THE HIGH COURT OF MADHYA PRADESH
The State of Madhya Pradesh Anr.
Shri Ashish Gupta, learned counsel for the applicant.
Shri Vishal Sannotia, learned Public Prosecutor for the respondent No.1 / State.
None for the respondent No.2, though served.
(16/05/2018) This petition under Section 482 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (for short ‘The Code’), has been preferred for quashment of First Information Report in crime No.116/2017, Police Station- Kotwalli, District Dhar, registered against the applicants for offence under Sections 498-A, 506 read with Section 34 of IPC and Section 3 4 of Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961, as also the charge-sheet and consequential proceedings.
02. The relevant facts in nutshell, for the disposal of the case, are that marriage of the applicant No.1-Tarun was solemnized with respondent No.2/complainant-Ritu on 12/05/2013 as per Hindu rituals and customs. Applicants No.2 3 are the mother-in-law and father-in- law of respondent No.2/complainant-Ritu. After marriage, respondent No.2 started living with her husband at Dhar. On 03/03/2017, respondent No.2 made a written complaint against the applicants alleging that her father has spent Rs.5.00 lakhs in the marriage. For six months she was kept happily in her matrimonial house and thereafter applicants started demanding Rs.5.00 lakhs from her as dowry. When the aforesaid demand was not fulfilled, the complainant was harrassed mentally and physically by the applicants. Thereafter, she went to her parental house and since last two years, she has been living with her parents. On the basis of the aforesaid complaint, an F.I.R bearing crime No.116/2017 at Police Station Kotwalli, District Dhar, was registered against the applicants for offence under Sections 498-A, 506 read with Section 34 of IPC and Section 3 4 of Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961. On completion of investigation, charge-sheet has been filed.
03. Learned counsel for the applicants has submitted that after the marriage, the respondent No.2/complainant resided with the applicants till 16/12/2014. It is further submitted that the complainant does not want to live in Dhar and she wanted to live in a bigger city like Indore or Bhopal. Applicant No.1 is running a dental clinic at Dhar and he has also the responsibility of his parents, therefore, he refused to shift his base to bigger city. When the aforesaid demand was not fulfilled by applicant No.1, then she started harassing the applicants by making false allegations against them. After leaving the house of the applicants, respondent No.2/complainant made a complaint against applicants at Mahila Thana, Bhopal. However, after due conciliation the complaint so filed by the respondent No.2 was settled by both the parties, by executing a written agreement on 01/11/2016, in which it was categorically stated that both the parties shall file a joint petition before the competent Court to seek divorce by way of mutual consent. Later on applicant No.1 filed a suit of divorce against the respondent No.2/complainant under Section 13(1)(a) of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 before the Principal Judge, Family Court, Dhar. The Family Court issued notice to the respondent No.2, which was served on her on 05/12/2016 and after that as a counter blast she has lodged a false report against the applicants regarding demand of dowry and harassment. After service of notice, the respondent No.2 did not appear before the family Court, hence an ex parte decree of divorce was passed on 20/03/2017 in favour of applicant No.1.
04. Learned counsel for the applicants also submitted that the alleged F.I.R has been lodged against the applicants after an in-ordinate delay and for the same, respondent No.2/complainant has come up with a fragile excuses. Only omnibus allegations have been made against the applicants in the complaint and the investigating agency has not recorded the statement of any independent witnesses. It is contended that the prosecution has been launched against the applicants with malafide intention and it is a misuse of criminal justice system. Therefore, it is a fit case for interference under Section 482 of Cr.P.C.
05. On the other hand learned Public Prosecutor has supported the prosecution on the ground that prima-facie allegations leveled against the applicants are made out, therefore, this application deserves to be dismissed.
06. I have considered rival contentions raised on behalf of the parties and perused the documents placed on record along with the present application.
07. The parameters on which the indulgence can be shown for exercising powers available under Section 482 of ‘the Code’ with respect to matrimonial matters have been laid down by the Apex Court in the case of Geeta Mehrotra vs State of U.P. (2012) 10 SCC 741 in the following manner :
“20. Coming to the facts of this case, when the contents of the FIR is perused, it is apparent that there are no allegations against Kumari Geeta Mehrotra and Ramji Mehrotra except casual reference of their names who have been included in the FIR but mere casual reference of the names of the family members in a matrimonial dispute without allegation of active involvement in the matter would not justify taking cognizance against them overlooking the fact borne out of experience that there is a tendency to involve the entire family members of the household in the domestic quarrel taking place in a matrimonial dispute specially if it happens soon after the wedding.
21. It would be relevant at this stage to take note of an apt observation of this Court recorded in the matter of G.V. Rao vs. L.H.V. Prasad Ors. reported in (2000) 3 SCC 693 wherein also in a matrimonial dispute, this Court had held that the High Court should have quashed the complaint arising out of a matrimonial dispute wherein all family members had been roped into the matrimonial litigation which was quashed and set aside. Their Lordships observed therein with which we entirely agree that: (SCC P.698, para
12) “12. there has been an outburst of matrimonial dispute in recent times. Marriage is a sacred ceremony, main purpose of which is to enable the young couple to settle down in life and live peacefully. But little matrimonial skirmishes suddenly erupt which often assume serious proportions resulting in heinous crimes in which elders of the family are also involved with the result that those who could have counselled and brought about rapprochement are rendered helpless on their being arrayed as accused in the criminal case. There are many reasons which need not be mentioned here for not encouraging matrimonial litigation so that the parties may ponder over their defaults and terminate the disputes amicably by mutual agreement instead of fighting it out in a court of law where it takes years and years to conclude and in that process the parties lose their “young” days in chasing their cases in different courts.”
The view taken by the judges in this matter was that the courts would not encourage such disputes.”
08. In another judicial pronouncement by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Ramesh Rajagopal v. Devi Polymers (P) Ltd., (2016) 6 SCC 310, wherein the Hon’ble Court referred to the earlier decision, observed in the following manner :-
“In Madhavrao Jiwajirao Scindia and Ors. v. Sambhajirao Chandrojirao Angre and Ors., reported in (1988) 1 SCC 692, this Court observed as follows:-
“7. The legal position is well settled that when a prosecution at 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 utilised for any oblique purpose and where in the opinion of the court chances of an ultimate conviction are 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.”
09. In the context of law laid down by the Hon’ble Apex Court, the plain reading of the FIR dated 03/03/2017 filed by the respondent No.2 shows that the allegations relating to commission of offence punishable under Section 498-A of IPC and Sections 3 4 of Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 are vague and bereft of details as to the place and time of the incident, it also does not refer to any specific act of the applicants. According to the contents of F.I.R, the respondent No.2 was subjected to cruelty due to non-fulfillment of demand of Rs.5.00 lakhs as dowry by the applicants, however, it is undisputed that the respondent No.2 is living separately since year 2015 and hence there is no question of any harassment by the applicants as alleged by her as the relationship having got a strained, ever since December 2014. It is pertinent to note that respondent No.2 has also filed complaint against applicant no.1 in Mahila Thana, Bhopal and after conciliation, she agreed to seek divorce from applicant No.1, therefore, it is difficult to believe that there is still a demand of dowry on 03/03/2017 coupled with the criminal intimidation.
10. The applicant No.1 filed a suit of divorce against respondent No.2/complainant in Family Court, Dhar in which an ex- parte divorce decree has been passed vide order dated 21/03/2017.
After receiving the notice of the aforesaid suit respondent No.2 has filed an application under Section 12 of Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 against applicant No.1 on 03/03/2017 and on the same day, she also lodged F.I.R for offence punishable under Section 498A, 506 of IPC and Section 3 4 of Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961, against the applicant at police station Kotwali, District Dhar, which clearly indicates that as a counter blast of divorce petition filed by the applicant No.1 against respondent No.2, she has lodged the aforesaid F.I.R against the applicants.
11. On the basis of the aforesaid discussion, it would be evident that veiled object behind the lame prosecution is apparently to harass the appellants, therefore, to secure the ends of justice and for preventing abuse of the process of criminal Court, it is a fit case in which the inherent powers of this Court under Section 482 of ‘the Code’ may be exercised.
12. Consequently, the application filed by the applicants, under Section 482 of ‘the Code’ is hereby allowed and the First Information Report bearing crime No.116/2017, registered at Police Station- Kotwali, Dhar, against the applicants for offences under Section 498-A, 506 read with Section 34 of IPC and Sections 3 4 of Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 as also the charge-sheet and all the consequential proceedings flowing out of the said F.I.R stands quashed.
Certified copy as per Rules.
(S. K. AWASTHI) JUDGE sumathi Digitally signed by Sumati Jagadeesan Date: 2018.05.16 18:05:35 +05’30’