karnataka high court

Karnataka High Court: While deliberating over the instant challenge to the registration of crime under Sections 498-A, 504, 507 and 417 of the Penal Code, 1860 against the petitioner, the Bench of M. Nagaprasanna, J.*, allowed the petition and held that since the complainant is already married, hence there can be no question of cheating on the breach of promise of marriage. Therefore, the said offence cannot be laid against the petitioner. The Court also held that merely because the petitioner had sent some money during time of complainant’s need, it cannot be said that the petitioner has to maintain them without a legal bond between the complainant and the petitioner. Therefore, the offence under Section 498-A of Penal Code, 1860, which deals with dowry harassment and cruelty, is loosely laid against the petitioner.

Background: The complainant was already married and when she was pregnant, her husband dropped the complainant to her parents’ house. After 2 years, the husband came back and the complainant along with their daughter, moved to Bengaluru. However, the husband left them again after 6 months.

After the husband went away for the second time, the complainant got a job at Marico Marketing. It was here where the complainant and the petitioner met.

The complainant alleged that that the petitioner assured that he would marry her even after she informed him of their age gap and the fact that she has a daughter. However, the complainant states that the petitioner did not keep up his assurance of marriage, which is why she registered a complaint alleging offences punishable under Sections 498-A, 504, 507 and 417 of the IPC. The registration of crime is what led the petitioner to the Court.

Contentions: Counsels for the petitioner contended that petitioner had helped the complainant during her dire needs, but he did not give any assurance to marry her. Since the complainant is still married, therefore the allegations of breach do not hold any ground. It was further stated that the petitioner can be called as a ‘paramour’ of the complainant and nothing else.

Per contra, the couples for the complainant argued that given the travesty of her life, the complainant is neither here nor there. It was contended that the petitioner promised her that he would marry her and has now breached the said marriage assurance. It was submitted that prior to the registration of the crimes, the petitioner who was in Malaysia, used to send her money for the purpose of living for two years every month; therefore, he has shown the traits of being a husband.

Court’s Assessment: Perusing the facts and contentions of the case, the Court pointed out that there is no document produced to demonstrate that the petitioner at any time was the complainant’s husband nor there is evidentiary narration in the complaint. In the meanwhile, the presented records clearly suggest that the complainant is already married to another man with who she has daughter and that their marriage has not dissolved as of now. The Court wondered that “If she is already married (…) it is highly un-understandable as to how the present petitioner can be claimed to be her husband”.

The Court pointed out that since there is no marital bond between the petitioner and complainant, therefore the charges under Section 498-A, IPC (dowry related cruelty and harassment) and Section 417, IPC (cheating) cannot be attracted.

Furthermore, the Court stated that it was bewildered as to how Section 504, IPC (intentional insult to provoke breach of peace) applies to the facts of this case as the provision relates to provocation which is going to break public peace.

The Court pointed out that Section 507, IPC deals with criminal intimidation by an anonymous communication. However, there is no anonymous communication in the case at hand made by the petitioner. “The complainant appears to be twining a story to get hold of the petitioner which, in the considered view of this court, if permitted would become an abuse of the process of law and result in miscarriage of justice”.

With the afore-stated findings, the Court quashed the impugned complaint.

[Prajith R. v. X, Criminal Petition No. 544 of 2021, decided on 16-06-2023]

*Order by Justice M. Nagaprasanna

Advocates who appeared in this case :

H. Pavana Chandra Shetty, appearing for the Petitioner;

G. Manjunatha, appearing for respondent No.1 and K.P. Yashodha, High Court Government Pleader appearing for Respondent No. 2.

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