.S. Mahila Thana, Jahagirabad, Bhopal on 09.08.2014. In that elaborate complaint running into as many as eight pages, there was no mention of specific demand for dowry. There was no indication to the effect that any part of the cause of action arose within the territorial jurisdiction of district Bhopal. Mahila Thana, Bhopal declined to register a case against the petitioners on the basis of aforesaid report and referred the matter to Family Consultation Centre, which conducted conciliation proceedings on 16.09.2014, 07.10.2014, 19.08.2014 and 28.10.2014. As per the record of the proceedings also, no allegation with regard to dowry harassment was made. However, due to noncorporation of the victim, conciliation proceedings failed to yield any result. Thereafter, as per legal advise, the victim lodged a fresh report against the petitioners on 11.11.2014 drafted in such a manner as to introduce the elements of offence under section 498-A of the I.P.C.. The events were fabricated to bring the cause of action within the territorial jurisdiction of the Courts at Bhopal. Thereafter, the criminal case against the petitioners was registered. Thus, prima facie the allegations of dowry harassment are false. The record of proceedings before the Family Consultation Centre also reveal that the dowry was never an issue between the parties. The first information report has been lodged with an ulterior motive to wreak vengeance upon the petitioners by the disgruntled victim. It has also been submitted on behalf of the petitioners that as per the report dated 09.08.2014, the entire chain of events is said to have taken place at Indore and no part of cause of action arose within the territorial jurisdiction of District Bhopal. Therefore, the Judicial Magistrate First Class sitting at Bhopal, had no territorial jurisdiction to take cognizance of the offence. Hence, it has been prayed that the first information report and the proceedings arising therefrom be quashed.
6. Learned counsel for the respondent/victim Sonali has opposed the application on the ground that even in the first report lodged on 09.08.2014, elements of cruelty as defined under Explanation to Section 498-A (a) of the I.P.C. were present. It has further been submitted that it is not necessary that details of all allegations must be incorporated in the first report. The first information report dated 14.11.2014 and the statements made by the witnesses under section 161 of the Code of Criminal Procedure encompasses all ingredients necessary to constitute the offence under section 498-A of the I.P.C. and 3/4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act. Therefore, it has been prayed that the petition be dismissed.
7. On a perusal of the record and due consideration of the rival contentions, the Court is of the view that this petition under section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure must succeed for the reasons hereinafter stated.
8. A perusal of copies of the order sheets filed with the petition reveals that the case before the trial Court is still pending at the stage of prosecution evidence. By order dated 19.03.2014, the trial Court had framed a charge under section 498-A and 506 (Part II) of the I.P.C. and section 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act against the petitioners.
9. However, it has been held by the Apex Court in the case of Satish Mehra Vs. State (NCT of Delhi) and another, AIR 2013 SC 506 that the power to interdict a proceeding either at the threshold or at an intermediate stage of the trial is inherent in a High Court on the broad principle that in case the allegations made in the FIR or the criminal complaint, as the case may be, prima facie do not disclose a triable offence, there can be no reason as to why the accused should be made to suffer the agony of legal proceeding. Thus, such power would be available for exercise not only at the threshold of a criminal proceeding but also at a relatively advanced stage thereof, namely, after framing of charge against the accused. Thus, the High Court can certainly exercise power under section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure after filing of the charge sheet or even after framing of charge.
10. It has also been held by the Supreme Court in the case of Harshendra Kumar D. Vs. Rebatilata Koley AIR 2011 SC 1090 that uncontroverted documents or material of unimpeachable or sterling character may be considered while exercising jurisdiction under section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The same view has been taken by the Supreme Court in the cases of State of Orissa vs. Devendra Nath Padhi, 2005(1) SCC 568, Rukmani vs. Vijaya, AIR 2009 SC 1013 and Rajiv Thapar vs. Madan Lal Kapoor, AIR 2013 SC (supp.) 1056.
11. Thus, the documents filed by the petitioners which have not been disputed by the respondent may be considered even for the purpose of quashing the proceedings in exercise of powers under section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. As such, we have before us a copy of the application dated 09.08.2014 made by victim Sonali Jain against the petitioners to the SHO P.S. Mahila Thana Jahagirabad, Bhopal as also the copy of written report dated 11.11.2014 made by victim Sonali Jain to SHO Mahila Thana Jahagirabad, Bhopal. The petitioners have also filed copies of the proceedings conducted before the Family Consultation Centre on 16.09.2014, 07.10.2014, 19.08.2014 and 28.10.2014. None of the aforesaid documents have controverted on behalf of respondent. As such, they can be taken into consideration for the purpose of holding as to whether or not a case for quashing the first information report is made out.
12. It has been held in the case of State of Haryana Vs. Bhajan Lal, AIR 1992 SC 604, that where a criminal proceeding is manifestly attended with mala fide and/or where the proceeding is maliciously instituted with an ulterior motive for wreaking vengeance on the accused and with a view to spite him due to private and personal grudge, extraordinary or inherent powers reserved to the High Court under section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure can be exercised to quash first information report.
