Delhi High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: The Single Judge Bench of Yogesh Khanna, J., ordered the release of a 27-year-old accused of rape on bail, as the prosecutrix has already been examined as per the requirements of Section 164, CrPC, thus there is no apprehension that the petitioner may influence the prosecutrix. The Court also pointed out that the arguments raised by the petitioner vis-a-vis delay in lodging of FIR; discrepancy in the place of incident and photographs taken thereafter and a legal notice regarding refund of ‘roka‘ expenses without there being an iota of rape allegation- such facts do make out a case for bail.

Facts of the Case: The petitioner is a businessman running a restaurant and beverage business. The petitioner and the prosecutrix met through mediators and their marriage was later fixed through the roka ceremony on 14-02-2021. At the petitioner’s birthday party, the two allegedly got intimate. It was also alleged that the prosecutrix entered into such intimacy, in order to save their relationship. The prosecutrix alleged that the petitioner demanded dowry from her. Thus, an FIR was registered alleging rape on the false pretext of marriage and demand for dowry under Sections 376/354-A/406/506/34 of IPC read with Section 4 of Dowry Prohibition Act, at Paschim Vihar West, Delhi Police Station.

It is also pertinent to mention that after the prosecutrix’s mother also issued a legal notice to the petitioner on 07-09-2021, seeking refund of the expenses incurred during the roka ceremony.

The petitioner’s bail application was already denied by the Tis Hazari Court; therefore, the High Court was approached to with the instant application.

Contentions: The State vehemently opposed the bail application on the grounds that once out, the petitioner may seek to influence the prosecutrix.

Per contra, the counsels for the petitioner argued that the petitioner is a law-abiding citizen with no criminal antecedents and the allegations of rape on the false pretext of marriage are an afterthought in as much the IO has not collected any exculpatory evidence for the same. The petitioner also contends that the legal notice to refund the expenses of roka ceremony also does not mention any allegations as to rape.

Observations: Though the Court did not give any opinion on the merits of the case, it took into consideration the facts related to the delay in lodging of FIR etc. The Court also pointed out that the prosecutrix has already recorded her deposition as per the requirements of CrPC. Hence, the Court ordered that the accused who was in custody since 27-11-2021, be released on bail during the pendency of the trial, upon execution of a personal bond of Rs. 1 Lac with surety. The petitioner was directed to not contact or threaten the prosecutrix in any way, which shall become grounds for cancellation of bail.

[Manmeet Singh v. State (N.C.T. of Delhi), 2022 SCC OnLine Del 2052, decided on 12-07-2022]


Advocates who appeared in this case :

Sanjay Vashistha, Shakir Khan, Rahul Kumar, Advocates, for the Petitioner;

Mukesh Kumar, APP for State and L.S. Saini, Advocate, for the Respondents.


*Sucheta Sarkar, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

Punjab and Haryana High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Punjab & Haryana High Court: While deciding an appeal arising from a divorce petition, the bench of Ritu Bahri, J. and Meenakshi I. Mehta, J. observed that “the facts and circumstances unequivocally speak volumes of the fact that the respondent has incessantly been filing the complaints against the petitioner as well as his family members and the petitioner even had to go behind the bars in connection with one of those complaints, resulting in harm/damage to his image and reputation in the eyes of their relatives and the society at large”.

Facts and legal trajectory of the case: The marriage between the petitioner and respondent had been solemnized according to Hindu rites and ceremonies in Chandigarh on 26-09-2014. However, soon after the marriage, the respondent allegedly started quarreling over petty issues, threatened to commit suicide multiple times, threatened to file a false case/complaint against the petitioner and his family, and on one occasion, slapped the petitioner in public. On 02-03-2015, the respondent lodged a complaint with the Crime Against Women Cell against the petitioner, his mother, sister, and uncle but later on, she made a statement before the police authorities that she did not want to pursue her complaint further. The respondent again submitted a complaint against the petitioner and his family, in pursuance of which the police had arrested the petitioner under Sections 107/151 of CrPC. and prepared a Calendra against him and his mother. In these proceedings, the petitioner had appeared before the Executive Magistrate, Ambala but the respondent did not make any statement before the said authority and subsequently, the petitioner was discharged on 18-08-2015. After this, the respondent kept filing complaints against the petitioner and his family in the Crime Against Women Cell.

On the other hand, the respondent alleged that the petitioner’s mother and sister wanted to oust her from her matrimonial home and were pitting him against her. The petitioner had also disclosed to the respondent that his mother and sister had threatened to commit suicide in case he took her back to his house. The respondent also claimed that the mother-in-law had demanded a Skoda car in dowry. On one occasion, the respondent had messaged the petitioner saying that she will commit suicide since he had left her outside on the road in the late hours of the night.

Due to such circumstances, the petitioner had filed a petition under Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 for seeking the dissolution of their marriage by way of a decree of divorce, but the trial court dismissed the petitioner. Consequently, the petitioner filed an appeal in the High Court.

Issue:

Whether the conduct of the respondent would fall within the realm of mental cruelty?

Analysis and findings:

After analyzing the witnesses and evidence on record, the court observed that “the respondent has incessantly been filing the complaints against the petitioner as well as his family members and the petitioner even had to go behind the bars in connection with one of those complaints, resulting in harm/damage to his image and reputation in the eyes of their relatives and the society at large”. The court relied on the case of Joydeep Majumdar v. Bharti Jaiswal Majumdar [2021 (2) R.C.R. (Civil) 289] and held that the respondent had subjected the petitioner to cruelty after their marriage. Even otherwise, the parties have been living separately since 26-01-2015, i.e., for more than the last seven years and therefore, their marriage can safely be termed as a ‘dead marriage’.

Subsequently, the court allowed the appeal and set aside the impugned order of the trial court. The court also allowed the petition under section 13 of the HMA,1955 and dissolved the marriage between the parties.

[Anmol Verma v. Radhika Sareen [FAO No.6969 of 2019 (O&M)], decided on 05-07-2022]

Karnataka High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

   

Karnataka High Court: Hemant Chandangoudar J. quashed the FIR against accused 5 being the woman who had illicit relations with the husband of the complainant, for the offence punishable under Section 498-A Penal Code, 1860 (‘IPC').

An FIR was filed by R2, being the legally wedded wife of accused 1 (‘the husband') for the offence punishable under Section 498-A, 506, 504 and 34 of IPC and Section 3 and 4 of Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961. The FIR was filed against accused 1 to 4 being family members of the husband and accused 5 being the woman alleged of having illicit relations with the husband.

Counsel for accused 5, in this case being the petitioner, submitted that the allegation made against the petitioner does not constitute the commission of the offences alleged and therefore, the registration of the FIR for the aforesaid offences was impermissible.

The Court noted that the only allegation against the petitioner — accused 5 is that she is having an illicit relationship with the accused 1 who is the husband of the respondent 2- complainant. Thus, the Court held that “this allegation does not constitute the commission of the offences alleged against the petitioner — accused 5 and in the absence of any essential ingredients so as to constitute the commission of the said offences, registration of the FIR against accused 5 is without any substance.”

[Shilpa SC v. State of Karnataka, Criminal Petition No. 2743 of 2017, decided on 02-06-2022]


Advocates who appeared in this case :

Nagaraj G., Advocate, for the petitioner;

S. Vishwamurthy, Advocate, for R1;

Babu Reddy, Advocate, for R2.


*Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

Chhattisgarh High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Chhattisgarh High Court: Sanjay S. Agrawal, J., reversed the judgment of the trial court and granted divorce in an application filed by the husband, while granting Rs 15 lakhs permanent alimony to the wife.

Applicant-Husband had preferred an appeal under Section 28 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 questioning the legality and propriety of the trial Court’s decision whereby the application seeking a decree for dissolution of marriage on the ground of desertion and cruelty was dismissed.

Questions for determination:

(i) Whether the Non-applicant – wife has deserted her husband since 12.08.2009 without any rhyme and reasons being assigned entitling the Applicant for the decree of dissolution of marriage on the ground of desertion under Section 13 (1) (ib) of the Act, 1955?

(ii) Whether the Non-Applicant – Wife has levelled the false allegations against her husband pertaining to the demand of dowry by lodging a false complaint under Section 498-A of IPC read with Section 4 of Dowry Prohibition Act entitling the Applicant for the decree of dissolution of marriage on the ground enumerated under Section 13 (1) (ia) of the Act, 1955?

Analysis and Decision

High Court on noting that the applicant was living with another woman, therefore, there was a reason as to why the non-applicant had started living separately from her husband.

Therefore, the husband failed to establish the fact that his wife had deserted him without any justifiable reasons so as to obtain a decree for dissolution of marriage on the ground of desertion under Section 13(1) (ib) of the Act, 1955.

Further, on close scrutiny of the wife’s statement, it was revealed that the wife was never subjected to cruelty with regard to the demand of dowry as no evidence was led by her in this regard. Hence, the alleged complaint by the non-applicant was false.

Court added that the alleged marriage of the husband and wife had irretrievably broken down and was dead for all purposes.

The husband and wife were not only living separately for over more than 11 years, but a false criminal case was also found to be lodged by the non-applicant-wife against her husband, which caused mental cruelty to him.

