Bombay High Court Shri Y. Kunjappan-vs-Chitralekha Tarachand Anandi on 4 August, 2011
Bench: B.R. Gavai
IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE OF BOMBAY
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION.
Criminal Writ Petition No. 1206 of 2009
Criminal Application No. 423 of 2009
Criminal Writ Petition No. 1206 of 2009
Shri Y. Kunjappan
2. Shri Shibu Kunju
Age 43 years, unemployed
Last address Sophia Villa
1. Chitralekha Tarachand Anandi
Adult, occupation Business
c/o. Jatin Rengro Harne
1/8,9 Yasmin Ansari Chawl,
near 34-E-15, Ration Shop,
Parsiwadi, Ghatkopar (W),
Mumbai 400 086.
2. The State of Maharashtra
served through the
Government Pleader, Govt. of
3. Shri D.P. Zende, I.O. Sub-Inspector
of Police, Dahisar (E) Police Station,
Mumbai 68, Presently attatched to
MAROL Camp, Marol Camp, Mumbai. ….Respondents
Mr. Robert C. Sequeira for the petitioner.
Ms. Gayatri Singh for respondent no.1.
Mr. S.J. Panicker for respondent no. 3.
Mr. D.R. More-APP for the State.
CORAM: B.R. GAVAI, J.
4th August, 2011
Though in this writ petition, the petitioner has prayed for various reliefs, the petitioner has restricted the claim in the writ petition for quashing the orders passed by the learned JMFC, 49th Court, Vikhroli in Case No. 231/N-2007 and the order passed by the learned Session Judge dated 4th July, 2008 passed in Criminal Appeal No. 299/2008 and for quashing and setting aside the FIR No. 170/2007 registered with Borivli Police Station and consequent CC No. 1326/PW/2009 pending before the 26th Court, Borivali, Mumbai.
2. It was the contention of the respondent no.1 herein that she got acquainted with the present petitioner which turned out into love affair and they accordingly married on 22nd May, 1999. Even according to respondent no.1 she is a Hindu whereas the petitioner is Malyali Christian. According to her the marriage was solemnized in Hindu temple according to Hindu Rites and the marriage was also registered on the same day. It was the case of the respondent that on or about 25th May, 1989, the petitioner left the respondent at her mother’s home and had told her that he would later on pick her up. According to respondent, the petitioner did not come to pick her and she tried to contact the petitioner but she could not trace him. However, on 29th May, 1989 she came to know that the petitioner filed Suit No. 3957/1989 alleging that the marriage was performed by playing fraud. Contending that the petitioner may again try to marry, respondent no.1 filed MJ Petition No. A-996/1990 for a decree of restitution of conjugal rights. An interim prayer for restraining the present petitioner from performing another marriage was also made in the said 3 wp1206.09.sxw
petition. The said proceedings were contested by the petitioner denying any such marriage between the petitioner and the respondent no.1. The detailed written-statement has been filed by the petitioner in the said proceedings. It was sought to be contended by the petitioner in the said proceedings that she was previously married to one Ghanshyamdas.
3. The learned Judge of the Family Court on the basis of the evidence that was led before it framed the following issues for determination:-
1) Does the petitioner prove that she contracted
a valid marriage with the respondent on No. 22.5.1989 under the Hindu
2) Does the petitioner prove tht she
lived and co-habited with the
respondent thereafter as the No. wife of the respondent?
3) Does the petitioner prove that she
is entitled for maintenance from No. the respondent, and if so, at what
4) Does the petitioner prove that she No. is entitled for a decree for restitution
of conjugal rights as prayed for?
5) What order? As per final order.
4. The learned Judge of the Family Court vide Judgment and order dated 6th March, 1995 dismissed the petition filed by the respondent no.1. Being aggrieved thereby she approached this Court by way of Family Court appeal No. 72/1996. The same was also dismissed on 26 th June, 1997. After the 4 wp1206.09.sxw
period of more than a decade the proceedings under Section 12 of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (hereinafter referred to as Domestic Violence Act) came to be filed by the respondent no.1 against the petitioner and his father before the learned Metropolitan Magistrate at Vikhroli, Mumbai being Case No. 231/N/2007. In the said case the respondent no.1 has narrated about her marriage with the petitioner. She has stated that their marriage was opposed by the petitioner’s family members. She stayed at the house of the petitioner for about 3-4 months and in that period she was subjected to untold physical, mental and emotional harassment at the hands of her in-laws. She further states that thereafter her in-laws were behaving with her properly and told her that she was like a daughter to them and that they are willing to accept her as daughter-in-law. They, however, told that her presence will come in the way of marriage of their daughter and, therefore, desired that the respondent no.1 should go back to her maternal home. They assured that after their daughter got married, they will take her back to her rightful home. It is the contention of the respondent no.1that, however, subsequently the parents of the petitioner changed their stand. She further states that she was shocked to receive the summons in SC Suit No. 3957/1989 wherein the petitioner had denied his marriage to her. There is a reference in the complaint filed by the respondent no.1 regarding her petition for restoration of conjugal rights and its rejection but, however, inasmuch as she states that the petition filed by her was dismissed as not maintainable. Respondent No.1 has prayed for various reliefs in the said petition, including monetary relief and provision for her accommodation.
5. The learned Magistrate vide order dated 28th February, 2008 directed notice to be issued to the concerned Protection Officer directing him to file his report. However, vide order dated 8th April, 2008 the learned Magistrate had directed police to help the applicant (respondent no.1 herein) to reside in the 5 wp1206.09.sxw
house of her husband. Being aggrieved thereby petitioner’s father approached the learned Session Judge by way of Appeal No. 299/2008. The learned Session Judge vide the order dated 4th July, 2008 dismissed the appeal.
6. In the meantime, the respondent no.1 herein lodged the complaint with the police authorities on 14th May, 2008 for the offence punishable under Section 498-A, 420, 494 read with Section 34 of the IPC. In addition to the allegation made by her in the complaint under Domestic Violence Act, she has added another allegation in the said FIR. She has stated that when in pursuance to the order dated 8th April, 2008 she went to reside in the house of her father-in-law after breaking open the lock, she came across one photo album from which she came to know that the petitioner had married, since it was written on the Album “Shiboo weds Mary 29/1/2009”. After the investigation the chargesheet is also filed on the said FIR.
7. In this background the petitioner has approached this Court. Shri Sequoira, learned Counsel appearing on behalf of the petitioner submits that when the learned Family Court, specifically on the basis of the evidence led before it has held that there was no valid marriage between the petitioner and the respondent no.1 and when the said finding was upheld by the Division Bench of this Court, the proceedings under the Domestic Violence Act as well as the FIR and consequent criminal proceedings under Section 498 A and 494 of the IPC are totally unsustainable in law. He submits that even the perusal of the complaint would reveal that the Complainant-respondent no.1 has taken contradictory and inconsistent stand. He further submits that in any case the house in respect of which the order has been passed by the learned Magistrate belongs to the petitioner’s father (since deceased) and as such the respondent no.1 was not entitled to any relief in respect thereof under the provisions of Domestic Violence Act. The learned Counsel submits that the entire 6 wp1206.09.sxw
proceedings are nothing but an abuse of process of law and, therefore, liable to be quashed and set aside.
8. Ms. Gayatri Singh, learned Counsel appearing on behalf of respondent on the contrary submits that the issue before the Family Court in the petition filed by the respondent no.1 was only as to whether the petitioner and respondent were married in accordance with Hindu Marriage Law. She submits that there is a marriage registration certificate certifying the marriage between the petitioner and the respondent no.1 and as such the proceedings under the Domestic Violence Act as well as under Section 498 A of the Criminal Procedure Code are very much tenable. Learned Counsel further submits that the Small Causes Suit No. 3957/1989 filed by the present petitioner has been dismissed in default and therefore the claim of the petitioner that marriage between him and respondent no.1 was not a valid marriage is unsustainable. She submits that in view of the marriage certificate no error could be found with either the initiation of proceedings under the Domestic Violence Act or the registration of FIR under Section 494-A of the IPC. Ms. Gayatri Singh learned Counsel further submits that in the alternative even if it is found that the petitioner and respondent no.1 are not husband and wife even then till admittedly as there was an existing domestic relationship between the petitioner and the respondent no.1, the respondent no.1 is entitled to protection under the Domestic Violence Act.