13. The victim has averred in the report dated 09.08.2014 that after about a week from the date of her marriage, her mother-in-law noticed certain spots on her stomach and suspected that she was suffering from some decease and the same has been concealed from them by her parents. Thereafter, the behaviour of the petitioners towards her changed. The entire complaint running into eight pages consists of vague allegations regarding taunts, mental abuse and humiliation etc.. There has been no specific allegation regarding any demand for dowry made by the petitioners and any harassment due to nonfulfillment of such demand or any harassment with a view to coerce the victim or her family members to meet such demand. The allegations made in the report dated 09.08.2014 relate to marital discord or ego hassles, which cannot be said to be of such a nature as is likely to drive the victim to commit suicide or to cause grave injuries or danger to life, limb or health of the
victim. Moreover, no part of the incident is alleged to have occurred within the territorial jurisdiction of District Bhopal. Everything is said to have occurred at the matrimonial home of the victim at Indore. Significantly, P.S. Mahila Thana Bhopal had not registered any offence on the report dated 09.08.2014. The matter was rightly referred to the Family Consultation Centre attached to police station.
14. Copy of proceedings dated 16.09.2014, 07.10.2014, 19.08.2014 and 28.10.2014 reveals that the grievance of the petitioners centered around harassment, abuse, misbehaviour etc.; whereas, the case of the petitioners was that the victim had an affair with another boy but the parents of the victim did not approve of him; therefore, the victim is unable to adjust and settle in her matrimonial home. Though, there is a mention of physical and mental harassment against the petitioners, it has not been specifically stated as to what kind of physical harassment the victim was made to suffer. Ultimately, the parties could not arrive at a compromise and the conciliation proceedings broke down.
15. After failure of the proceedings on 28.10.2014, the first information report dated 11.11.2014 was lodged. In that report, the following allegations were made for the first time: (1) the father of the victim had given ornaments worth Rs.9,50,000/- at the time of marriage; (2) petitioner Mohit had misbehaved with the parents of the victim when he had gone to Bhopal to fetch her after Raksha Bandhan; and had demanded a gold bracelet; (3) when the petitioners arrived at Bhopal on the occasion of delivery of the victim, they demanded Rs.1,00,000/- for purchasing a car and threatened that otherwise they would not keep victim properly; (4) after the delivery, the petitioners did not take the victim to Bhopal for a period of about five months and kept sending messages that unless their demand was met, they would not take the victim to her matrimonial home; (5) On 23.03.2014, petitioners Anita and Harshit went to Bhopal and started misbehaving with victim’s father and told him that unless he pays Rs.1,00,000/- they would keep harasing the victim in the same manner.
16. Thus, averments in latter report, would also indicate that a part of cause of action arose at Bhopal giving the Court at Bhopal territorial jurisdiction to try the offence; however, these allegations are conspicuous by their absence in the report dated 09.08.2014. There is no explanation as to why these averments were not made in the first report. In these circumstances, the conclusion is inescapable that since the police did not register the offence on report dated 09.08.2014 and the conciliation proceedings broke down, the report dated 11.11.2014 was lodged by concocting events and introducing the ingredients of section 498-A of the I.P.C., so as to ensure that the Court at Bhopal gets territorial jurisdiction.
17. In this regard, it is pertinent to note that the Supreme Court in the case of Arnesh Kumar vs. State of Bihar, 2014 (8) SCC 273 observed as follows: “4. There is a phenomenal increase in matrimonial disputes in recent years. The institution of marriage is greatly revered in this country. Section 498-A IPC was introduced with avowed object to combat the menace of harassment to a woman at the hands of her husband and his relatives. The fact that Section 498-A IPC is a cognizable and non-bailable offence has lent it a dubious place of pride amongst the provisions that are used as weapons rather than shield by disgruntled wives. The simplest way to harass is to get the husband and his relatives arrested under this provision. In a quite number of cases, bedridden grandfathers and grandmothers of the husbands, their sisters living abroad for decades are arrested.”
18. In aforesaid circumstances, in the opinion of this Court, the criminal proceedings are manifestly attended with mala fide and have been maliciously instituted with an ulterior motive for wreaking vengeance on the petitioners and their family members. Thus, this is a fit case where extraordinary or inherent powers of the High Court for quashing the first information report and the proceedings arising therefrom, ought to be exercised.
19. Consequently, this petition under section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure is allowed. The first information report no.249/2014 registered against the petitioners/accused persons Mohit Jain, Prakash Jain, Anita Jain and Harshit Jain by P.S. Mahila Thana, Bhopal on 11.11.2014 and proceedings arising therefrom in RT No.12659/2014 pending before the Court of Judicial Magistrate First Class, Bhopal, are quashed
(C V SIRPURKAR)