Therefore, the husband would be entitled to get a decree for dissolution of marriage on the ground enumerated under Section 13 (1) (ia) of the Act, 1955 and, the finding of the trial Court declining to grant a decree for divorce on the ground of cruelty was accordingly set aside and the applicant was held to be entitled to a decree for divorce under Section 13 (1) (ia) of the Act, 1955.

With regard to the alimony, Court stated that, by considering the conditions prescribed under Section 25 of the Act, 1955 relating to claim of permanent alimony/maintenance and considering further the fact that the Non-applicant – wife has no independent source of income and that by taking note of the income of the Applicant – husband as reflected and observed from the details furnished coupled with the period of marriage, the ends of justice would be served by fixing amount of permanent alimony/maintenance at Rs 15,00,000 in lump sum payable to the non-applicant wife.

In the above direction, Court added that the applicant shall be entitled to deduct the maintenance amount from the permanent alimony.

In view of the above, the appeal was allowed. [Vasudev Prajapati v. Sunita Kumari, FA (M) No. 9 of 2015, decided on 28-4-2022]


Advocates before the Court:

For Appellant: Shri Manoj Paranjpe appears along with Shri Anurag Singh and Shri Subhank Tiwari, Advocate.

For Respondent: Shri H.B. Agrawal, Sr. Advocate along with Shri Amit Tirkey, Advocate.

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madhya Pradesh High Court: Rajeev Kumar Shrivastava, J. allowed a petition which was filed to quash FIR for offence under Sections 498-A, 506, 34 of IPC and other subsequent proceedings initiated therefrom.

The complainant (herein respondent 2) along with her brother made a written complaint stating therein, that her marriage was performed with the petitioner and her father had given sufficient dowry including spent of Rs.15 lac for her marriage and had given cash of Rs.15 lac at the time of ”Tika”. After some days of her marriage, her in-laws started demanding dowry and also, committed ”marpeet” and thereafter, turn out of her in-laws house. A complaint was also made in the conciliation centre but no fruitful purpose could be served. It was further alleged that petitioner 1, 2,3 and 4 were demanding Rs. 15 lac for purchase of a flat and if she did not fulfill the same, they could not keep her in house and would kill her.

Counsel appearing for the petitioners submitted that the entire allegations are completely false and FIR itself lodged with clear motive to harass and pressurize the petitioners. It was submitted that the complainant was a quarrelsome lady and used to quarrel with her in-laws as she has no interest to live peacefully with them and even she does not want to live with her husband. The attitude as well as conduct of complainant towards her in-laws is not good since the date of marriage. On account of conduct and behaviour of complainant petitioner 1 filed a petition under Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act for dissolution of marriage before Family Court, petitioner 3 had also filed a complaint before the Court of AJCM under Sections 406, 504 of IPC against the complainant and her family and on the basis of counter-blast, the complainant had falsely lodged the present FIR against the petitioners.

The controversy involved in the present matter was as to whether impugned FIR has been lodged by complainant with a revengeful intent or only to wreck vengeance as against the petitioners or not?

The Court relied on the judgment of the Supreme Court in State of Haryana v. Bhajan Lal, 1992 Supp (1) SCC 335 wherein it has been held that where a criminal proceeding is manifestly attended with mala fide and/or where the proceedings is maliciously instituted with an ulterior motive for wrecking vengeance on the accused and with a view to spite him due to private and personal grudge, then criminal proceeding can be quashed exercising the inherent jurisdiction of the High Court under Section 482 of the Code. Similar judgment was also given by the Supreme Court in Social Action Forum for Manav Adhikar v. Union of India, (2018) 10 SCC 443.

The Court was of the view that allegations made against petitioners were general and omnibus, therefore, they cannot be prosecuted under Section 498A of IPC. It was further stated by the Court that in the case at hand, earlier a petition under Section 13 of Hindu Marriage Act was filed by husband of complainant and then a complaint was also filed by father-in-law of complainant where-after, the conciliation proceedings could not be succeeded due to difference of thoughts whatsoever between complainant and her husband. The Court believed that the FIR made by complainant was nothing, but only to wreck vengeance so also with a revengeful intent in order to pressurize and harass the petitioners.

The Court allowed the petition and held that the fact that respondent 2 had left her matrimonial home voluntarily without any rhyme and it was a fault on the part of the complainant to live separately prior to filing of the impugned FIR and in absence of specific allegation of demand of dowry or harassment, the impugned FIR deserves to be quashed.[Alok Lodhi v. State of M.P.,  2022 SCC OnLine MP 750, decided on 07-04-2022]


Shri Prasun Maheshwari, counsel for petitioners.

Shri Nitin Goyal, Panel Lawyer for respondent 1/State.

Shri Suresh Agrawal, counsel for respondent 2.


Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

Legal RoundUpSupreme Court Roundups

“No doubt, that a Judicial Officer while discharging his/her duties, is expected to be independent, fearless, impassionate and non-impulsive. But a Judicial Officer is also a human being. A Judicial Officer is also a parent. He/she could be a father or a mother. “

X v. High Court of MP

2022 SCC OnLine SC 171


STORY OF THE MONTH


Harassed, transferred, left with no choice but to resign: Read how this MP District Judge won half the battle in alleged sexual harassment case as SC orders her reinstatement

The resignation by the petitioner was on account of exasperation and frustration actuated by a thought, that injustice was being meted out to her by the very Institution of Judiciary.

The Court observed that,

“… in a gruesome battle between a mother and a Judicial Officer, the Judicial Officer lost the battle to the mother.”

Read more…


UNMISSABLE STORIES


Fraudulent Trading| SEBI must disclose all relevant material, including Investigation Report, to noticee except certain sensitive information

“If the report of the investigation authority under Regulation 9 has to be considered by the Board before satisfaction is arrived at on a possible violation of the regulations, the principles of natural justice require due disclosure of the report.”

Read more…

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Supreme Court rejects default bail plea of Rahul Modi, MD of Adarsh Group

“Filing of the charge-sheet within stipulated period is sufficient compliance u/s 167 of CrPC.”

Read more…

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Amazon-Future-Reliance Dispute| SC allows Future Group to approach Delhi HC for continuation of merger deal with Reliance Group

The 3-judge bench of NV Ramana, CJ and AS Bopanna and Hima Kohli, JJ has granted liberty to Future Retail Limited (FRL) to approach the Delhi High Court by filing an application seeking continuation of the NCLT proceedings beyond the 8th Stage i.e. Meeting of Shareholders and creditors.

Read more…

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Section 498A IPC| Husband’s relatives cannot be forced to undergo trial in absence of specific allegations of dowry demand

“A criminal trial leading to an eventual acquittal also inflicts severe scars upon the accused.”

Read more…

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Supreme Court furthers SOP for evidence recording via video-conferencing in cases related to child victims/witnesses of human trafficking

“It is well known that our country is a technological powerhouse and if we are unable to take advantage of the resources available with us and fully utilise the benefits of technology through computers and the internet for the benefit of children, our status as a technological powerhouse would be in jeopardy and would remain only on paper.”

Read more…

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POCSO Offenders Deserve No Leniency; “A Message Must Be Conveyed To The Society At Large”

“Cases of sexual assault or sexual harassment on the children are instances of perverse lust for sex where even innocent children are not spared in pursuit of such debased sexual pleasure.”

Read more…

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Bullet Train Project: Even Republic of India can’t deviate from terms and conditions of a fully foreign funded contract; SC sets aside Delhi High Court verdict

Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has invested Rs.1 lakh crores in the Bullet Train Project.

Read more…


EXPLAINERS



MORE STORIES


Not mandatory to register partition document only detailing how the properties are to be dealt with in future

The Court was deciding a case where the panchayatdars had passed an award in the form of a resolution in relation to a family property.

Read more…

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Lok Adalat Award cannot be a basis for redetermination of the compensation under Section 28A of the LA Act

An Award passed under Section 19 of the 1987 Act is a product of compromise. Sans compromise, the Lok Adalat loses jurisdiction.

Read more…

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Applications under Section 156 (3) Cr.P.C. being filed only to harass other; Filing of affidavit a must

In a case where the Magistrate had passed an order under Section 156(3) CrPC even in absence of an affidavit duly sworn by the complainant, the bench of BR Gavai* and Krishna Murari, JJ that many a times the applications under Section 156 (3) of the Cr.P.C. are filed in a routine manner without taking any responsibility only to harass certain persons and hence, such applications are to be supported by affidavits.

Read more…

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Minor penalties, without cumulative effect, are still a proof of tainted service record; Benefit of Selection Grade can’t be claimed as a right

In a case where a former employee of Rajasthan State Road Transport Corporation sought benefit of Selection Grade, 7 years after his compulsory retirement, the bench of Dr. DY Chandrachud and Surya Kant, JJ has held that the grant of the Selection Grade is not a matter of right and is subject to the stipulated terms and conditions which, in the present case, included a clean and untainted service record.

