Sunday, June 23, 2013

vague allegations of dowry against husband's sister - case against husband's sister quashed. Preeti Gupta & Another v. State of Jharkhand referred. In this case Husband is a lance naik in the Army, posted at various places, wife lives with him for three years, husband's sister NOT living with couple, still wife files case against husband's sister . Court refers to vague allegations and case against husband's sister quashed

quoting the honourble supreme court "...."30. It is a matter of common experience that most of these complaints under section 498-A IPC are filed in the heat of the moment over trivial issues without proper deliberations. We come across a large number of such complaints which are not even bona fide and are filed with oblique motive. ....."




Punjab-Haryana High Court

Parminder Kaur vs State Of Punjab & Anr. on 15 January, 2013

IN THE HIGH COURT OF PUNJAB AND HARYANA AT

CHANDIGARH

Criminal Misc. No. M-22888 of 2011

Date of Decision:-15.1.2013

Parminder Kaur ......Petitioner Versus

State of Punjab & Anr. .....Respondents CORAM: HON'BLE MR. JUSTICE MEHINDER SINGH SULLAR

Present: Mr.A.S.Gill, Advocate for the petitioner. Mr.P.S.Bajwa, Addl. AG Punjab for respondent No.1.

Mr.Sandeep Arora, Advocate for respondent No.2.

MEHINDER SINGH SULLAR, J. (Oral)

The crux of the facts & material, culminating in the commencement, relevant for deciding the instant petition and emanating from the record, is that, the marriage of complainant-Amarjit Kaur, daughter of Kuldeep Singh respondent No.2 (for brevity "the complainant") was solemnized with Gurdeep Singh son of Joga Singh, on 7.4.2002, according to Sikh religious rites and ceremonies at Jalandhar. The marriage was stated to have been solemnized with great pump and show by spending ` 6 lacs and sufficient dowry articles & other golden ornaments, besides customary gifts, were given by her parents at the time of marriage. According to the complainant that although a gold ring, kitty set (gold) and ` 21000/- were handed over to accused Davinder Kaur as well, but the accused demanded cash of ` 2½ lacs, in lieu of other dowry articles, which were handed over to accused Joga Singh and Davinder Singh. The accused were claimed to have misappropriated her dowry articles and started maltreating, harassed and gave beatings to her.

2. Leveling a variety of allegations and narrating the sequence of events, in all, the complainant claimed that all the accused have misappropriated her dowry articles, demanded cash of Rs.2,50,000/- and treated her with cruelty in connection with and on account of demand of dowry. In the background of these allegations and in the wake of complaint of the complainant, the present case was registered against accused Gurdeep Singh (husband), Surinder Kaur & Joga Singh (parents- in-law), Davinder Singh (brother-in-law) & Parminder Kaur petitioner sister-in-law (Devrani) of the complainant, by means of FIR No.13 dated 20.4.2011 (Annexure P3), on accusation of having committed the offences punishable under sections 406 & 498-A IPC, by the police of Police Station Women Cell, Jalandhar, in the manner depicted here-in- above.

3. Aggrieved by the initiation of the criminal prosecution, the petitioner (sister-in-law) has preferred the instant petition, to quash the impugned FIR (Annexure P-3), invoking the provisions of Section 482 Cr.P.C.

4. The case set up by the petitioner, in brief in so far as relevant, was that the marriage of complainant Amarjit Kaur was solemnized with Gurdeep Singh on 7.4.2002, whereas the marriage of petitioner was performed with Davinder Singh, younger brother of Gurdeep Singh, husband of the complainant, on 24.4.2005, after three years of the marriage of the complainant. Davinder Singh is a Lans Naik in the Sikh Regiment of the Army. After solemnization of her (petitioner) marriage, she has been mostly staying with her husband at different places of his posting. They are staying separately from their parents and have got no connection with the complainant. Their parents have already partitioned their property. The allegations leveled against the petitioner were termed to be false, frivolous and motivated and she has been falsely implicated by the complainant in the present case. It was claimed that since no specific role or overt-act is attributed, so, no indicated offences are made out against the petitioner. On the strength of aforesaid grounds, she sought to quash the impugned FIR (Annexure P3) and all other subsequent proceedings arising thereto qua her, invoking the provisions of section 482 Cr.PC.

5. The respondent-State refuted the prayer of petitioner and filed the reply, inter-alia pleading certain preliminary objections of, maintainability of the petition, cause of action and locus standi of petitioner. The matter was stated to have been enquired into by the Assistant Commissioner of Police and the case was rightly registered against the accused. Instead of reproducing the entire contents of the reply and in order to avoid the repetition, suffice it to say that the respondents have reiterated the allegations depicted in the impugned FIR (Annexure P3). However, it will not be out of place to mention here that they have stoutly denied all other allegations contained in the main petition and prayed for its dismissal.

