complaint filed only to cause harassment to husband & his family. it is gross misuse of 498A

Allahabad High Court
Lalit Bhatia Son Of Sri J.N. … vs State Of Uttar Pradesh And Sri … on 27 May, 2005
Author: P Srivastava
Bench: P Srivastava
JUDGMENT Poonam Srivastava, J.

  1. Heard Sri Sharad Malviya, learned counsel for the applicants, Sri Akhilesh Srivastava and Sri Dharmendra Singhal, Advocates, for the contesting opposite party and learned A.G.A. for the State.
  2. This application under Section 482 Cr.P.C. has been filed invoking inherent powers for quashing the complaint case No. 27 of 2000-Pritam Dass v. Lalit Bhatia and Ors., pending before the Judicial Magistrate-II, Aligarh.

  3. The facts giving rise to the dispute is that Lalit Bhatia, applicant No. 1 was married with Smt. Mamta Rani, daughter of opposite party No. 2 on 17.5.1989 according to Hindu Rites. The wife came to her marital house and has performed all her marital obligations. One son Karan Bhatia was born in the year 1991 from the wedlock of applicant No. 1 and Smt. Mamta Rani. Till 31.8.1997 the husband and wife lived happily with a son born out from their wedlock. The applicant Lalit Bhatia was running a factory of Cosmetics at Delhi which was dang good business till the year 1995 but thereafter the factory suffered huge loss, as a consequence, the business was shut down. At this point of time on account of interference by parents and other family members, relations between Smt. Mamta Rani and applicant No. 1 became sour and she left her matrimonial house on 27.8.1997 Thereafter it is submitted on behalf of the applicants that continuous efforts were made on the part of the applicants to bring back Smt. Mamta Rani to her marital home. On one or two occasions she did come back but just for a short period and thereafter she left her in-laws house on one pretext or the other. The other side of the story is that after closer of the factory, the in-laws started making demand for dowry i.e. after 8 years of marriage and since the complainant was unable to fulfill the demand of Rs. one lac, it led to the institution of the criminal proceedings. The applicants had already given an information to the Station House Officer, Police Station Sarswati Vihar, Delhi on 1.9.1997 informing threats extended to the applicants by father i.e. opposite party No. 2 and his daughter Smt. Mamta Rani that they will ensure that the entire family members are implicated in criminal cases. This information is annexed as Annexure-1 to the affidavit. A notice sent by Smt. Mamta Rani to the applicant No. 1 was received on 18.1.1998 and he was called upon to take her back otherwise necessary consequences will ensue. Proceedings for divorce was initiated on 31.3.1998 and divorce petition No. 257 of 1998 was instituted in the court of Civil Judge (Senior Division), Aligarh, under Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act. A copy of the divorce petition has been annexed as Annexure-2 to the affidavit, to demonstrate that false and frivolous allegations were levelled against all the family members of the applicants to make out a ground for divorce. Finally, the instant criminal complaint was filed by the opposite party No. 2 on 5.5.1998, a copy of which has been annexed as Annexure-3 to the affidavit. The Statements under Sections 200 and 202 Cr.P.C. were recorded, which are also part of the record as Annexures-4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 to the affidavit. Learned Judicial Magistrate-II, Aligarh summoned the applicants under Sections 498A and 506 I.P.C. vide order dated 4.7.1998. The applicants appeared before the Judicial Magistrate and filed a review petition for reviewing the summoning order, which was also rejected. So far the order dated 7.4.2000 is concerned, there is no illegality in the said order, since the Criminal Procedure Code do not contemplate any power to review the summoning order. In the present application, I am only concerned with the original summoning order dated 4.7.1998 and also the prayer for quashing of the complaint. An application for maintenance was also moved under Section 125 Cr.P.C. by Smt. Mamta Rani which was dismissed in default. Counter affidavit has been filed on behalf of the contesting opposite party denying all the averments made in the affidavit filed in support of this application. Rejoinder affidavit has also been filed. Subsequently a supplementary affidavit has been filed on behalf of the applicants with a view to bring on record the original summoning order, which could not be annexed with the application and also the final judgment and decree dated 23.3,2002 passed by the 1st Additional Civil Judge (Senior Division), Aligarh in Matrimonial Petition No. 257 of 1998. It has been argued on behalf of the applicants that the complaint filed under Sections 498A, 323, 504, 506 I.P.C. read with Section 3/4 Dowry Prohibition Act is only a frivolous complaint with a view to cause harassment to the applicants and though it has been stated in the complaint that the wife was beaten by in-laws, there is no injury report on record as no injuries were examined, which goes to show falsity of the entire allegations. It has also been argued that the filing of the complaint is only a result to the threat extended earlier regarding which, information was given to the police by the mother-in-law Smt. Kanta Bhatia (applicant No. 3) on 1.9.1997. It has also been argued that prior to the lodging of the complaint, the divorce petition was instituted on the ground of cruelty on 31.3.1998 i.e. 2 1/2 months before the criminal complaint was filed. Counsel for the applicants has also placed the findings recorded by the learned 1st Additional Civil Judge (Senior Division), Aligarh in his judgment dated 23.3.2002 in the divorce petition. The part of the judgment, on which emphasis has been laid by counsel for the applicants, is that the complainant Pritam Dass, opposite party No. 2 was examined as PW-2 in the divorce petition and he has admitted that at no point of time any dowry was demanded directly from him, he came to know about it only through his daughter Smt. Mamta Rani. He has further admitted in his statement that there was no demand of dowry either at the time of wedding or before the wedding whatever gifts were given in the marriage, was the sweet will of the family members of the bride. The divorce petition, which was instituted by the wife Smt. Mamta Rani, was dismissed holding that in fact she was never subjected to any cruelty, on the contrary, the husband was subjected to cruelty at the hands of the wife and in the circumstances, the divorce petition was dismissed/Notices were issued in this application to the opposite party No. 2 and an interim order was granted. The applicants were directed to pay compensation of Rs. 2,000/- per month through a bank draft to Smt. Mamta Rani. Nothing has come in the counter affidavit that the payment in pursuance to the order dated 8.1.2003 is not being made. It is, therefore, presumed that since the interim order is continuing, the condition imposed is being complied with till date.