Read more…

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Merely writing “cancelled” on registered power of attorney wouldn’t make it null and void

The Division Bench of K.M. Joseph* and Pamidighantam Sri Narasimha, JJ., held that mere writing the word “cancelled” or drawing a line would not render Power of Attorney null and void as there must be cancellation and it must further be brought to the notice of the third party at any rate.

Read more…

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Law passed by legislature is good law till it is declared unconstitutional by a Court

The Supreme Court held that, the Manipur Legislature was not competent to introduce a saving clause in the Repealing Act 2018.

Read more…

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Consent decree cannot be modified/ altered unless the mistake is a patent or obvious one

“Even assuming there is a mistake, a consent decree cannot be modified/ altered unless the mistake is a patent or obvious mistake. Or else, there is a danger of every consent decree being sought to be altered on the ground of mistake/ misunderstanding by a party to the consent decree.”

Read more…

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IBC Amendment, 2018; Supreme Court elaborates conditions for disqualification of Resolution Professional under S. 29A(h) of IBC

“…what is required to earn a disqualification under the said provision is a mere existence of a personal guarantee that stands invoked by a single creditor, notwithstanding the application being filed by any other creditor seeking initiation of insolvency resolution process subject to further compliance of invocation of the said personal guarantee by any other creditor.”

Read more…

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Compassionate Appointment cannot be denied to children born from the second wife of a deceased employee

“A policy cannot discriminate against a person only on the ground of descent by classifying children of the deceased employee as legitimate and illegitimate and recognizing only the right of legitimate descendant.”

Read more…

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No Corporation/Planning Authority can be compelled to acquire an unusable or unsuitable land and be compelled to pay compensation to landowners

“Once by operation of law, the reservation is deemed to have lapsed, it is lapsed for all purposes and for all times to come.”

Read more…

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Default/Delay in payment of EPF by employer: Mens rea or actus reus not an essential element for imposing civil penalty/damages

The bench of Ajay Rastogi and Abhay S. Oka, JJ has held that any default or delay in the payment of EPF contribution by the employer under the Employees Provident Fund & Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952 is a sine qua non for imposition of levy of damages under Section 14B and mens rea or actus reus is not an essential element for imposing penalty/damages for breach of civil obligations/liabilities.

Read more…

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Advocate an officer of the Court; May be appointed by CMM/DM to assist in execution of order passed under Section 14(1) of SARFAESI Act

The Court was called upon to decide whether the past practice followed by most of the courts across the country in recognising the power of the CMM/DM to appoint an advocate as a commissioner to assist him in merely taking possession of the secured assets and documents relating thereto and to forward the same to the secured creditor, needs to be discontinued as being prohibited owing to insertion of sub-Section (1A) of Section 14 of SARFAESI Act?

Read more…

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Benefit conferred on one or a set of people, without legal basis or justification, cannot multiply and be relied upon as a principle of parity

“A principle, axiomatic in this country’s constitutional lore is that there is no negative equality.”

Read more…

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Is independent suit questioning a compromise decree maintainable or one has to approach the same Court which recorded the compromise to challenge it? SC answers

“If clever drafting of the plaint has created the illusion of a cause of action, the court will nip it in the bud at the earliest so that bogus litigation will end at the earlier stage.”

Read more…

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Bank Employees misappropriate funds. Confession by one leads to mild penalty; No evidence against another leads to dismissal! SC directs reinstatement

“A reading of the disciplinary authority’s order reveals that his past record of minor misconduct played a major role in determining his guilt, despite lack of evidence, and the extreme penalty of dismissal.”

Read more…

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Section 138 NI Act| Prima-facie indication as to complaint by a company through an authorised employee having knowledge of the case enough for Magistrate to take cognizance

The 3-judge bench of NV Ramana, CJ and AS Bopanna* and Hima Kohli, JJ has held that when the complainant/payee for a complaint filed under Section 138 of NI Act is a company, an authorized employee can represent the company. Such averment need not be in any particular manner and prima facie material is sufficient for the Magistrate to take cognizance and issue process.

Read more…

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SC discusses law on compensation for injurious affection; Summarises items under S. 23(1) of LA Act to be considered by court while determining compensation

“Railway line is not like a roadway. Roads can take diversion easily, but not railway lines.”

Read more…

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Can sale pursuant to a public auction, be set aside at the instance of strangers to the auction proceeding? SC decides

if there was any error in the decision-making process adopted by the authority, the remedy available was to question the sale deed in an appropriate proceeding available under the law and not by filing a petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India”.

Read more…

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Financier-in-possession of a motor/transport vehicle liable to pay tax under U.P. Motor Vehicles Taxation Act, 1997

While dealing with the scope of Section 12 of the U.P. Motor Vehicles Taxation Act, 1997, bench of MR Shah* and BV Nagarathna, JJ has held that a financier of a motor vehicle/transport vehicle in respect of which a hire-purchase, lease or hypothecation agreement has been entered, is liable to tax from the date of taking possession of the said vehicle under the said agreements.

Read more…

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Chased and killed in the mid night much after the altercation, even after the deceased reached his house. Cold blooded murder or  culpable homicide not amounting to murder? SC decides

In a case relating to murder versus culpable homicide legal controversy, the Division Bench of M.R. Shah* and B.V. Nagarathna, JJ., held that the Uttaranchal High Court had erred in observing that the case would fall under Fourth exception to Section 300 IPC and had failed to properly appreciate the multiple injuries sustained by the deceased.

Read more…

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Bank entitled to withhold payment where Bond holder’s title is clouded as fraudulent

“Shylock has received their promised pound of flesh but they seem to want more”

Read more…

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Is unstamped Arbitration Agreement enforceable?

Supreme Court holds question being pending before larger Bench will not hinder arbitration proceedings unless issue indicates existence of deadwood.

Read more…

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Economic Offence| 25 crores siphoned off by forging documents and misusing KYCs of employees; SC cancels Delhi HC’s order granting bail to the suspect

Mere non-misuse of liberty cannot be a ground to confirm the bail order otherwise not sustainable in law.

Read more…

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5-year moratorium on new Pharmacy Colleges: Chh HC’s interim order directing PCI to consider application for affiliation stayed; Matter to be disposed of in 4 weeks

Supreme Court imposed a stay on the Chattisgarh High Court’s interim order directing the PCI to permit the respondents to submit their application required for the necessary permission and approval and also for grant of necessary affiliation for the academic session 2022-23.

Read more…

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Post Poll Violence| Anticipatory Bail to Mamta’s Banerjee’s Election Agent SK Supiyan in murder case; Must fully cooperate in the probe

The Court made clear that the pre-arrest bail is liable to be cancelled if it is found that the appellant is not cooperating for the investigation.

Read more…

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By purchasing power at higher rate, Andhra Pradesh DISCOMS have acted contrary to public interest

“Every action of a State is required to be guided by the touch¬stone of non-arbitrariness, reasonableness and rationality. Every action of a State is equally required to be guided by public interest. Every holder of a public office is a trustee, whose highest duty is to the people of the country.”

Read more…

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Whether lotteries being res extra commercium takes away CCI’s Jurisdiction to entertain anti-competition activities relating to lotteries? SC decides

“A simple aspect of anti-competitive practices and cartelisation had got dragged on for almost ten years in what appears to be a mis-application by the High Court of the interplay of the two Acts, i.e., the Competition Act and the Regulation Act.”

Read more…

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“Debt arising out of advance payment for supply of goods or services is an operational debt”; SC allows operational creditor to initiate CIRP

“…no doubt that a debt which arises out of advance payment made to a corporate debtor for supply of goods or services would be considered as an operational debt.”

Read more…

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SC sets aside HC order for applying test of criminal proceedings to departmental proceedings

“No case for interference either on law or on moral grounds”

Read more…


IN OTHER NEWS


Supreme Court invites applications seeking conferment of designation of Senior Advocates


SUPREME COURT CASES 

[An overview of the cases reported in the latest volumes of SCC]


2021 SCC Vol. 9 Part 3

In Part 3 of Volume 9, read this very interesting decision, where the Election Commission of India (EC) had sought a direction.

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2021 SCC Vol. 10 Part 1

In Part 1 Volume 10 of 2021, read Supreme Court’s decision in Supertech Ltd. v. Emerald Court Owner Resident Welfare Assn.(2021) 10 SCC 1, wherein the Court made an observation that “illegal constructions have to be dealt with strictly to ensure compliance with the rule of law.”

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2021 SCC Vol. 10 Part 2

In this part, read three really interesting Articles along with some very carefully analysed decisions of the Supreme Court by our editors.

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2021 SCC Vol. 10 Part 3

This part has a very interesting decision from the Supreme Court, wherein the Court issued “general uniform direction” of deduction of 15 per cent of the annual school fees for the academic year 2020-2021 in lieu of unutilised facilities/activities and not on the basis of actual data school-wise.[Indian School v. State of Rajasthan, (2021) 10 SCC 517].

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2021 SCC Vol. 10 Part 4

Evidence Law, Arbitration Law, Service Law and many more interesting decisions covered in this part covering some very pertinent laws.

