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]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: A Division Bench of Hima Kohli and Asha Menon, JJ., while addressing a matrimonial appeal filed on behalf of the husband, held that,

Adultery can only be committed after marriage, allegation of having relationship before marriage cannot be a ground of adultery.

Petitioner being aggrieved by the Family Court’s decision of dismissal of his petition wherein he sought dissolution of his marriage with respondent 1 under Section 13(1)(i) and (ia) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, filed the present appeal.

It has been alleged that right after the marriage wife of the petitioner had started showing her disinterest in the marriage, he states that respondent 1/ wife had allegedly abused the appellant/husband and his family members and proclaimed that she had no interest in the marriage.

Further she even disclosed of having a love affair with respondent 2 and that she desired to marry him.

Late after a few months, she left with all the valuables and leaving a letter in which she stated that she will not return back and preferred to live her life with respondent 2.

However, respondent 1/wife was brought back by her brother but appellant/husband did not allow her to enter the house.

Thus, in view of the above facts, petition for divorce was filed.

Respondent’s Stand

Wife/Respondent 1 while opposing the divorce petition admitted that she had disclosed about her previous affair but claimed that it was only after long discussions with her husband and his family members.

Further she submitted that the husband’s family had started harassing and torturing her for dowry and pressurised her to bring a luxury car which she could not fulfill.

Withe regard to above letter mentioned, she submitted that her sister-in-law had compelled her to write whatever husband’s family members forced her to write and sign.

On one incident, an actual attempt was also made to kill her by pressing her neck and she was saved only because neighbours had gathered on hearing her cries.

Her in-laws hatched a conspiracy to kill her by suffocating her with a pillow. During the said incident, she had received injuries on various parts of her body. The appellant/husband and his family members thought that she might die and so, she was thrown near her parental village.

A complaint against the appellant/husband and his family members under Section 498-A, 307, 504 and 506 of Penal Code, 1860 had been filed.

Analysis and Decision

Bench while analysing the the matter noted that the appellant failed to prove his entitlement to divorce in the grounds of adultery under Section 13(1)(i) of the Act.

Further the Court observed that,

Cruelty is no doubt, not measurable as a tangible commodity, but the standard for determining as to whether a particular conduct amounts to cruelty or only to normal wear and tear of marriage, has been the subject matter of several decisions of the Supreme Court.

Cruelty

Court also relied on the Supreme Court case: V. Bhagat v. D. Bhagat, AIR 1994 SC 710, wherein the following was held:

Mental cruelty in Section 13(1)(i-a) can broadly be defined as that conduct which inflicts upon the other party such mental pain and suffering as would make it not possible for that party to live with the other. In other words, mental cruelty must be of such a nature that the parties cannot reasonably be expected to live together.

As per the incidents stated by the appellant none of them, if at all committed, amount to “cruel” conduct.

To the above, bench stated that, a new bride would be hesitant in her new surroundings in the matrimonial home.

It is always for the husband’s family to make the new bride feel at home and accepted as a family member. Therefore, such conduct of the respondent 1/wife of being interested in remaining in her room or not showing initiative in doing household work can by no stretch of imagination be described as cruel behaviour.

Thus, in Court’s opinion, Family Court’s conclusion including the observation of accusation of adultery being heaped by the appellant/husband on respondent 1/wife are without any proof.

Thus the present appeal of the husband was dismissed in the above view. [Vishal Singh v. Priya, 2020 SCC OnLine Del 638 , decided on 12-06-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Uttaranchal High Court: Alok Kumar Verma, J., allowed a bail application filed for grant of regular bail in connection with the offences punishable under Sections 302 and 120B of the Penal Code, 1860.

FIR was lodged by the father of the deceased with the allegations that his daughter was married with co-accused Shadab. Her husband demanded dowry and used to beat her.

On 16-11-2018, when his daughter was at his house her husband had come, cooked food and brought sweet meat from market and afterward added the poison in the meal of his wife the next day she was found dead. The counsel for the applicant, M.C. Bhatt and Sachin, submitted that the applicant was an innocent person and she was the sister of the accused; was just above 18 years of age she had been in custody since 07-01-2019 and six witnesses had been examined and her name was not mentioned in prosecution’s witness list and co-accused in the FIR had been granted bail by this High Court.

