Friday, May 31, 2013

Magistrate can issue NBW on husband 4 non payment of maintenance under DVact. No need to start execution proceedings etc under Crpc... So in effect Husband may be under arrest threat VERY SOON after DV judgement !!

Summary :
  • Magistrate can directly issue NBW against husband for non payment of maintenance under DV act.
  • No need to first start execution proceedings or auction property to recover maintenance


Notes
  • Wife files DV and gets maintenance decreed
  • Husband has not paid maintenance. Probably unable to pay
  • Arrears adds up to Rs 56000
  • Meanwhile Husband appeals DV case but unable to get stay of maintenance in his favour
  • Magistrate issues NBW for non payment of maintenance
  • Husband goes on appeal. Argues that Magistrate has to follow criminal procedure , meaning start execution procedure first, attach property, bring it for auction and can only later issue NBW for unpaid portion of maintenance 
  • Husband quotes "...(5) The applications under section 12 shall be dealt with and the   orders   enforced   in   the   same   manner   laid   down   under section   125   of   the   Code   of   Criminal   Procedure,   1973   (2   of 1974)....."
  • and CrPC rules lay down execution before arrest
  • However, Ms. Flavia Agnes is brought in as Amicus Curiae by HC
  • She says "Sec 28 of DV act : ...Nothing in sub­section (1) shall prevent the court from laying down its own procedure for disposal of an application under section 12 or under sub­section (2) of section 23......"; So, in a way, the direct NBW by the Magistrate becomes "..its own procedure,,,"
  • HC orders that is NOT necessary for magistrate to auction property or start execution proceedings to recover maintenance and Magistate can issue NBW for non payment
  • HC also assumes that the lower court would have seen IF husband had sufficient means !! "...It may be stated that the proof of sufficient means of the husband to maintain the wife would have already been seen in the order of maintenance. ....
  • Pertinent to note that Arrears has built up further when case was on appeal !!




IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT BOMBAY

CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

CRIMINAL WRIT PETITION NO.236 OF 2013

Sagar Sudhakar Shendge             – Petitioner

V/s.

Mrs. Naina Sagar Shendge & Ors.    – Respondents


Mr. E.B. Dixit, Adv. a/w. Mr. P.R. Yadav, Adv. for the Petitioner.
Ms. Flavia Agnes, Amicus Curiae.
Sushma Singh, Adv. for the Respondent No.1.
Mrs. A.A. Mane, APP for the Respondent No.2.


CORAM :   MRS. ROSHAN DALVI, J.

Date of Reserving the Order :    22 nd March, 2013

Date of Pronouncing the Order :     4 th April, 2013.

P.C.  :

1. The   Petitioner   is   the   husband   against   whom   maintenance order   has   been   passed   U/s.20   of   the   Protection   of   Woman   from Domestic   Violence   Act   (DV   Act).     The   Petitioner   has   challenged   the order of maintenance in the Sessions Court in which the Petitioner has not obtained any stay of the order ordering maintenance U/s.20 of the DV   Act.   The   husband   breached   the   order   of   maintenance. Consequently, wife applied for execution of the order of maintenance. Hence the wife filed an application for issue of warrant for recovery of the   maintenance   amount.     Consequent,   NBW   has   been   issued.     The Petitioner has challenged the order of issuing NBW. 

2. In his application the learned Judge observed that an appeal was preferred, but no stay was granted and that the husband (petitioner herein)  was   given   ample   opportunity   to   deposit   interim   maintenance but he was only binding time.   Hence learned Magistrate granted the application of the wife and issued the NBW.  He also directed that if the Respondent paid off the arrears of maintenance which was Rs.56,000/­ he   will   be   released   at   the   time   of   the   execution   of   the   NBW.     The amount   of   maintenance   payable   under   the   same   order   is   now   much more.

3. Counsel on behalf of the Petitioner has contended that the learned Magistrate has no powers to issue NBW under the DV Act. 

4. The learned Special Public Prosecutor (Spl PP) has drawn my attention to Rule 6 of the DV Rules which relates to applications U/s.12 of the DV Act. Section 12 of the DV Act runs thus :

(1) An aggrieved person or a Protection Officer or any other person   on   behalf   of   the   aggrieved   person   may   present   an application to the Magistrate seeking one or more reliefs under this Act:

5. The wife in this case applied for reliefs under Sections 17 to 23 of the DV Act.  The learned Magistrate granted order U/s.20.  That is an order of maintenance. The relevant part of Rule 6 (5) runs thus :

6. Application to the Magistrate. –

(5) The applications under section 12 shall be dealt with and the   orders   enforced   in   the   same   manner   laid   down   under section   125   of   the   Code   of   Criminal   Procedure,   1973   (2   of 1974).

6. Consequently under Rule 6(5) the order passed U/s.20 upon an application made U/s.12 would have to be enforced in the manner laid down in the Section 125 of the CrPC.

7. Further the Magistrate would have to follow the procedure U/s.28 (1) of the DV Act to which my attention has been drawn by the learned Spl PP.  Section 28(1) of the DV Act runs thus :

28. Procedure. – (1)   Save   as   otherwise   provided   in   this   Act,   all   proceedings under   Sections   12,18,19,20,21,22   &   23   and   offences   under Section 31 shall be governed by the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

8. The provisions in the CrPC lay down that the Section 125 is to be r/w. along with Form 19 followed by Form 18.

The relevant part of Section 125 (3) runs thus :

125. Order for maintenance of wives, children and parents. –

(3) If any person so ordered fails without sufficient cause to comply   with   the   order,   any   such   Magistrate   may,   for   every breach of the order, issue a warrant for levying the amount due   in   the   manner   provided   for   levying   fines,   and   may sentence   such   person,   for   the   whole,   or   any   part   of   each month's   (allowance   for   the   maintenance   or   the   interim maintenance and expenses of proceeding, as the case may be,) remaining   unpaid   after   the   execution   of   the   warrant,   to imprisonment for a term which may extend to one month or until payment if sooner made:

9. Under   sub   section   3  upon   failure   to   pay  maintenance   and committing breach of the order of maintenance the Magistrate will be entitled   to   issue   an   warrant.     The   warrant   would   be   for   levying   the amount as a fine. 