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2022 SCC Vol. 1 Part 1

In 2022 SCC Volume 1 Part 1, read a very significant decision of Supreme Court wherein it made a very pertinent observation with regard to arbitral awards,

“There is a disturbing tendency of courts setting aside arbitral awards, after dissecting and reassessing factual aspects of the cases to come to a conclusion that the award needs intervention …”

[Delhi Airport Metro Express (P) Ltd. v. DMRC, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 695]


 

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In a dowry demand and harassment case, where a woman had lodged criminal complaint against her husband and in-laws but  no specific role was attributed to the in-laws, the bench of SA Nazeer and Krishna Murari*, JJ has held that it would be unjust if the in-laws are forced to go through the tribulations of a trial and that general and omnibus allegations cannot manifest in a situation where the relatives of the complainant’s husband are forced to undergo trial. The Court observed that a criminal trial leading to an eventual acquittal also inflicts severe scars upon the accused, and such an exercise must therefore be discouraged.

The Court also observed that while incorporation of section 498A of IPC was aimed at preventing cruelty committed upon a woman by her husband and her in-laws, by facilitating rapid state intervention, it is equally true, that in recent times, matrimonial litigation in the country has also increased significantly and there is a greater disaffection and friction surrounding the institution of marriage, now, more than ever. This has resulted in an increased tendency to employ provisions such as 498A IPC as instruments to settle personal scores against the husband and his relatives

The Court took note of several rulings wherein the Court has expressed concern over the misuse of section 498A IPC and the increased tendency of implicating relatives of the husband in matrimonial disputes, without analysing the long term ramifications of a trial on the complainant as well as the accused. The Court has observed in those judgments that false implication by way of general omnibus allegations made in the course of matrimonial dispute, if left unchecked would result in misuse of the process of law.

“Therefore, this court by way of its judgments has warned the courts from proceeding against the relatives and in-laws of the husband when no prima facie case is made out against them.”

In the case at hand, general allegations were levelled against the in-laws. The complainant alleged that ‘all accused harassed her mentally and threatened her of terminating her pregnancy’. Furthermore, no specific and distinct allegations have been made against either of the Appellants herein

The Court observed that

“This simply leads to a situation wherein one fails to ascertain the role played by each accused in furtherance of the offence. The allegations are therefore general and omnibus and can at best be said to have been made out on account of small skirmishes.”

The Court, hence, held that allowing prosecution in the absence of clear allegations against the in-laws would simply result in an abuse of the process of law.

[Kahkashan Kausar v. State of Bihar, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 162, decided on 08.02.2022]


*Judgment by: Justice Krishna Murari

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: Sarang V. Kotwal, J., on noting that the husband and wife cannot live together and there were constant quarrels between them, granted bail to the husband who was accused under the provisions of Dowry Prohibition Act and Penal Code, 1860.

The Bench remarked that,

Applicant’s custody will not really solve the issue. Even for the purpose of investigation his custodial interrogation is not necessary. He can be asked to co-operate with the investigating agency.

The applicant sought anticipatory bail for the offences registered under Sections 498-A, 323, 504, 406, 506(2) of the Penal Code, 1860 and under Sections 3 and 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act.

Background

The applicant’s wife had lodged an FIR, wherein she submitted that the applicant’s family wanted gold coins each for their family members, but the informant and her family refused to give those. After the marriage, the in-laws uses to talk about their demands and used to cause harassment to the informant. Her sister-in-law and father-in-law used to instigate the applicant and thereafter the applicant used to insult and humiliate the informant.

There are allegations that the Applicant had inflicted some wounds on himself to show that the informant had assaulted him.

Due to the above, the informant left and started residing with her sister. Later the applicant demanded to see his child and made the false allegation to the police.

In view of the above said, the FIR was lodged.

Analysis, Law and Discussion

High noted that the FIR shows how the applicant and the informant just cannot live together. There were constant quarrels between them.

There are complaints filed by the Applicant and the informant against each other. 

Therefore, Bench held that the applicant’s custody would not really solve the issue as there are allegations and counter-allegations, which can only be decided during the trial.

Order

  • Applicant to be released on bail on his furnishing PR bond in the sum of Rs 30,000 with one or two sureties in the like amount.
  • Applicant shall attend the Police Station concerned as and when called and shall cooperate with the investigation.
  • Application stood disposed of.

[Shivek Ramesh Dhar v. State of Maharashtra, 2022 SCC OnLine Bom 220, decided on 14-1-2022]


Advocates before the Court:

Resham I. Sahni, Advocate for the applicant

A.A. Takalkar, APP for the State/Respondent

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In a case where the Madhya Pradesh High Court had held that demand of money for construction of a house cannot be treated as a dowry demand, the 3-judge bench of NV Ramana, CJ and AS Bopanna and Hima Kohli*, JJ has found the said observation erroneous and has held that the word “Dowry” ought to be ascribed an expansive meaning so as to encompass any demand made on a woman, whether in respect of a property or a valuable security of any nature.

The Unfortunate Facts

The deceased, Geeta Bai, was 18 years old when she got married on 7th May, 1998. In less than four years of her marriage, Geeta Bai committed suicide at her matrimonial home by pouring kerosene oil and setting herself on fire. She was admitted in a burnt condition in the Community Health Centre, Baroda on 20th April, 2002 and breathed her last on the same day. At that time, she was five months pregnant. While the Mother-in-law and Brother-in-law were acquitted by the Trial Court, the husband and father-in-law of the deceased were convicted under Sections 304-B, 306 and 498-A IPC and were sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for life for the first offence, RI for a period of seven years with fine for the second offence and RI for three years with fine for the third offence.

The conviction and sentence imposed on the respondents was primarily based on the evidence maternal uncles of the deceased who stated that the respondents had been demanding money from the deceased for constructing a house which her family members were unable to give. As a result, she was constantly harassed and subjected to cruelty, finally leading to her committing suicide.

The High Court gave clean chit to the father-in-law and also set aside the order of conviction in respect of the husband under Sections 304B and 306 IPC. However, his conviction was sustained under Section 498-A IPC, but the sentence of RI for three years imposed on him was reduced to the period already undergone by him on the ground that the demand of money for construction of a house cannot be treated as a demand for dowry.

Analysis

Dowry

In a three Judge Bench decision of this Court in Rajinder Singh v. State of Punjab, (2015) 6 SCC 477, Section 2 of the Dowry Act was split into six distinct parts for a better understanding of the said provision, with the first part stating,

“ Dowry must first consist of any property or valuable security— the word “any” is a word of width and would, therefore, include within it property and valuable security of any kind whatsoever.”

Since the word “dowry” takes in its ambit any kind of property or valuable security, the Court held that the High Court fell into an error by holding that the demand of money for construction of a house cannot be treated as a dowry demand.

“The Latin maxim “Ut Res Magis Valeat Quam Pereat” i.e, a liberal construction should be put up on written instruments, so as to uphold them, if possible, and carry into effect, the intention of the parties, sums it up. Interpretation of a provision of law that will defeat the very intention of the legislature must be shunned in favour of an interpretation that will promote the object sought to be achieved through the legislation meant to uproot a social evil like dowry demand.”

The Court, hence, held that the word “Dowry” ought to be ascribed an expansive meaning so as to encompass any demand made on a woman, whether in respect of a property or a valuable security of any nature.

“When dealing with cases under Section 304-B IPC, a provision legislated to act as a deterrent in the society and curb the heinous crime of dowry demands, the shift in the approach of the courts ought to be from strict to liberal, from constricted to dilated. Any rigid meaning would tend to bring to naught, the real object of the provision. Therefore, a push in the right direction is required to accomplish the task of eradicating this evil which has become deeply entrenched in our society.”

Ingredients of Section 304-B IPC

The most fundamental constituent for attracting the provisions of Section 304-B IPC is that the death of the woman must be a dowry death. Four pre-requisites for convicting an accused for the offence punishable under Section 304- B are as follows:

  • that the death of a woman must have been caused by burns or bodily injury or occurred otherwise than under normal circumstance;
  • that such a death must have occurred within a period of seven years of her marriage;
  • that the woman must have been subjected to cruelty or harassment at the hands of her husband, soon before her death; and (
  • that such a cruelty or harassment must have been for or related to any demand for dowry

Key facts

  • The respondents had been constantly tormenting the deceased and asking her to approach her family members for money to build a house and it was only on their persistence and insistence that she was compelled to ask them to contribute some amount for constructing a house.
  • The marriage of the deceased and the respondent No.1 was conducted in a community marriage organization where some couples would have tied the knot goes to show that the parties were financially not so well off.
  • Before the marriage of the deceased also, her maternal uncle used to bear her expenses and that of her mother and brother as her father had abandoned them.

Ruling on facts

The Court hence held that the High Court fell in an error in drawing an inference that since the deceased had herself joined her husband and father-in-law, respondents herein and asked her mother or uncle to contribute money to construct a house, such demand cannot be treated as a “dowry demand”. On the contrary, it observed that the evidence brought on record showed that the deceased was pressurized to make such a request for money to her mother and uncle.

“It was not a case of complicity but a case of sheer helplessness faced by the deceased in such adverse circumstances.”

The Court held that such glairing circumstances, when viewed together, can hardly mitigate the offence of the respondents or take the case out of the purview of Section 304-B IPC, when all the four pre-requisites for invoking the said provision stand satisfied, namely,

  • that the death of Geeta Bai took place at her matrimonial home within seven years of her marriage;
  • that the said death took place in abnormal circumstances on account of burning and that too when she was five months pregnant;
  • that she had been subjected to cruelty and harassment by the respondents soon before her death and
  • such cruelty/harassment was in connection with demand for dowry.

[State of Madhya Pradesh v. Jogindra, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 33, decided on 11.01.2022]


*Judgment by: Justice Hima Kohli


Counsel For State: Advocate General Prashant Singh

Kerala High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: M.R. Anitha, J., decided whether gifts given to the bride during marriage by parents be covered under ‘Dowry’ or not?

Instant petition was filed by the petitioner who was the husband of 4th respondent. The impugned order was passed by the 3rd respondent/dowery prohibition officer.

Petitioner’s counsel submitted that the petitioner married the 4th respondent as per the customs and practices prevailing among the Hindu community. After marriage, they were living together as husband and wife at the residence of the petitioner. Since the relationship got strained and 4th respondent initiated legal proceedings against the petitioner and ultimately a petition was filed before the nodal officer.

Further, the counsel’s petitioner contended that the 4th respondent’s parents and her brother had deposited all her ornaments in the bank locker, except daily use jewellery in the name of the 4th respondent and the petitioner at the Bank. The key was also in the possession of the 4th respondent alone.

Notice was issued to the 4th respondent.

Analysis, Law and Decision

Section 3 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 was referred which was with regard to “Penalty for giving or taking dowry”.

“Presents given at the time of marriage to the bride without any demand having made in that behalf and which have been entered in a list-maintained accordance with rules made under this Act will not come within the purview of Section 3(1) which prohibits giving or taking of dowry.”

 In the averments, it was stated that the ornaments given to the 4th respondent for her well-being were kept in the locker in the bank under the control of the respondents.

The Court stated that as per Dowry Prohibition Rules, 1992 on receiving a complaint, the District Dowry Prohibition Officer is bound to scrutinize the complaint and find whether it would come within the purview of Sections 2,3,6 etc. of the Act and conduct an enquiry to collect evidence from the parties about the genuineness of the complaint and upon such enquiry if it is found that dowry is received by a person other than the women, then only powers under the Act can be exercised by the District Dowry Prohibition Officer.

If the complaint is received with respect to the non-transfer of such dowry to the woman, who is entitled to it as per Section 6 of the Act, the District Dowry Prohibition Officer can issue directions to the parties to transfer the same. 

Bench further, noted that the impugned order nowhere revealed that the 4th respondent stated that gold was given as dowry by her parents as agreed or there was any such demand from the side of the petitioner for dowry.

4th respondent will get jurisdiction to pass direction under Rule 6(xv) of the Rules only if it is found that the ornaments directed to be returned to the 4th respondent are dowry received by the petitioner.

 In the absence of the above finding, the Dowry Prohibition Officer will have no jurisdiction to give a direction under Rule 6(xv).

In view of the above discussion, the impugned order passed was not sustainable in law and hence quashed.

The petitioner’s counsel also stated that his party would cooperate to take and hand over the gold ornaments gifted to the petitioner at the time of the marriage to the 4th respondent and counsel for the 4th respondent agreed to take the said ornaments from the locker in the presence of the Branch Manager.

In view of the above petition was allowed. [Vishnu v. State of Kerala, 2021 SCC OnLine Ker 5131, decided on 26-11-2021]


Advocates before the Court:

For the Petitioner:

K.P. Pradeep

Hareesh M.R.

Rasmi Nair T.

T.T. Biju

T. Thasmi

M.J. Anoopa

For the Respondents:

K.V. Anil Kumar

PP Sangeetharaj N.R.

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: While addressing a matrimonial dispute, Division bench of Vipin Sanghi and Jasmeet Singh, JJ., held that,

In cases where there are allegations of cruelty – specially mental cruelty such as Dowry Demand, violent abusive behaviour, starving the spouse of affection, resources and emotional support, there can be no set parameters that the court can follow.

Appellant (husband) filed the present appeal under Section 19 of the Family Courts Act with Section 28 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 challenging the decision whereby the petition filed by the respondent for dissolution of marriage under Section 13(1)(ia) and (iii) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 was allowed and the marriage between the parties was dissolved.

Analysis, Law and Decision

High Court noted the appellant’s contention that respondent was not a reliable witness, to which the Court disagreed and stated that the respondent substantiated and supported her claims by way of her evidence affidavit and written submissions, besides being cross-examined before the Family Court.

Court stated that pleading and evidence have to be read as a whole and no single instance can be picked and read in isolation.

Minor aberrations are normal to occur and cannot be a reason to discard the entire testimony of a witness.

Rather by way of her Evidence Affidavit, the Respondent had proved that the Appellant and his family had demanded dowry from her family -both at the time of marriage, and after the marriage and she has even placed on record email chats between herself and the Appellant establishing the same

Appellant could not disprove the above-stated dowry allegation.

Court added that numerous complaints and specific incidents of cruelty – both mental and physical, show the true conduct of the appellant, which cannot be expected in any healthy matrimonial relationship. Therefore, the appellant’s submission with regard to no instance of cruelty been established was rejected.

Bench relied on the decision Laxmi v. Kanhaiya Lal, Mat. App (FC) 5 of 2020.

Matrimonial disputes between a husband and wife cannot be expected to and are incapable of following strict parameters of evidence.

High Court expressed that,

 Matrimonial issues are generally confined to the bedroom and the matrimonial home, away from public eye and gaze. A lot of times these cases do not have any independent or impartial witnesses.

In Court’s opinion, family court correctly employed the standard of proof of preponderance of probabilities.

Family Court discussed and appreciated the evidence before it, and no perversity in the impugned judgment was found.

Bench added that, appellant was found guilty of marital cruelty and the instances could not be said to be ordinary wear and tear of day-to-day life.

The parties cohabited together only for a period of 64 days and have been living separately since 10.07.2011. It has been a decade since the parties have lived together and the entire substratum of marriage has perished.

Therefore, the continuation of marriage between the parties would cause undue harm not only to respondent/wife but also appellant/husband.

Court found complete breakdown of marriage and the marriage was beyond repair.

In view of the above, present appeal was dismissed. [Rahul Kesarwani v. Sunita Bhuyan, 2021 SCC OnLine Del 5141, decided on 1-12-2021]


Advocates before the Court:

For the appellant:

Abhey Narula, Advocate

For the respondent:

Respondent-in person

Chhattisgarh High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Chhattisgarh High Court: Rajendra Chandra Singh Samant, J., dismissed the petition being devoid of merits.

The facts of the case are such that the petitioner and respondent 5 are husband and wife who are unhappy together and want no reconciliation. An FIR has been lodged against the petitioner alleging the commission of offences under Sections 498A, 377, 323, 34 of IPC and Sections 3 and 4 of Dowry Prohibition Act. The instant petition was filed under Article 226 of Constitution of India seeking quashing the said FIR.

Counsel for the petitioners submitted that subsequent to lodging of FIR, the petitioner and respondent negotiated a compromise through a certain amount to be given to respondent 5 as there is no possibility of reconciliation and a petition for divorce will be filed and the cases will be withdrawn. It was further submitted that as the agreement still exists it is a fit case in which the FIR with respect to offences under Section 498A, 377, 323 and 34 of IPC and Section 3 and 4 of Dowry Prohibition Act is liable to be quashed.

Counsel for the State submitted that a prima-facie case is made out, which reflects the commission of offences registered against them. The offences under Section 498A, 377, 323 and 34 of IPC and Section 4 and 6 of Dowry Prohibition Act are not compoundable. There may be an agreement between the parties for settlement of the disputes, but that cannot be made a ground for quashment of the FIR against the petitioner.

Section 24 of the Contracts Act provides as follows:-

“24. Agreements void, if considerations and objects unlawful in part. —If any part of a single consideration for one or more objects, or any one or any part of any one of several considerations for a single object, is unlawful, the agreement is void.”

The Court observed that in view of the provision under Section 24 of the Contracts Act one of the terms of the agreement was that the Respondent 5 wants to withdraw the criminal complaint against the petitioner after receiving payment for the same, which cannot be regarded as any lawful term as the agreement cannot be enforced under any law.

The Court relied on Gian Singh v. State of Punjab, (2012) 10 SCC 303. and observed that “In respect of serious offences like murder, rape, dacoity, etc; or other offences of mental depravity under IPC or offences of moral turpitude under special statutes, like Prevention of Corruption Act or the offences committed by public servants while working in that capacity, the settlement between offender and victim can have no legal sanction at all. However, certain offences which overwhelmingly and predominantly bear civil flavour having arisen out of civil, mercantile, commercial, financial, partnership or such like transactions or the offences arising out of matrimony, particularly relating to dowry, etc. or the family dispute, where the wrong is basically to victim and the offender and victim have settled all disputes between them amicably, irrespective of the fact that such offences have not been made compoundable, the High Court may within the framework of its inherent power, quash the criminal proceeding or criminal complaint or F.I.R if it is satisfied that on the face of such settlement, there is hardly any likelihood of offender being convicted and by not quashing the criminal proceedings, justice shall be casualty and ends of justice shall be defeated.”

