Law on S. 498-A IPC | Can an alleged girlfriend be arrayed as an accused in a crime registered under S. 498-A IPC? Bom HC reiterates SC’s observation

Bombay High Court: The Division Bench of V.K. Jadhav and Shrikant D. Kulkarni, JJ., reiterated that an alleged girlfriend cannot be arrayed as accused in an offence registered under Section 498-A of Penal Code, 1860.

Applicant was accused of the offences punishable under Sections 498-A, 323, 504, 506 of the Penal Code, 1860.

The above-stated crime came to be registered on the basis of the complaint lodged by respondent 2.

It was alleged in the complaint that after co-accused (husband of respondent 2) returned from Ireland and respondent 2 while checking his bag, found one packet on which present applicant’s name alleged to have been written along with her address. Thereafter, respondent 2 questioned about the same to her husband – co-accused, though he gave her some evasive answers. Thereafter again, the co-accused went to Ireland and returned to India in September 2016, however respondent 2 noted the substantial change in his behaviour.

Further, it was alleged that for no reason, the applicant Deepika made a phone call to her and abused her. The co-accused on being questioned explained to respondent 2 that he had given the status of wife to the applicant. By saying so he extended the beatings to respondent 2.

Analysis and Decision

On perusal of the charge sheet, it appeared that the applicant was not the relative of the co-accused, hence ingredients of Section 498-A IPC will not be attracted against the present applicant.

In the decision of State of Haryana v. Bhajan Lal, 1992 Supp (1) SCC 335, in para 105 of the judgment, the Supreme Court, by referring the various cases on this point has formulated the categories of cases by way of illustration, wherein such powers under Section 482 of the Cr.P.C. could be exercised either to prevent abuse of the process of any Court or otherwise to secure the ends of justice, though it may not be possible to lay down any precise, clearly defined and sufficiently channelised and inflexible guidelines or rigid formulae and to give an exhaustive list of myriad kinds of cases wherein such power should be exercised.

High Court stated that the allegations made and if accepted in their entirety, do not prima facie constitute any offence or make out a case against the applicant. Regarding the charge under Section 498-A IPC, in the case of U. Suvetha v. State, (2009) 6 SCC 757, Supreme Court observed that by no stretch of imagination, a girlfriend or even a concubine in an etymological sense would be a ‘relative’.

Further, no allegations were mentioned in the FIR with regard to Section 323, 504 and 506 of the IPC. There was a mere reference in the FIR that on one occasion, the applicant abused respondent 2/informant by making a phone call. However, there were no further details as to whether those abuses ultimately attracting the provisions of Section 504 of the Penal Code. Similarly, there were absolutely no allegations to attract the penal provisions of Section 506 of the Penal Code.

With regard to charge under Section 323 IPC, respondent 2 had made certain allegations. It was alleged that the applicant had been to her matrimonial home, joined the other co-accused persons and extended the beatings for the reason that she was not bringing the amount from her parents.

The Bench stated that, so far as allegations of demand and ill-treatment being extended to respondent 2 on account of non-fulfilment of demand is concerned, the allegations are made exclusively against the other co-accused persons. It is thus clear that these allegations have been made with mala fide and ulterior motives for wreaking vengeance against the present applicant.

Respondent 2 had a grudge against the applicant, hence the allegations were made with malafides and for wreaking vengeance against her.

Therefore, FIR and the criminal proceedings were quashed. [Deepika Hanmant Zanjurne v. State of Maharashtra, 2021 SCC OnLine Bom 6852, decided on 27-9-2021]

Advocates before the Court:

Mr Ashutosh S. Kulkarni, Advocate for applicant

Mr R.D. Sanap, A.P.P. for respondent no.1/State

Mr A.D. Aghav, Advocate for respondent no.2

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