6. Above being the position on record, now the short & significant question, though important, that arises for determination in this case is, as to whether the impugned FIR (Annexure P3), relatable to petitioner, is liable to be quashed or not?

7. Having regard to the rival contentions of learned counsel for parties, to me, the answer must obviously be in the affirmative in this connection.

8. As is evident from the record, that the marriage of complainant was solemnized with main accused Gurdeep Singh son of Joga Singh on 7.4.2002, whereas the marriage of petitioner was performed with Davinder Singh, younger brother of Gurdeep Singh on 24.4.2005 i.e. after more than three years. That means, the petitioner was not even residing in the matrimonial home of the complainant at the relevant time. It is not a matter of dispute that Davinder Singh, husband of the petitioner, is working as Lans Naik in the Indian Army and petitioner is dependent on him, as per dependent identity card (Annexure P1). Annexure P2 is a copy of ration card, which would reveal that petitioner was residing with her husband Davinder Singh.

9. Moreover, very very vague and general allegations of cruelty in connection with and on account of demand of dowry are attributed to the petitioner. The allegations assigned to are as vague as anything and no specific role or overt-act, constituting the pointed offences, are attributed to her. All the allegations of cruelty for demand of dowry are attributed to the other main accused (non-petitioners), who are facing the trial in the trial Court. Petitioner is sister-in-law (Devrani), whose marriage was solemnized, three years after the marriage of complainant. This factual matrix has not been disputed on behalf of complainant.

10. In that eventuality, how, when and in what manner, the petitioner has treated the complainant with cruelty in this relevant connection, remains an unfolded mystery. Not only that, it is highly impossible to believe the version of complainant that the petitioner, whose marriage was performed three years after the marriage of complainant, has misappropriated the dowry articles given at the time of her (complainant) marriage or that she has treated her with cruelty in this regard.

11. It is now well settled legal proposition that in order to attract the indicated penal provisions against the unmarried/married sisters-in- law, there must be specific allegations or overt-act and prima facie material to indicate that dowry articles were actually entrusted to them and they misappropriated the same. For the fault of the husband, the sister-in-law (Devrani) cannot, in all cases, be held to be involved in the demand of dowry. Where such accusation is made, the overt acts attributed to sister-in-law, other than husband & parents-in-law, are required to be prima facie established. By mere conjectures and implications, such relations cannot be held to be involved for the offences relating to the demand of dowry, which are totally lacking in the present case. The reliance in this regard can be placed to the judgments of the Hon'ble Apex Court in cases Ramesh and others Versus State of Tamil Nadu, 2005(2) R.C.R.(Criminal) 68, Sushil Kumar Sharma Versus Union of India and others, 2005(3) R.C.R.(Criminal) 745 and Kans Raj Versus State of Punjab and others, 2000(2) R.C.R.(Criminal)

11. Not only that, this Court has also considered this aspect of the matter in cases Harjinder Kaur and others v. State of Punjab 2004(4) RCR(Criminal) 332; Labh Singh and others v. State of Haryana 2006(2) RCR (Criminal) 296; Rakesh Kumar and others v. State of Punjab and others 2009(2) RCR (Criminal) 565; Mohinder Kaur & Others v. State of Punjab & Another 2010 (2) RCR(Criminal) 597, Paramjit Kaur v. State of Punjab 2011(5) RCR (Criminal) 686 and Ritu Khurana and another v. Brij Lal Chopra 2012 (2) RCR (Criminal) 117; wherein it was held that "the allegations against the relatives of the husband were vague and there is growing tendency to come out with inflated and exaggerated allegations roping in each and every relation of the husband, things have now taken a reverse trend and the women are abusing beneficial provisions of Section 498-A IPC." This matter is no more res integra and is now well settled.

12. An identical question recently came to be decided by the Hon'ble Apex Court in case Preeti Gupta & Another v. State of Jharkhand & Another 2010(7) SCC 667.

After interpreting the provisions of Section 498-A IPC, it was ruled as under (paras 30 to 36) :-

"30. It is a matter of common experience that most of these complaints under section 498-A IPC are filed in the heat of the moment over trivial issues without proper deliberations. We come across a large number of such complaints which are not even bona fide and are filed with oblique motive. At the same time, rapid increase in the number of genuine cases of dowry harassment are also a matter of serious concern.