 The Court observed that the terms of agreement in the compromise may be a ground of defence for the petitioner, but that cannot be a ground for quashment of the whole criminal case against them. Without there being any reason to believe that the settlement is complete between the parties, this Court cannot hold that the continuation of proceedings will be an exercise in futility, as the respondent No.5 is intent in prosecute the petitioner and others on the basis of a complaint against them

The Court thus held that one of the charges against the petitioner is the charge under Section 377 of I.P.C. regarding commission of unnatural sexual intercourse with the respondent 5, which is a ground connected with the offence under Section 498 (A) of I.P.C. regarding imparting cruel treatment to the respondent 5 by the petitioner, therefore, after overall consideration of the facts and circumstances and the case law cited, I am of this view that this is not a fit case, in which the petitioner can be granted relief as prayed by him, therefore, this petition is dismissed and disposed off.

[Nimish Agrawal v. State of Chhattisgarh, 2021 SCC OnLine Chh 3202, decided on 25-10-2021]


Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.


Appearances

For Petitioner: Mr. Manoj Paranjpe

For respondent 01 to 04: Mrs. Hamida Siddiqui.

For respondent 05: Mr. Jaydeep Singh Yadav

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court of India: In an appeal regarding dowry death case the Division Bench of Navin Sinha and R. Subhash Reddy, JJ., granted acquittal to an old aged couple. Opining that the Courts below had failed to consider the evidences available on the standard of “beyond reasonable doubt” The Bench stated,

“Conviction of the appellants was not maintainable on a probability in absence of direct evidence. The benefit of doubt ought to have been given to the appellants.”

The instant appeal had been filed by an elderly couple, appellant 1, 77 years old and appellant 2, 69 years old who was stated to be bed ridden. The case of the appellants was that they had been wrongfully convicted under Section 498A IPC leading to three years of imprisonment with fine and a default stipulation in relation to the death of their daughter-in-law.

Counsel for the appellant, Mr. S. Nagamuthu submitted that their appeal had been dismissed by the High Court of Madras. It was further contended by the counsel that there was no evidence to support the conviction of the appellants; therefore, the Trial Court should have given benefit of doubt to the appellants. Contending that the husband of the deceased was already in custody having been convicted under Sections 304-B and 498A IPC, and there being no evidence to establish the involvement of the appellants, the counsel argued that their conviction was not sustainable in law.

On the other hand, the State opposed the appeal on the ground that the appellants were residing under the same roof. The parents of the deceased had met the appellants also and complained with regard to the harassment being meted to the deceased. The failure of the appellants to take steps to remedy the situation had made their complicity very evident. Therefore, conviction being based on concurrent findings of their complicity by two Courts the same should not be interfered.

Whether merely residing in the same house makes in-laws accomplice in a dowry death case? 

Considering the submissions made on behalf of the parties and after going through the evidence and the order of the Trial Court as well as of the High Court, the Bench opined that the allegations against the appellants were generalised in nature. Therefore, the Trial Court came to the conclusion that though they were living in a separate portion of the house, their conduct amounted to indirect harassment of the deceased.

Noticeably, while discussing that the appellants allegedly fed the ears of their son against the deceased, the conclusion of the Trial Court was that these were normal wear and tear of married life and that they probably (emphasis) added fuel to the fire. The High Court had not even bothered to discuss the nature of evidence available against the appellants and the reasoning of the Trial Court for conviction.

Hence, the Division Bench opined that the conviction of the appellants was not maintainable on a probability in absence of direct evidence. The benefit of doubt ought to have been given to the appellants. Consequently, the conviction of the appellants was set aside. Noticing that appellant 2 had already been granted exemption from surrendering on account of her medical condition, the Bench directed release of appellant 1 as well from the custody.

[R. Natarajan v. State of T.N., 2021 SCC OnLine SC 455, decided on 01-07-2021]


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has put this report together 

Appearance before the Court by:

For Petitioners: S. Nagamuthu, Sr. Adv., B. Mohanraj, Adv., K. Kanagaraj, Adv. and K. Krishna Kumar, AOR

For Respondent(s): D. Kumanan, AOR, Pulkit Tare, Adv. and M. Yogesh Kanna, AOR

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Calcutta High Court: Bibek Chaudhuri, J., expressed that, voluntary presents given at or before or after the marriage to the bride or the bridegroom, as the case may be, of a traditional nature, which are given not as a consideration for marriage but out of love, affection on regard, would not fall within the mischief of the expression ‘dowry’ made punishable under the Dowry Prohibition Act.

Appellants were convicted for committing an offence under Sections 498-A and 304-B Penal Code, 1860.

It was submitted that the de facto complainant would give a gold chain to the appellants within 6 months of the marriage of his daughter Soma with Netai Ghosh (appellant 1). immediately after marriage, the appellants started abusing Soma with filthy language. The same was conveyed by the daughter to the de facto complainant and other paternal relations. Soma’s husband also physically assaulted her.

Demand of Dowry

Later, de facto complainant came to know that his daughter Soma died consuming poison and according to him Soma committed suicide failing to bear physical and mental torture on demand of dowry inflicted upon her.

Trial judge held the appellant guilty for committing offence under Section 498A and 304B of the Penal Code, 1860.

In the instant case, the marriage of Soma was solemnized only before 44 days of her unnatural death.

Analysis and Decision

In a case of cruelty and dowry death, direct evidence is hardly available, and it is the circumstantial evidence and the conduct of the accused persons to be taken into consideration.

In the present matter, it was alleged in the FIR that the mother-in-law of the deceased used to abuse the deceased with filthy language as her father failed to give a gold chain at the time of the marriage

Allegation of cruelty and unnatural death of the deceased was made by the defacto complainant only after the death of the deceased.

Further, it is significant to note that the de facto complainant did not state in the FIR as well as in course of his evidence that the accused persons demanded dowry as a consequence of marriage.

Definition of expression “dowry” contained in Section 2 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 cannot be applied merely to the “demand” of money, property or valuable security made at or after the performance of marriage. 

Elaborating more on the concept of dowry, it was expressed that under Section 4 of the Act, mere demand of dowry is not sufficient to bring home the offence of an accused.

Any demand of money, property or valuable security made from the bride or her parents or other relatives by the bridegroom or his parents or other relatives or vice versa would fall within the mischief of “dowry” under the Act where such demand is not properly referable to any legally recognized claim and is relatable only to the consideration of marriage.

 It was noted that there was absolutely no evidence that prior to her death the witnesses being PW1, PW2, PW4 and PW5 and others try to settle the alleged dispute between the parties during the lifetime of Soma.

As per the evidence Soma was ill-tempered, therefore, if at any incident of quarrel broke between the appellants and Soma, her nature was not such that she would silently digest the allegations made against her.

Since trial Judge failed to consider the above circumstances while holding the accused persons guilty and prosecution failed to prove the cause of death of the deceased, High Court set aside the decision of trial court. [Netai Ghosh v. State of West Bengal, 2021 SCC OnLine Cal 1938, decided on 21-06-2021]


Advocates before the Court:

For the Petitioner: Younush Mondal, Adv.

For the State: Swapan Banerjee, Adv., Suman De, Adv.

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: Dinesh Kumar Singh-I, J., while discussing abetment of suicide, stated that:

“…if some act either of omission or commission results in instigation to the victim to commit suicide, that act would also be treated to be an abetment.”

Factual Background of a Woman Subjected to Torture in demand of Dowry

Informant stated that his daughter was married with accused-applicant 1 in accordance with the Hindu rites and as per demands, dowry was provided. At the time of marriage, the applicant 1 (husband), applicant 2, Om Prakash Mishra (father-in-law), applicant 3, Rakesh Mishra, (brother-in-law) started demanding four-wheeler as additional dowry because of which ‘Bidai’ of his daughter could be done.

After a lot of persuasion, the Gauna was performed and when her daughter (deceased) went to her matrimonial home, all the accused-applicants started making taunts that marriage was performed for very cheap, further it was made clear to the deceased that unless the amount asked for is fulfilled, it would be difficult for her to live in matrimonial home peacefully.

Mental and Physical Harassment

Victim was harassed mentally and physically on various occasions, she was pressurized to give her jewellery to which she refused and was beaten up by banging her head against the wall and subjected to filthy language and threat of divorce.

Victim’s husband used to increase the volume of the T.V and close the door of the house so that screaming or weeping of the deceased would not go out, even the family members of the accused-applicant 1 used to call the victim and harass her on the phone.

Accused-Applicant 1 later, dropped the deceased near the house of the informant retaining the jewellery at his home and further filed for divorce.

Suicide

Later it was stated that, since the informant’s daughter used stay disturbed mentally because of the case having been filed against her and having received notices from the Court, she used to say that despite having been tortured, she could not get any case registered against the persons of her sasural and was passing time with her child in her parents’ home and even then, she was not being allowed to remain peacefully and in these circumstances after getting fed-up, on 23-10-2017 she committed suicide by hanging herself by a stole from the ceiling fan, for which the accused- applicants are responsible.

