Law on Theft | Daughter-in-law thrown out of matrimonial home and accused of removal of letters from possession of matrimonial home: Whether Del HC will find her guilty under S. 380 IPC or not? Read detailed report

Delhi High Court: Chandra Dhari Singh, J., noted that instant dispute has arisen out of matrimonial discord between two people which had also, led to the filing of more than 50 criminal and civil cases between not only the husband and the wife but also their family members. It was found that for the sole purpose of harassing the other party such cases were filed by persons with no just cause or reason and substantial ground for allegations.

A petition under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 had been filed against the order passed by the Special Judge (PC ACT) CBI arising out of Summoning Order passed in a case registered for an offence punishable under Section 380 of the Penal Code, 1860.

Factual Matrix

Petitioner and son of respondent 2 solemnized their marriage and respondent 2 was the father-in-law of the petitioner.

It was alleged by the petitioner that her husband used to continuously torture, harass and humiliate her for dowry and other issues since the very beginning of marriage and was maltreated by him and his family members.

It was also stated that the petitioner was having an illicit relationship that was supported by his family members, later on, the petitioner was treated in an inhumane manner and thrown out of the matrimonial house.

Amongst the number of cases filed by the parties, one of the cases which were filed by the petitioner gave rise to the present petition which was filed under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005. In the said case, Metropolitan Magistrate passed an order wherein it was observed that the husband of the petitioner was the 50% owner of the co-owned house, the petitioner was residing on the first floor of the said matrimonial home till the day she was dispossessed from the house and that there was a prima facie case that the husband was having an illicit affair. Hence, the petitioner was entitled to the right of residence.

The petitioner came to know that a notice of summons was issued by Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate against her order in a complaint case filed by respondent 2 under Section 380 of the IPC for allegedly removing certain letters from the deemed possession of respondent 2 while he was not present at his house.

On being aggrieved with the above order, the petitioner filed a criminal petition which was disposed by a coordinate bench of this Court against the Order of Summoning. Petitioner’s revision petition was also dismissed by the Session Court.

In the present petition, the petitioner has impugned the Session’s Court order by way of which the Session Judge observed that a prima facie ground had been made out to allege that the Petitioner committed theft of the letters in possession of the Respondent 2.

Analysis, Law and Decision

High Court expressed that, it is a well-settled position of law that while issuing summons to the accused the Court concerned has to be prima facie satisfied with the charges alleged against the accused.

As per the provisions for an offence under Section 380 of IPC, the person committing the offence shall firstly, remove any movable property from the possession of a person, secondly, do so without his consent and thirdly, remove such property with dishonest intention.

“…intention must be to cause wrongful gain to one and wrongful loss to another, and in terms of theft, while removing the movable property out of the possession of a person, the person committing theft must have such kind of intention.”

In Court’s opinion, even if the Petitioner picked up the letters lying on the floor of the part of the house in possession of the Respondent 2, the dishonest intention, of causing wrongful gain to herself or any other person and wrongful loss to the Respondent 2 or anyone else, could not be established at the preliminary stage.

No dishonest intention was found in the actions of the petitioner. Therefore, the offence of theft was not made out against the petitioner.

Elaborating further, with regard to the powers of Revisional Court, High Court held that the Revisional Court ought to have appreciated that the Court below did not consider that prima facie an offence of theft was not made out against the petitioner as the ingredients of offence under Section 380 IPC were not met.

In view of the above petition was allowed and disposed of. [Anjani Gupta v. State (NCT of Delhi), 2022 SCC OnLine Del 699, decided on 8-3-2022]


Advocates before the Court:

For the Petitioner:

Arvind Varma, Sr. Advocate with Abhishek Chhabra, Advocate

For the Respondent:

Raghuvinder Varma, APP for State with SI Laukesh Kumar, P.S. Preet Vihar.

Puneet Goel, Advocate for R-2

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