Madhya Pradesh High Court: While dealing with a case of quashment of an FIR filed under Section 498-A of the Penal Code, 1860 (IPC), which pertained to dowry-related offenses and cruelty, a single-judge bench comprising of Vivek Rusia,* J., observed the misuse of Section 498-A and considered the jurisdiction, venue, and merits of the case before quashing the FIR and related proceedings due to the absence of credible evidence and jurisdictional issues.
In the instant matter, the petitioner 1 married respondent 2 in Indore on 22-6-2017. Respondent 2 filed an FIR alleging that her husband-petitioner 1, his parents, and others demanded money and ill-treated her for dowry after the marriage. The FIR was registered in Indore despite the fact that none of the offenses were alleged to have occurred there. The petitioners were residents of Gurgaon, and respondent 2's parents were from Navi Mumbai.
The allegations included a demand for Rs. 10 lakhs and a car, along with allegations of cruelty. The respondent 2 also alleged that her husband Kartik Mathur left for Australia, citing unhappiness due to unmet dowry demands.
The petitioners filed present petitions under Section 482 of the CrPC seeking the quashment of FIR registered based on a complaint filed by respondent 2. The complaint alleged offenses under sections 498-A, 323, and 34 of the Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) at Police Station Mahila Thana, Indore.
The petitioners contended that they were permanent residents of Gurgaon, and the allegations in the FIR pertained to events in Gurgaon and not Indore. The delay in filing the FIR and the possibility of misuse of Section 498-A were raised.
The respondents contended that the allegations required detailed evidence, which couldn’t be assessed at this stage. It was further contended that the Court should not interfere prematurely.
Court's Observation and Decision
The Court noted that the parties had settled in Australia and that the parents of the husband were being harassed by the Indian legal proceedings. The Court stated that this case has now become “a case of reverse cruelty” upon the petitioner 1's parents as the parties are residing outside India and they are made to suffer in India by way of criminal or matrimonial litigation.
The Court observed that there is no specific allegation that when the husband left India for Australia there was any demand for dowry, etc. The Court observed that Section 498-A of the IPC is often misused and caused undue harassment. The Court stated that
“…where there is apparent misuse of Section 498-A of the Penal Code, 1860 the High Court should exercise the power conferred under section 482 of the Cr.P.C. to protect the relatives of the husband in matrimonial dispute in order to do the complete justice and prevent misuse of the process of law.”
Considering the allegations and the delay in filing the FIR, the Court held that the FIR was filed with the intention to harass the accused. The Court further noted that the allegations related to acts outside Indore and therefore, the FIR’s registration in Indore was incorrect.
The Court allowed the petitions and quashed the FIR and the subsequent proceedings.
[Rajan v. State of M.P., 2023 SCC OnLine MP 2391, order dated 17-08-2023]
*Judgment by Justice Vivek Rusia
Advocates who appeared in this case :
Mr. Amar Singh Rathore, Counsel for the Petitioners
Mr. Sudarshan Joshi, Govt. Advocate, Counsel for the Respondent No. 1/State
Mr. Jerry Lopez, Counsel for the Respondent No. 2