Analysis of the Bench

The above-stated circumstances could be treated to have been driven the deceased to commit suicide which could have taken to fall in the category of abetting the commission of suicide by the deceased.

Court expressed that:

Merely because the deceased died at the parent’s house, is being hammered as the main argument on the part of the applicant, to be the reason why abetment to commit suicide should not be taken to be established in this case even prima-facie.

Bench relied upon the Supreme Court’s decision in Guru Charan Singh v. State of Punjab, (2020) 10 SCC 200, wherein it was held that in order to give finding of abetment under Section 107, which is necessary to sustain the conviction of abetment of suicide under Section 306 IPC, it must be established that the accused instigated a person either by an act of omission or commission or by persistent cruelty or harassment.

Circumstances or atmosphere in the matrimonial home without the instigation of suicide being established in someway are not enough to sustain the conviction on abetment of suicide.

 Conclusion

In the instant case, Court noted that it came on record that various litigations had been thrust upon the deceased from the side of the accused-applicants which might have generated a situation in which deceased found no way out but to commit suicide.

Bench stated that it may tour out to be not finally proved that the applicants were involved in the commission of this offence but in proceedings under Section 482 CrPC:

this Court cannot give finding in this regard as the evidence, which is likely to be recorded before the trial court, the said evidence would be appreciated by the said court then only finding can be returned on this point.

While dismissing the application, Court held that if the applicants appear and surrender before the Court below within 30 days and apply for bail, then the bail application would be considered and decided in view of the law laid down by this Court in Amrawati v. State of U.P.,2004 (57) ALR 290, as well as a judgment passed by Supreme Court in Lal Kamlendra Pratap Singh v State of U.P., (2009) 4 SCC 437.

In case, the applicants do not appear before the Court below within 30 days period, coercive action shall be taken against them. [Kranti Mishra v. State of U.P., 2021 SCC OnLine All 81, decided on 22-01-2021]


Advocates for the parties:

Counsel for Applicant: Shailesh Kumar Shukla, Rajiv Lochan Shukla

Counsel for Opposite Party: G.A., Akhilesh Kumar

Case BriefsHigh Courts

The parents together are a young child’s world. It is together that they groom him into his youth. It is together that they ensure the overall development of his personality in its myriad facets.

But marriage, like life, sometimes takes an unpleasant turn, where the spouses could turn into an estranged couple. 

It is in this situation that the Court, in the exercise of its parens patriae jurisdiction, called upon to perform the onerous task of keeping the young child’s world, as much together as can be. 

Allahabad High Court: J.J. Munir, J., observed that

What is important while deciding the issue of custody between two natural guardians, is where the minor’s welfare would be best secured. The statute indicates a preference for the mother, so far as a child below five years is concerned.

The instant petition was filed for a writ of habeas corpus, instituted by Master Anav’s mother, the first petitioner, asking the Court to liberate the minor from his father’s custody by entrusting the minor into hers, is about a young child’s devastating world.

Petitioner 1 states that during her stay with her husband, she was tortured physically and mentally, both. Her mother even gave dowry.

Later, petitioner 1 realised that her husband had an amorous relationship with her sister-in-law and another girl from the village to which she objected in vain. She was even forced to abandon the marriage and go back to her mother’s home.

The discord between parties was mediated by kinsmen, which resulted in what Meenakshi claims to be a mutual divorce.

Further, it was stated that Meenakshi after the above settlement went back to her mother’s home along with her young son, Anav. After some time petitioner 1 claimed that there was an unholy alliance between Meenakshi’s brother, Sunny and her estranged husband with two making it common cause to oust her minor son from her mother’s home.

While Ram Narayan wanted his son to stay with him, Sunny who is arrayed as the respondent 6 to this petition, wanted the child out of his mother’s home, where Meenakshi stays, because he thought Meenakshi may claim a share for her son in her ancestral property.

In light of the above motive, Meenakshi was beaten up and her son was snatched away, leading to locking up Meenakshi.

Later Anav was handed over to Meenkashi’s husband.

Analysis and Decision

Bench observed that the mother of the minor came up with serious allegations about her son being kidnapped by force by her brother and being delivered into her husband’s custody.

Court found no tangible evidence in regard to the child being forcibly removed from mother’s custody.

The minor is a young child of tender years. He is just four years old. The Court did not find him capable of expressing an intelligent preference between his parents, in whose custody, he would most like to be.

Amongst many things that this Court noticed is the fact that the father is not, particularly, interested in raising the minor.

A perusal of the settlement between the parties contained clause wherein it was specifically stated that the minor, Anav, then aged two and a half years, would stay in his mother’s custody.

The above-stated discloses the disinclination of the father to bear a whole-time responsibility for the minor’s custody and the complementary inclination of the mother to take that responsibility.

Mother’s right and that of the father, under Section 6(a) as to guardianship has been considered at par by the Supreme Court in Githa Hariharan v. Reserve Bank of India, (1999) 2 SCC 228.

So far as custody goes, as distinct from guardianship, between the two natural guardians, the mother is to be preferred by virtue of the proviso to Section 6(a) of the Act of 1956, in the case of a child below five years of age.

Bench observed the Supreme Court Decision in Ratan Kundu v. Abhijit Kundu, (2008) 9 SCC 413, wherein it was held that

A court while dealing with custody cases, is neither bound by statutes nor by strict rules of evidence or procedure nor by precedents. In selecting proper guardian of a minor, the paramount consideration should be the welfare and well-being of the child.

Court added to its observation in custody matters that,

But, the general rule about custody of a child, below the age of five years, is not to be given a go-by. If the mother is to be denied custody of a child, below five years, something exceptional derogating from the child’s welfare is to be shown.

Bench noted that nothing on record was placed where it could be stated that the mother was unsuitable to raise the minor. Court found that the mother in the present case is more educated than the father.

Adding to the above, Court also stated that:

The mother, being found fit to have the minor’s custody, it cannot be the best arrangement to secure the child’s welfare, or so to speak, repair his devastated world. He must have his father’s company too, as much as can be, under the circumstances.

This Court must, therefore, devise a suitable arrangement, where the minor can meet his father in an atmosphere, that is reassuring and palliative. The father must, therefore, have sufficient visitation while the minor stays with his mother.

Hence, the habeas corpus writ petition was allowed in view of the above discussion. [Meenakshi v. State of U.P., 2020 SCC OnLine All 1475, decided on 02-12-2020]


Advocates who represented the parties in the matter:

Counsel for Petitioner:- Sushil Kumar Sharma, Mohit Kumar

Counsel for Respondent:- G.A., Amar Nath, Shravana Kumar Yadav

Telangana High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Telangana High Court: K. Lakshman, J., addressed an issue in the criminal petition in light of Section 41-A of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 and the essence of quashing criminal proceedings was thrown light upon by citing the Supreme Court decision in Kamal Shivaji Pokarnekar v. State of Maharashtra, (2019) 14 SCC 350.

The present application sought to quash proceedings pending against the petitioners wherein they were accused of the offences alleged under Sections 498-A, 406 and 420 read with Section 34 of Penal Code, 1860 and Sections 3 and 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961.

Petitioners Counsel submitted that petitioner 1 and daughter of respondent 2 — de facto complainant married in the USA and registered their marriage. Petitioner 2 is the father of petitioner 1. Petitioner 3 is the mother of petitioner 1.

It has been stated that the de facto complainant implicated the petitioners herein in this false case due to matrimonial disputes between his daughter and accused 1. 

Adding to the above, counsel stated that the punishment prescribed for the offences alleged against the petitioners is seven years and below seven years and the police without following the procedure laid down under Section 41-A of CrPC, is trying to apprehend the petitioners. In the said course of action, the police have been calling petitioners 2 and 3 who are other aged parents of petitioner 1-accused 1, suffering from various old-age ailments.

In view of the above, petitioners sought to quash the same.

In Supreme Court’s decision of Kamal Shivaji Pokarnekar v. State of Maharashtra, (2019) 14 SCC 350, it was held that:

“…quashing of criminal proceedings is called for only in a case where the complaint does not disclose any offence, or is frivolous, vexatious, or oppressive. If the allegations set out in the complaint do not constitute the offence of which cognizance has been taken by the Magistrate, it is open to the High Court to quash the same.”

“It was further held in the very same judgment that on perusal of the complaint, if discloses prima facie offences that are alleged against the respondents, it is sufficient. The correctness or otherwise of the said allegations has to be decided only in the trial. At the initial stage of issuance of process, it is not open to the Courts to stifle the proceedings by entering into the merits of the contentions made on behalf of the accused.”

Bench stated that in the present case, certain aspects need to be investigated by the investigating officer.

It is trite to note that the punishment prescribed for the offences alleged against the petitioners is imprisonment of seven years or below seven years.

Court disposed of the criminal petition directing the Station House Officer to follow the procedure laid down under Section 41-A of the CrPC and also the guidelines issued by the Supreme Court in Arnesh Kumar v. State of Bihar, (2014) 8 SCC 273.[Prudhvi Nallamanikaluva v. State of Telangana, 2020 SCC OnLine TS 1291, decided on 19-10-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: A Division Bench of Z.A. Haq and Amit B. Borkar, JJ., while allowing the present criminal application filed under Section 482 of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 observed the tendency in the society wherein the relatives of husband are also roped in with vague allegations under Section 498-A of Penal Code, 1860.