  4. After hearing the counsel for the respective parties, I proceed to examine whether the complaint filed against the applicants can be quashed in exercise of inherent powers or not. The object of introducing Section 498A in the Indian Penal Code was to prevent a woman from being tortured or harassed by her husband or by her relatives with a view to extract dowry but at the same time it is relevant to examine that what is the meaning of cruelty against a married woman by the husband or his relatives to attract the offence and bring the family members and the husband within the purview of Section 498A and the consequent punishment. In the case of Sarla Prabhakar Vaghmare v. State of Maharashtra, 1990 Criminal Law Journal, 407, it has been held that in any event, the willful act or conduct ought to be a proximate cause in order to bring home the charge under Section 498A I.P.C., an event some times back can not be termed to be a factum, taken note in the matter of charge under Section 498A I.P.C. Legislative intend is clear enough to indicate any particular reference to Explanation (b) that there shall have to be a series of act in order to be harassment within the meaning of the said Explanation. In the present case, the complaint has been lodged on 5.5.1998 but in paragraph 3 of the complaint without mentioning any date, the allegation of dowry has been levelled against the applicants. In paragraph 6 again the allegation is that on 24.4.1998, the applicants came to his house and made demand of Rs. one lac from his family members. The complainant has stated in the complaint that the threat and demand was extended to him on the date when the family members have visited his house to take back their daughter-in-law. The same allegations have been repeated in the statements under Sections 200 and 202 Cr.P.C. but there is no injury report on record Besides the fact, the allegation in the divorce petition, which has been filed as Annexure-2 to the affidavit, spells out an entire different story. The judgment, which has been brought on record by means of supplementary affidavit in the divorce petition contains the evidence of the complainant, which was examined as PW-2 in the divorce proceeding. The denial before the divorce court was given on oath and court has come to a conclusion that there was no demand of dowry and wife was never subjected to any kind of harassment for demand of dowry. In view of the various categories laid down in the case of State of Haryana and Ors. v. Chaudhary Bhutan Lal 1991 (28) A.C.C., 111 (S.C.), the Apex Court has held that in the event, on the basis of admitted documents available on record, if the court prima facie comes to a conclusion that there are no chances of conviction, first information report, charge sheet or complaint as the case may be, can be quashed. In the case of R.P. Kapoor v. State of Punjab A.I.R. 1960 S.C. page 866. the Apex Court had carved out three specific categories where the criminal proceedings could be quashed. The three categories are enumerated below:-

(i) Where it manifestly appears that there is a legal bar against the institution or continuance of the criminal proceeding in respect of the offence alleged Absence of the requisite sanction may, for instance, furnish cases under this category.

(ii) Where the allegations in the First Information Report of the complaint, even if they are taken at their face value and accepted in their entirety, do not constitute the offence alleged; in such cases no question of appreciating evidence arises; it is a matter merely of looking at the complaint or the First Information Report to decide whether the offence alleged is disclosed or not.

(iii) Where the allegations made against the accused person do constitute an offence alleged but there is either no legal evidence adduced in support of the case or the evidence adduced clearly or manifestly fails to prove the charge.

  1. The facts and the evidence in the instant case is clearly covered under the third category’. There is no question of any enquiry or recording any evidence on the face of clear admission of the complaint in the divorce case.

  2. I have gone through the entire records as well as supplementary affidavit and I feel that this is one of those cases in which the complaint has been filed only with a view to cause harassment to the husband and his family members. In fact it is gross misuse of the provisions of Section 498A I.P.C. which certainly pricks the judicial conscience and can not be left to stand. In the circumstances, I am in agreement with the argument advanced by counsel for the applicants that the continuation of the proceedings on the basis of complaint impugned in this application, is nothing short of an abuse of the process of the court and is liable to be quashed in exercise of inherent powers. I therefore, come to a conclusion that the complaint instituted by the opposite party No. 2 is frivolous one and is quashed The interim order directing for payment of Rs. 2000/- to Smt. Mamta Rani by the applicants is also discharged. The application is accordingly, allowed.

One thought on “complaint filed only to cause harassment to husband & his family. it is gross misuse of 498A

  1. Pingback: Compendium of FALSE & ABSURD 498A cases! | my2centsworth

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