9. The learned Judge of the Family Court in its Judgment and order in MJ Petition No. A-996/1990 has found thus:-
“For invoking the relief under the Hindu Marriage Act, the parties to the marriage are required to be Hindus. Section 2 of the Hindu Marriage Act is clear to the same effect. Sub-section (1) of Clause 7 wp1206.09.sxw
(c) of Section 2 reads that this Act appliese to any other person domiciled in the terroritiees to which this Act extends, who is not a Muslim, Christian, Parsi or Jew by religion, unless it is proved….. Thus, the provision of Hindu Marriage Act can be invoked only when the parties to the marriage are Hindus. As such, the very opening sentence of the petition itself dis entitles the petitioner to seek relief U/Sec.9 of the Hindu Marriage Act, when she has stated that the respondent is a Malayalee Christian. This averment is not countered by the respondent, except a general observation that there is no such thing as Malayalee Christian. As such, at the outset, I may observe that the petition is misconceived, in as much as, the petitioner cannot invoke the provision of the Hindu Marriage Act, since the respondent is stated to have been a Christian at the time of the alleged marriage on 22.5.1989. Admittedly, the marriage was not performed under the Special Marriage Act. In the cross- examination, para (13), the petitioner has categorically admitted that the respondent is a Christian by religion. As such, the validity of marriage in the manner sought is set at knot, that it is not legal and valid marriage. At the same time, the Hindu Marriage Act cannot come to the rescue of the petitioner. There is one more hurdle, the petitioner admitted that prior to the alleged marriage with the respondent, there was an agreement of marriage between the petitioner and one Ghanshyamdas, but that marriage was not performed. She, however, could not say that how her name came to be included in the ration card as the wife of the said Ghanshyamdas. She no doubt, stated not to have mentioned herself at anytime as the wife of the said Ghanshyamdas. The photograph displaying the parties garlanding each other after such garlanding, standing in the company of the relation of the petitioner and other joint photograph and even the registration of the said event of marriage, in my humble understanding do not validate the marriage, in view of the specific 8 wp1206.09.sxw
averment of the petitioner that the respondent is a Christian.”
10. It can thus clearly be seen that the learned Judge of the Family Court has held that since even according to the respondent no.1 she was a Hindu and the petitioner a Christian and since the marriage was not performed under the Special Marriage Act, it was not a legal and valid marriage. The learned Judge has also considered the contention of the petitioner regarding the photographs displaying the parties garlanding each other and the registration of said event of marriage. The learned Judge has specifically observed that in view of the specific averments of the respondent no.1 that since the petitioner is a Christian, the same could not have validated the marriage. The learned Judge has thereafter also commented upon the conduct of the respondent no.1. He has found that in one affidavit she has admitted to have mentioned that Ghanshyamdas was her first husband and that she was the widow. The learned Judge has further found that evidence of the priest Narendrakumar Sharma also could not establish that necessary rituals of valid marriage were performed. It has been categorically found that in view of the different religions between the parties merely exchange of garlanding and chanting of mantras was not sufficient enough to establish the marriage. There is another discussion regarding the alleged engagement, refusal of marriage between the respondent no.1 and Ghanshyamdas. The learned Judge has considered the evidence of all the witnesses which were examined on behalf of the respondent and found that the assertion of respondent no.1 that she was married was not at all sustainable. The Division Bench of this Court by an order dated 26th June, 1997 dismissed the Appeal.
11. It can thus be seen that the learned Judge of the Family Court vide order dated 6th March, 1995 has refused to believe the version of the respondent no.1 that there was a valid marriage between her and the petitioner and has 9 wp1206.09.sxw
dismissed her petition for restoration of conjugal rights. Same finding has been affirmed by the Division Bench of this Court vide the order dated 26th June, 1997. It can thus clearly be seen that there is specific finding that there is no valid marriage between the petitioner and the respondent no.1.
12. Insofar as the main attack on behalf of respondent no.1 that the petitioner’s suit for declaration of marriage as null and void being dismissed in default and in view of the marriage certificate, the marriage should be held to be valid in law is concerned, in my view the said submission is without substance. After the learned Family Court had held that there was no valid marriage between the petitioner and the respondent no.1 and the same finding being upheld by the Division Bench of this Court, there was no necessity for the petitioner to continue with the proceedings for declaration of nullity of marriage. Petitioner’s purpose stood served after the competent Court gave a finding that there was no valid marriage and the same was upheld by this Court.