In the instant matter, both husband and wife started living separately from sister-in-law and brother-in-law of the husband after their marriage.

Due to quarrels between the non-applicant 2 and her husband, non-applicant 2 filed an FIR with Police Station, which was compromised. On a later date, non-applicant 2 again lodged a complaint with the Women Cell.

Further, the husband of non-applicant 2 filed a complained alleging harassment caused by parents and brother of non-applicant 2.

Non-applicant 2 approached the Judicial Magistrate and filed an application under Section 156(3) of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 and, then the non-applicant 1 lodged FIR against the applicants. The said FIR has been challenged in the present application.

Women Cell i.e. non-applicant 1 submitted that the investigation was complete and there is a prima facie case against the applicants.

Wife i.e. non-applicant 2 contended that the applicants along with her husband harassed her for dowry and there were several complaints filed by her with the Police Station as and when harassment was caused.

Senior Advocate, Anil S. Mardikar along with S.G. Joshi, Advocate, represented the applicants; M.K. Pathan Additional Public Prosecutor for the non-applicant 1 –State and M.N. Ali, Advocate for the non-applicant 2.

Analysis & Decision

In light of adjudicating the present issue, bench considered it necessary to refer Section 498-A of Penal Code, 1860:

498-A. Husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty – whoever, being the husband or the relative of the husband of a woman, subjects such woman to cruelty shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine.

Explanation – For the purpose of this section, “cruelty” means-

(a) Any willful conduct which is of such a nature as is likely to drive the woman to commit suicide or to cause grave injury or danger to life, limb or health (whether mental or physical) of the woman; or

(b) Harassment of the women where such harassment is with a view to coercing her or any person related to her to meet any unlawful demand for any property or valuable security or is on account of failure by her or any person related to her to meet such demand.”

Cruelty perpetuated to the woman may be physical or mental.

Bench stated that saying, “we are also serving in the police and we have connections with the higher Authorities, or the husband of the non-applicant 2 got no benefit of the education of the non-applicant 2” cannot be stated to be cruelty to the woman.

Nowadays, it has become a tendency to make vague and omnibus allegations, against every member of the family of the husband, implicating everybody under Section 498-A of the Penal Code.

It is necessary for the Courts to carefully scrutinize the allegations and to find out if the allegations made really constitute an offence and meet the requirements of the law at least prima facie.

Bench further cited the following decision of the Supreme Court:

G. Sagar Suri v. State of U.P., (2000) 2 SCC 636, wherein it was observed that the criminal proceedings should not be allowed to be resorted to as shortcut to settle the score.

Indian Oil Corpn. v. NEPC India Ltd., (2006) 6 SCC 736, in this case, Supreme Court deprecated the tendency of using the criminal justice system as a tool of arm twisting and to settle the score, and laid down that the High Court can intervene where the criminal justice system is used as a tool.

Kailash Chandra Agrawal v. State of U.P., (2014) 16 SCC 551, an observation was made that tendency, which has been developed for roping in all relations of the in-laws by the wife in the matter of dowry deaths or such type of similar offences in an over-enthusiasm and anxiety to seek conviction needs to be deprecated.

In the present case, sisters-in-law and brother-in-law were arraigned as accused without there being specific allegation as regards the nature of cruelty, as contemplated by Section 498-A IPC against them.

In view of the impugned FIR and charge-sheet, Court opined that no allegations against the applicants constitute offences alleged.

Therefore, the criminal application was allowed in view of the above-stated.[Shabnam Sheikh v. State of Maharashtra, 2020 SCC OnLine Bom 1752, decided on 15-10-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: Dr Kaushal Jayendra Thaker, J., addressed a matter with regard to the settlement of divorce proceedings.

Parties in the present petition have deposed before the Court below that they have entered into a compromise.

Hence, in view of the above, the petition is taken for final disposal.

It has been observed that certain offences were non-compoundable and they were within the power of Magistrate to compound namely under Sections 498-A of Penal Code, 1860 and 3/4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act.

Section 498A: Husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty.—Whoever, being the husband or the relative of the husband of a woman, subjects such woman to cruelty shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine

Section 3: Penalty for giving or taking dowry

Section 4: Penalty for demanding dowry

Further, it was noted that both the parties, i.e. the husband and wife and other family members settled the matter and decided to leave in peace after taking divorce.

The Court was of the view that the settlement between the parties should be accepted and the offence compounded. The decision of the Supreme Court in Bitan Sengupta v. State of W.B., (2018) 18 SCC 366 was referred.

Therefore, proceedings were quashed and settlement was recorded under Section 482 CrPC. In Supreme Court’s decision in B.S. Joshi v. State of Haryana, (2003) 4 SCC 675, it was observed that in matrimonial offences, it becomes the duty of the Court to encourage genuine settlement of matrimonial disputes.

Bench exercising its powers under Section 482 read with 397 of CrPC, 1973 permitted the parties to leave in peace.

Section 482 CrPC: Saving of inherent powers of the High Court.

Nothing in this Code shall be deemed to limit or affect the inherent powers of the High Court to make such orders as may be necessary to give effect to any order under this Code, or to prevent abuse of the process of any Court or otherwise to secure the ends of justice.

Section 397 CrPC: Calling for records to exercise of powers of revision

(1) The High Court or any Sessions Judge may call for and examine the record of any proceeding before any inferior Criminal Court situate within its or his local jurisdiction for the purpose of satisfying itself or himself as to the correctness, legality or propriety of any finding, sentence or order, recorded or passed, and as to the regularity of any proceedings of such inferior Court, and may, when calling for such record, direct that the execution of any sentence or order be suspended, and if the accused is in confinement, that he be released on bail or on his own bond pending the examination of the record.

Explanation.—All Magistrates, whether Executive or Judicial, and whether exercising original or appellate jurisdiction, shall be deemed to be inferior to the Sessions Judge for the purposes of this sub-section and of Section 398.

(2) The powers of revision conferred by sub-section (1) shall not be exercised in relation to any interlocutory order passed in any appeal, inquiry, trial or other proceedings.

(3) If an application under this section has been made by any person either to the High Court or to the Sessions Judge, no further application by the same person shall be entertained by the other of them.

Court quashed the proceedings under Section 397 CrPC and allowed the petition.

The petitioner’s counsel pointed the orders passed by the Court below and hence the bench defied the proceedings if not yet defied. [Deena Nath v. State of U.P., 2020 SCC OnLine All 1057, decided on 23-09-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Karnataka High Court: A Division Bench of B.A. Patil and Hanchate Sanjeevkumar, JJ., upheld the decision of the trial court with regard to dowry death.

By the instant criminal appeal, the decision of the Additional Sessions Judge, Gulbarga has been challenged.

Counsel for the appellant-accused: Iswaraj S. Chowdapur and Additional State Public Prosecutor for respondent – State: Prakash Yeli.

Dowry | Cruelty

Parents of Dattamma at the time of the marriage had given one tola of gold as dowry. After one year of when the dowry was given, the accused started subjecting Dattamma to cruelty contending that she doesn’t know how to cook and used to ask her to bring cash and gold from her parent’s house.

The said fact of cruelty was conveyed by Dattamma to her parents who along with some elderly persons visited the accused and paid a sum of Rs 5000, but he continued to subject Dattamma to mental and physical cruelty.

Later the accused poured kerosene and lit fire on Dattamma with the intention to commit murder. Afterwhich, she was taken to the hospital and sustained burn injuries.

In view of the above-stated offence, the trial court had convicted the accused.

Analysis and Decision

Bench while analysing the set of circumstances and submission placed stated that,

When the prosecution establishes its case with regard to ill-treatment and harassment said to have been caused by the accused and admittedly the death of the decased has also taken place within 7 years after the marriage, under such circumsatnces, a duty cast upon the Court to draw a presumption under Section 113 A of the Evidence Act that is dowry death.

Demand of Dowry

In the present matter, Court relying on the proposition laid down in the decision of C.M. Girish Babu v. CBI, (2009) 3 SCC 779, held that the prosecution has established that there was ill-treatment and harassment caused by the accused for the demand of dowry.

Trial Court has rightly convicted the accused for the offences punishable under Section 498-A and 302 IPC and also under Section 3 of the Dowry Prohibition Act.

Accused’s Counsel contended that the imprisonment itself is harsh and severe punishment under such circumstances the imposition of a heavy fine to a poor agriculturist is not justifiable and it is excessive fine which ought not to have been imposed.

In view of the above stated, Court modified the fine imposed on the accused.

The sentence imposed by the trial court for the offences punishable under Sections 498A and 302 of IPC and under Section 3 of the Dowry Prohibition Act was confirmed. [Baswaraj v. State of Karnataka, Criminal Appeal No. 354 of 2013, decided on 10-08-2020]


Also Read:

Cruelty to Women [S. 498-A IPC and allied sections]