Family members named in matrimonial disputes without allegations of active involvement cannot be tried

IN THE HIGH COURT OF KARNATAKA AT BENGALURU

DATED THIS THE 23RD DAY OF OCTOBER, 2020
BEFORE
THE HON’BLE MR.JUSTICE ASHOK G. NIJAGANNAVAR
CRIMINAL PETITION NO.4995 OF 2015

BETWEEN:

1. SMT.MEENA R POOJARY,
W/O RAJU K POOJARY,
AGED ABOUT 59 YEARS,
R/AT SHANTHINAGAR,MALPE ROAD,
KALLIANPURA – SANTHEKATTE,
UDUPI TALUK – 574201.

2. MRS.SUDHA A POOJARY,
W/O ASHOK N POOJARY,MAJOR,
SALPHA SANITARY BUILDING,
BALAIPADE, KINNIMULKY,
UDUPI TALUK – 574201.

3. MR.SATHYAJITH SUVARNA,S/O,MAJOR,
SALPHA SANITARY BUILDING,BALAIPADE, KINNIMULKY,
UDUPI TALUK – 574201. …PETITIONERS
(BY SRI CHANDRANATH ARIGA K, ADVOCATE)

AND:

1. STATE OF KARNATAKA BY
UDUPI POLICE STATION,
REP. BY THE STATE PUBLIC

PROSECUTOR,
HIGH COURT BUILDING,
BANGALORE – 560 001.
2. SMT.BHUMIKA S POOJARY,
W/O SUDHIER R POOJARY,
AGED ABOUT 36 YEARS,
R/AT SRI SAI DURGA HOUSE,
SHASITHOTA MALPE,KODAVOOR VILLAGE,
UDUPI TALUK – 574201. …RESPONDENTS
(BY SMT.RASHMI JADHAV, HCGP FOR R1, SRI N SRINIVAS, ADVOCATE FOR R2)
**

THIS CRIMINAL PETITION IS FILED UNDER SECTION 482 Cr.P.C PRAYING TO QUASH THE PROCEEDINGS IN C.C.NO.1075/2014 ON THE FILE OF THE A.C.J.M (JR.DN) AND J.M.F.C., UDUPI REGISTERED BY THE 1ST RESPONDENT FOR THE OFFENCE P/U/S 384, 498(A), 504, 506 R/W 34 OF IPC AND SECTION 3 AND 4 OF D.P.ACT AS AGAINST THE PETITIONERS.

THIS PETITION HAVING BEEN HEARD THROUGH VIDEO CONFERENCE/PHYSICAL HEARING AND RESERVED FOR ORDERS, COMING ON FOR PRONOUNCEMENT OF ORDER, THIS DAY, THE COURT PRONOUNCED THE FOLLOWING:

ORDER

This petition is filed by accused Nos.3, 4 and 5 to quash the proceedings in C.C.No.1075/2014 on the file of Addl. Civil Judge (Jr.Dn.) and JMFC, Udupi, registered for the offence punishable under Sections 384, 498A, 504, 506 read with 34 of IPC and Sections 3 and 4 of Dowry Prohibition Act.

2. On the private complaint filed by respondent No.2-Smt.Bhumika S.Poojary, learned Magistrate has taken cognizance and has issued summons. The case has been registered as C.C.No.1075/2014.

3. The facts briefly stated in the private complaint are that the marriage of respondent No.2- complainant was performed with accused No.1 on 13.04.2008 at Udupi. Accused No.2 is the father-inlaw, accused No.3 is the mother-in-law, accused No.4 is the sister-in-law, accused No.5 is the brother-in-law of the complainant. After marriage, the complainant has been residing in the matrimonial house with her husband-accused No.1 and her in-laws. Ever since the date of marriage, accused No.1 has been harassing, humiliating and teasing the complainant without any reason and he has been demanding her to bring huge amount of money from time to time. Accused Nos.2 to 5 are supporting accused No.1 in his illegal acts. All accused have colluded and extracted more than 450 grams of gold ornaments from the complainant. At one instance, accused No.1 had forcibly taken the gold ornaments of the complainant and has kept in the custody of accused No.4. Accused No.1 was assaulting the complainant, even sometimes ousted her from matrimonial house at the instigation of accused Nos.2 to 5. Accused No.1 has been demanding to bring huge amount and he is coming to the house after midnight and quarrel with the complainant. On 15.12.2013 at 6:00 p.m. the complainant and her parents asked accused No.1 to return her gold ornaments, at that time all accused persons have abused the complainant and her parents in filthy language and held out threat of dire consequences and also threatened that the complainant will be murdered if she lodges a complaint against them. Thus, all the accused have committed the offence punishable under Sections 384, 385, 498A, 506(2) read with 34 of IPC.