13. Various cases have been cited by both the parties in respect of their rival submissions that the provisions of the Domestic Violence Act are not retrospective in nature on one hand and that they are prospective in nature on the other hand. However, in the facts of the present case I do not find it necessary to go into that aspect of the matter. Nodoubt that the provisions of the Domestic Violence Act are for the purpose of safeguarding the women from domestic violence. However, at the sametime the said provisions also cannot be permitted to be misused or abused. Perusal of the complaint filed by the respondent no.2 under the Domestic Violence Act would reveal that the allegations of the alleged domestic violence pertain to the period immediately occurring after the alleged marriage between the petitioner and the respondent no.1. Even according to the respondent no.1 the marriage was solemnized on 22nd May, 1989 and the alleged ill treatment which was meted out to her was 10 wp1206.09.sxw
within a period of 2-3 months when she is alleged to have resided at the house of parents of the petitioner. In the said complaint, the respondent no.1 has gone to the extent of making a misleading statement that the MJ Petition No. A-996/1990 was dismissed on the ground that it was not maintainable. As already discussed hereinabove the petition has been dismissed by an elaborate reasoned order holding that there was no valid marriage between the petitioner and the respondent no.1. I find that permitting the proceedings to be initiated for an alleged violence, after the period of 18 years from the said alleged violence, would be nothing less but an abuse of process of law. It appears that the learned Magistrate has totally overlooked the orders passed by the learned Family Court in MJ Petition No. A-996 of 1990 and the order passed by this Court in appeal in therefrom. The learned Appellate Court also has totally ignored this aspect. Rather than giving weightage to the judgment and decree passed by the Family Court and which is affirmed by this Court, the learned Appellate Court has relied on the photographs showing the petitioner and respondent no.1 with garlands and the certificate. The emphasis on the so called certificate of the marriage is also misplaced. Section 14 of the Bombay Registration of Marriages Act, 1953 specifically provides that the said Act shall not apply to the marriages contracted under the Special Marriage Act, Indian Christian Marriage Act or the Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act. Insofar as the marriages under the Hindu Act are concerned, nodoubt that the certificate would have a presumptive value. However, in view of the specific finding by a Competent Family Court that there was no valid marriage in accordance with Hindu law, which finding having been upheld by this Court, the said certificate would be of no assistance to the case of the respondent no.1.
14. Insofar as the FIR No. 170/2007 is concerned, the same would also reveal that the alleged ill treatment pertains to the period immediately after marriage on 25th May, 1989. The FIR is registered on 24th May, 2008. It can 11 wp1206.09.sxw
thus clearly be seen that the FIR is registered after 19 years of alleged marriage. The alleged ill treatment is also pertaining to the period of 2-3 months after marriage. The perusal of FIR would reveal that except general allegations regarding the ill treatment, no specific incidence of ill treatment either by the petitioner or his parents have been made in the said FIR. The same also appears to be nothing else but an abuse of process of law. As already held hereinabove there is a specific finding of competent Court that there was no valid marriage between the petitioner and respondent no.1 and the same is upheld by the Division Bench of this Court. As such the provisions of Section 494 of IPC cannot be attracted by any stretch of imagination. As already discussed hereinabove the allegations insofar as 498A and 420 are concerned, the same are also without any substance.
15. Though the petitioner has made certain allegations against the respondent no.3, who is a police officer I find that since the order was passed by the competent Court, respondent no. 3 was bound to act in accordance with the directions of the learned Magistrate. In that view of the matter, I do not find any substance insofar as the allegations against the respondent no.3 are concerned.
16. In the result the following order is passed.
(i) In the result the order dated 28th February 2008 passed by the learned J.M.F.C., 49th Court, Vikhroli, Mumbai and the order passed by the learned Sessions Judge dated 4th July 2008 passed in Criminal Appeal No. 299/2008 are quashed and set aside. The proceedings in Case No. 231/N/2007 are also quashed and set aside.
(ii) The F.I.R. No. 170/2007 registered with the Borivli Police Station and consequent C.C.No. 1326/PW/2009 pending before the 26th Court, Borivli, Mumbai are also quashed and set aside. 12 wp1206.09.sxw
(iii) Consequently, the respondent police authority is directed to return the passport of the petitioner within a period of eight weeks from today.
(B.R. GAVAI, J)