31. The learned members of the Bar have enormous social responsibility and obligation to ensure that the social fiber of family life is not ruined or demolished. They must ensure that exaggerated versions of small incidents should not be reflected in the criminal complaints. Majority of the complaints are filed either on their advice or with their concurrence. The learned members of the Bar who belong to a noble profession must maintain its noble traditions and should treat every complaint under section 498-A as a basic human problem and must make serious endeavour to help the parties in arriving at an amicable resolution of that human problem. They must discharge their duties to the best of their abilities to ensure that social fiber, peace and tranquility of the society remains intact. The members of the Bar should also ensure that one complaint should not lead to multiple cases.

32. Unfortunately, at the time of filing of the complaint the implications and consequences are not properly visualized by the complainant that such complaint can lead to insurmountable harassment, agony and pain to the complainant, accused and his close relations.

33. The ultimate object of justice is to find out the truth and punish the guilty and protect the innocent. To find out the truth is a herculean task in majority of these complaints. The tendency of implicating husband and all his immediate relations is also not uncommon. At times, even after the conclusion of criminal trial, it is difficult to ascertain the real truth. The courts have to be extremely careful and cautious in dealing with these complaints and must take pragmatic realities into consideration while dealing with matrimonial cases. The allegations of harassment of husband's close relations who had been living in different cities and never visited or rarely visited the place where the complainant resided would have an entirely different complexion. The allegations of the complaint are required to be scrutinized with great care and circumspection. Experience reveals that long and protracted criminal trials lead to rancour, acrimony and bitterness in the relationship amongst the parties. It is also a matter of common knowledge that in cases filed by the complainant if the husband or the husband's relations had to remain in jail even for a few days, it would ruin the chances of amicable settlement altogether. The process of suffering is extremely long and painful.

34. Before parting with this case, we would like to observe that a serious relook of the entire provision is warranted by the legislation. It is also a matter of common knowledge that exaggerated versions of the incident are reflected in a large number of complaints. The tendency of over implication is also reflected in a very large number of cases.

35. The criminal trials lead to immense sufferings for all concerned. Even ultimate acquittal in the trial may also not be able to wipe out the deep scars of suffering of ignominy. Unfortunately a large number of these complaints have not only flooded the courts but also have led to enormous social unrest affecting peace, harmony and happiness of the society. It is high time that the legislature must take into consideration the pragmatic realities and make suitable changes in the existing law. It is imperative for the legislature to take into consideration the informed public opinion and the pragmatic realities in consideration and make necessary changes in the relevant provisions of law. We direct the Registry to send a copy of this judgment to the Law Commission and to the Union Law Secretary, Government of India who may place it before the Hon'ble Minister for Law & Justice to take appropriate steps in the larger interest of the society.

36. When the facts and circumstances of the case are considered in the background of legal principles set out in preceding paragraphs, then it would be unfair to compel the appellants to undergo the rigmarole of a criminal trial. In the interest of justice, we deem it appropriate to quash the complaint against the appellants. As a result, the impugned judgment of the High Court is set aside. Consequently, this appeal is allowed."

13. The same view was again recently reiterated by the Hon'ble Supreme Court in Criminal Appeal No.1674 of 2012 titled as "Geeta Mehrotra & Anr. v. State of UP & Anr." decided on 17.12.2012. Therefore, the ratio of law laid down in the aforesaid judgments "mutatis mutandis" is duly applicable to the facts of the instant case and is the complete answer to the problem in hand.

14. Sequelly, if the epitome of the allegations leveled against the petitioner as described here-in-above, is clubbed together and is perused, then, to my mind, no offences in question are made out and the complainant has vexatiously and maliciously got registered the FIR (Annexure P-3) against her, in order to wreak vengeance and to put undue pressure, particularly when her marriage was solemnized after three years of the marriage of the complainant. In that eventuality, if the complainant is permitted to prosecute her sister-in-law (Devrani), who is residing separately, then, it will inculcate and perpetuate great injustice to her. Therefore, the complainant appears to have falsely involved the petitioner in the present case. Thus, the impugned FIR (Annexure P-3) and all other consequent proceedings arising therefrom, qua the petitioner only, deserve to be and are hereby quashed in the obtaining circumstances of the case.

15. No other legal point, worth consideration, has either been urged or pressed by the counsel for the parties.

16. In the light of aforesaid reasons and without commenting further anything on merits, lest it may prejudice the case of either side during the course of trial of the main case against the remaining main co- accused, the instant petition filed by the petitioner (sister-in-law) (Devrani) of complainant is accepted. Consequently, the impugned FIR (Annexure P-3) and all other subsequent proceedings arising therefrom, with regard and relatable to the petitioner only, are hereby quashed. She is accordingly, discharged from the indicated criminal case.

17. Needless to mention that, nothing recorded here-in-above, would reflect on the merits of the main case, in any manner during the course of trial, as the same has been so observed for a limited purpose of deciding the present petition only.

15.1.2013

(MEHINDER SINGH SULLAR) AS JUDGE