10. Counsel   on   behalf   of   the   Petitioner   drew
   my   attention   to Section 421 of the CrPC which deals with the warrant for levying  of fine. The relevant part of Section 421 runs thus:

421. Warrant for levy of fine. –

(1)   When   an   offender   has   been   sentenced   to   pay   a   fine,   the Court passing the sentence may take action for the recovery of the fine in either or both of the following ways, that is to say, it may ­­­

(a) issue a warrant for the levy of the amount by attachment and sale of any moveable property belonging to the offender;

(b) issue a warrant to the Collector of the district, authorising him to realise the amount as arrears of land revenue from the movable or immovable property, or both, of the defaulter.

11. It is argued on behalf of the Petitioner husband that in this case the Magistrate would follow u/s.421 (1) (a).   He would issue a warrant for attachment and sale of the property of the husband.   The form of issuing such a warrant is under Form 19 of the CrPC.  The form is issued upon Police Officer to attach moveable property and sale up to the extent of the unpaid amount of maintenance. 

12. If even after such warrant is issued for attachment and sale and the property is attached and sold but yet the maintenance amount remains unpaid, the Magistrate, under the latter part of Section 125(3) would sentence the husband for such amount upto for one month.

13. It is further argued on behalf of the Petitioner that the issue of   that   warrant  would   be   as   per Form  18 of   the   CrPC   which   is   the warrant for imprisonment for failure to pay maintenance U/s.125 of the CrPC which is different from the form for NBW issued by the learned Magistrate. 

14. It   may   be   stated   that   the   proof   of   sufficient   means   of   the husband   to   maintain   the   wife   would   have   already   been   seen   in   the order of maintenance.   The inability to pay maintenance to her would also   have   been   seen.   The   order   would   have   been   duly   made   for payment   of   maintenance   to   the   wife   and   /   or   child   for   the   specific amount.  The first recital is in that behalf.   The failure of the husband would   seen   upon   non   payment   as   also   non   execution   of   warrant   of attachment and sale.  The Magistrate would be entitled to pass an order adjudging   the   husband   to   undergo   imprisonment   in   the   jail   for   the period allowed U/s.125 (3) which is up to one month.

15. A reading of Section 125(3) shows that after execution of the warrant for levying an amount of maintenance due as levying a fine is executed the Magistrate may sentence the husband. 16. It is contended on behalf of the husband that the Magistrate has   yet   not   sentenced   the   husband.     There   is   no   order   to   undergo imprisonment.     Consequently, Form   18 which   requires   to   show   the order directing imprisonment cannot be made applicable before Form 19 which requires attachment and sale of his moveable property.

17. In this case the learned Magistrate has issued NBW against the   husband.     It   is   contended   by   counsel   on   behalf   of   the   Petitioner husband that the learned Magistrate has not followed procedure under CrPC which is required to be followed U/s. 28 (1) of the DV Act.  It is contended by the counsel on behalf of the husband that for application under   Section   12   in   which   relief   U/s.20   is   granted,   Section   125   (3) under Rule 6 of the DV Rules becomes applicable.

18. My  attention   has   been   drawn   by   counsel   on   behalf   of   the Petitioner husband to the Judgment of the learned Single Judge of the Kerela High Court in the case Shanavas, S/o. Abdulsalam Vs. Raseena, D/o. Shihabudeen and Anr., Cri M C No.4843 of 2010. In that an interim protection order passed U/s.23(1) of the DV Act was breached. The   Court   held   that   the   penalty   for   the   breach   is   provided   only   in Section 31 of the DV Act and the Court held that NBW cannot be issued for the breach of a protection order and arrest cannot be directed by issuing   NBW   before   the   Magistrate   takes   cognizance   of   the   offence U/s.31(1)   of   the   CrPC.     That   was   also   the   case   of   failure   to   pay maintenance. It was held that the Magistrate could not issue NBW as was done in that case. 

19. Hence it is contended that at present the simplicitor issue of order of NBW is not in accordance with the complete procedure laid down under the DV Act r/w. 125 (3) of the CrPC. 

20. The Court appointed Ms. Flavia Agnes, to assist the Court as amicus curiae.  She has drawn my attention to Section 28 (2) of the DV Act which runs thus:

Nothing in sub­section (1) shall prevent the court from laying down its own procedure for disposal of an application under section 12 or under sub­section (2) of section 23.

21. Thus   the   aforesaid   argument   becomes   academic.   The provisions of the CrPC relating to maintenance as also the DV Act which are   beneficial   legislations   for   protection   of   women   such   as   the Respondent wife in this case are required to be construed such as to benefit those persons for whom they are enacted.

22. The   Magistrate   issuing   NBW,   therefore,   seems   to   have followed the Special Procedure for the arrest of the husband for non payment of the maintenance ordered to be paid.   Such procedure and such procedural order is within the framework of Section 28(2) of the DV Act and hence cannot be faulted as it is not seen to be illegal. 

23. Hence the NBW is confirmed.  The Writ Petition is dismissed. The   NBW   shall   be   executed   unless   the   husband   pays   off   the   entire arrears now due and payable. 


24. The Court is grateful to the learned   amicus curiae for her guidance. 

25. Writ Petition is disposed off accordingly.


   ( ROSHAN DALVI, J.)