4. Heard learned counsel for the petitioners and respondent No.2-complainant.

5. Learned counsel for the petitioners would contend that there are no specific allegations in the complaint against these petitioners. Even the cause of action is not disclosed. The petitioner Nos.1 and 3 are in Australia. There is a delay in filing the complaint. Learned Magistrate has failed to consider the facts of the FIR and the complaint averments and see whether the facts stated therein make out any prima-facie case against these petitioners and whether there was at all any material to constitute an offence against the petitioners. The private complaint was filed against all the family members with a malafide intention to settle her scores. Thus, the proceedings initiated against these petitioners are liable to be quashed. In support of the said contentions, learned counsel for the petitioners has relied on the following decisions:

i. (2012) 10 SCC 741 in the case of Geeta Mehrotra and another vs. State of Uttar Pradesh and another;

ii. (2005) 3 SCC 507 in the case of Ramesh and others vs. State of T.N.

iii. (2000) 3 SCC 693 in the case of G.V.Rao vs. L.H.V Prasad and others.

6. Per contra, learned counsel for respondent No.2-complainant submitted that there are specific allegations against these petitioners that they have instigated accused No.1 to commit the illegal acts to harass the complainant to get the dowry and gold ornaments. The complainant has tolerated their harassment for several years, thereafter a private complaint has been filed.

7. The facts of the private complaint and FIR are required to be proved before the trial Court. It is necessary to consider whether the allegations made in the private complaint attract the offence under Section 498A and other offences alleged against them. In a decision reported in 2000(3) SCC 693 in the case of G.V.Rao vs. L.H.V Prasad and others, the Hon’ble Supreme Court in paragraph No.12 has held as under:

“12. There has been an outburst of
matrimonial disputes in recent times. The
marriage is a sacred ceremony, the 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 commission of
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 other reasons which
need not be mentioned here for not
encouraging matrimonial litigation so that the
parties may ponder over their defaults and
terminate their 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.”

8. The first and foremost contention of the learned counsel for the petitioners is that no prima-facie case was made out against the petitioners for initiating the proceedings under the Dowry Prohibition Act and other provisions of Indian Penal Code.

9. Petitioner No.1 is the mother-in-law, petitioner No.2 is the sister-in-law and petitioner No.3 is the brother-in-law of the complainant. It is alleged in the complaint that these petitioners have instigated accused No.1 to demand dowry from the complainant. During the course of arguments, learned counsel for the petitioners submitted that petitioner No.3 is in Australia and petitioner No.1 is also residing with him, as such, there is no occasion for them to cause any harassment to the complainant.

10. When the contents of the FIR and complaint are perused, it is apparent that there are no specific allegations that these petitioners have directly caused harassment to the complainant to get dowry and gold ornaments. Almost all allegations are against the accused No.1 viz., the husband of the complainant. Thus, 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 of involve the entire family members of the household in the domestic quarrel taking place in the matrimonial dispute as observed in the decision of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Geeta Mehrotra and another vs. State of Uttar Pradesh and another reported in (2012) 10 SCC 741.

11. In the present case, according to the complainant, the marriage has taken place in the year 2008. Thereafter, the complaint is filed in the year 2014 i.e., after the lapse of six years of marriage. In the private complaint, it is stated that on 15.12.2013, the complainant and her parents have gone to the house of the petitioners for seeking return of her gold ornaments, at that time, all the petitioners have abused the complainant and her parents in filthy language and also caused threat, whereas the private complaint is filed on 06.01.2014, there is a delay of more than three weeks.

12. In a decision reported in AIR 2003 SC 1386 in the case of B.S.Joshi and others vs. State of Haryana and another, the Hon’ble Supreme Court has observed in paragraph No.14 as under:

“14. There is no doubt that the object of
introducing Chapter XX-A containing Section
498A in the Indian Penal Code was to prevent
the torture to a woman by her husband or by
relatives of her husband. Section 498A was
added with a view to punishing a husband
and his relatives who harass or torture the
wife to coerce her or her relatives to satisfy
unlawful demands of dowry. The hypertechnical view would be counter productive
and would act against interests of women
and against the object for which this provision
was added. There is every likelihood that
non-exercise of inherent power to quash the
proceedings to meet the ends of justice would
prevent women from settling earlier. That is
not the object of Chapter XXA of Indian Penal
Code.”

13. The allegations in this case are mainly against accused No.1. These petitioners are also involved by making general allegations without mentioning even a single incident against them. There are no specific dates on which these petitioners had personally caused harassment to the complainant. The submission made by the learned counsel for the petitioners that the petitioner Nos.1 and 3 are residing in Australia has not been denied. Thus, the involvement of all these petitioners in the whole incident appears to be a casual inclusion of their names. Hence, it cannot be overlooked that it would be a total abuse of process of law if the proceedings are allowed to be continued as against these petitioners.

14. In view of the above discussion, this Court is of the view that the criminal proceedings shall have to be quashed in exercise of inherent powers insofar as these petitioners are concerned. Accordingly, this Court proceed to pass the following:

ORDER

i. Petition is allowed.

ii. Consequently, the proceedings in C.C.No.1075/2014 on the file of Addl. Civil Judge (Jr.Dn.) and JMFC, Udupi, registered for the offence punishable under Sections 384, 498A, 504, 506 read with 34 of IPC and Sections 3 and 4 of Dowry Prohibition Act, as against the petitioners herein are quashed. The proceedings shall continue against accused No.1.

Sd/-
JUDGE
BSR

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *