Delhi High Court

Delhi High Court: A petition was filed under Section 482 of Criminal Procedure Code seeking quashing of FIR registered under Sections 498-A, 406 and 34 of Penal Code, 1860 (‘IPC’), against the petitioners. Navin Chawla, J., held that the petition is allowed, and the impugned FIR registered under Sections 498A, 406 and 34 of IPC, and all other proceedings emanating therefrom against the petitioners are hereby quashed. Pending application is also disposed of as being rendered infructuous.

The case unfolds against the backdrop of a matrimonial dispute stemming from alleged harassment and abuse endured by the complainant, respondent 2, since her marriage to the nephew of petitioner 1 in 1994. Central to the allegations is a specific incident dated 18-07-2007, where the complainant claims to have been coerced into paying a dowry, subjected to physical assault, and rendered unconscious by her husband, petitioner 1, and other family members, including petitioner 2. However, the filing of the FIR only occurred in 2017, approximately a decade after the alleged incident, raising questions about the delay and the credibility of the complaint. Moreover, the petitioners assert their separate living arrangements from the complainant and her husband, arguing that their inclusion in the legal dispute is unwarranted and likely retaliatory, particularly in light of ongoing civil proceedings initiated by the mother-in-law of the complainant. In response to the FIR and subsequent legal proceedings, the petitioners invoked Section 482 CrPC seeking the quashing of the FIR and associated charges.

Counsel for the petitioners argued that the allegations were baseless and likely retaliatory in nature, especially considering ongoing civil proceedings initiated by the mother-in-law of the complainant. They emphasized the lack of evidence supporting the accusations against the petitioners. Counsel for respondents argued against quashing the FIR, asserting the validity of the complainant’s claims. They contended that the delay in filing the complaint did not undermine its credibility, and the allegations warranted further investigation.

The Court noted the absence of corroborating evidence and highlighted discrepancies, such as the alleged complaint made by the complainant to another police station, which could not be verified. The Court underscored the importance of preventing the misuse of legal processes, particularly in cases involving matrimonial disputes. It stressed the need for specific and credible allegations to warrant criminal proceedings against family members of the accused.

The Court remarked that “Mostly general and vague allegations have been made against the family members of the husband, not only against the mother-in-law but also against the petitioners, who are the maternal uncle and aunt of the husband. Allegations have also been made against the other maternal uncle and his wife, thereby naming the entire family of the husband.”

The Court further remarked that “Where the wife is set to implicate the entire family of the husband in a criminal case, it is to be expected that through her lawyer she would get a complaint properly drafted making some specific allegations against each of the family members. If only on such averment, the family members are to face agony of the trial, it would defeat the ends of the justice. In my opinion, therefore, the Court must scrutinize the complaint/FIR to determine whether the allegations are a case of clever drafting or have at least some elements of truth in the same. Though the Court is not expected to conduct a mini-trial, the Court also cannot be a mere spectator and refuse to exercise the power that is vested in it under Section 482 of the CrPC, where it finds that the continuation of such proceedings would defeat the ends of the justice and would amount to insurmountable harassment, agony and pain to the accused and be an abuse of the criminal process.”

After careful consideration of all submissions and evidence presented, the Court held in favor of the petitioners. It found the allegations vague, lacking specificity, and potentially motivated by ulterior motives. Consequently, the Court exercised its authority under Section 482 of the CrPC to quash the FIR and associated proceedings against the petitioners.

[Rajesh Aggarwal v. State NCT of Delhi, 2024 SCC OnLine Del 1828, decided on 12-03-2024]

Advocates who appeared in this case :

Mr. Manoj Taneja & Mr. Vishal Khadia, Advocates for petitioner

Mr. Shoaib Haider, APP. SI Ravi Beniwal, PS Govindpuri.

SI Saurabh Parasan, PS Malvia Nagar.

Mr. K.P. Toms & Mr. Piyush Mehra, Advs. for R-2.

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