The Court while allowing the bail relied on the judgment of Siddharam Satlingappa Mhetre v. State of Maharashtra, (2011) 1 SCC 694 where it was held that the personal liberty is very precious fundamental right and it should be curtailed only when it becomes imperative according to the facts and circumstances of the case. [Amreen v. State of Uttarakhand, 2020 SCC OnLine Utt 129, decided on 04-03-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Gauhati High Court: Rumi Kumari Phukan, J., allowed and further disposed of the petition in view of the matter being settled outside the Court.

Facts pertaining to the present petition were that the respondent 2 lodged an FIR raising allegations of mental torture, dowry and her father-in-law outraging her modesty. Adding to the said allegations, she filed the FIR with certain other allegations against her husband and father-in-law under Section 498 (A)/ 354 Penal Code, 1860.

Further, during the course of the trial when the trial court impleaded the accused’s they all collectively came forward for quashing the entire proceedings on the ground that they have already settled the matter and the informant has no more interest to proceed with the case.

High Court noted the affidavit sworn by the respondent/wife in respect to the settlement in which it was stated that she is not willing to pursue the case as the matter was already settled amicably between the parties.

Court in the present matter noted that it was in respect to matrimonial offence and the victim herself came forward apprising about the amicable settlement, which implies that the victim/respondent will not support her case.

“Amicable settlement in a case of matrimonial offence can be allowed for the sake of social justice so as to maintain harmony in the society.”

Stating the above, the Court held that as the victim herself has buried her grievances against all the accused persons, the further proceeding will yield no result and it will be an abuse of process of law. [Hiranmoy Das v. State of Assam, 2019 SCC OnLine Gau 5018, decided on 04-11-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Uttaranchal High Court: A Division Bench of Alok Singh and Narayan Singh Dhanik, JJ. contemplated an appeal filed against the judgment passed by Additional Judge, Family Court, where the suit filed by the petitioner under Section 13 of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 was dismissed.

The background of the appeal was that the appellant-husband was married to the respondent-wife since 2009 and they had a child born out of wedlock. The appellant filed a divorce petition under Section 13 of Hindu Marriage Act, it was pleaded that soon after the marriage, relations between the parties to matrimony soured and he was treated with cruelty by the respondent. It was contended by the appellant that the respondent created nuisance at his place of work and was always quarreling, it was further alleged that she misbehaved with the in-laws and caused mental harassment to them. The appellant informed the Court that the respondent tried to commit suicide and implicated the appellant and his parents for abetting the commission of such suicide. Respondent also threatened to implicate them in the false case of torture for dowry. After such behavior of the respondent, the father of the appellant filed an FIR against the respondent. It was further alleged that the respondent left the matrimonial house and started living separately in her parental house. Ultimately the appellant and the respondent entered into a compromise and the appellant withdrew the divorce suit, but things didn’t turn out well and appellant had to file the divorce suit again on the basis of cruelty.

The respondent – wife admitted that she left the appellant’s house several times and since 2013, she was living with her parents. However, she alleged that she did on account of the misbehavior and torture by the appellant and his parents. It was further contended that the appellant wanted to use her for immoral purposes. But she refused to give him a divorce.

The Court below dismissed the suit of divorce filed by the appellant, after examining the evidences and pleadings of the parties. The suit was dismissed as reasons stated for instituting the suit and the acts alleged by the plaintiff against his wife do not come under the category of cruelty.

Counsel for the appellant contended that the Court below erred in holding that the reasons stated for instituting the suit for divorce do not come under the category of cruelty. It was also contended that it was not even pointed out as to how the evidence adduced by the appellant was in any way deficient to prove cruelty. It was further contended that on the basis of the averments made by the appellant and the evidence adduced in support thereof, the mental cruelty was clearly established and in any case the marriage has been broken down irretrievably. It was also contended that divorce in the present case should not be withheld as the parties are living separately since long which proves that their marriage has become unworkable.

Counsel for the respondent contended that general and vague allegations of misbehavior were made which were not sufficient to prove the allegation of cruelty on the part of the respondent and the Court below had rightly rejected the suit of the appellant – plaintiff.

Hence, the Court stated that reasons given by the Family Court for dismissing the suit for dissolution of marriage were not sustainable and the finding of the Court below that there was no cruelty on the part of the respondent was perverse. The Court scrutinized the evidences and observed that the pattern of misbehavior of the respondent was continuous, the duo was living separately since a very long time and an FIR was also registered against the respondent for threatening to commit suicide. Further, the Court relied upon, A. Jayachandra v. Aneel Kaur, (2005) 2 SCC 22 where the Supreme Court had expressed that “cruelty’ has been used in relation to human conduct or human behavior. It is the conduct in relation to or in respect of matrimonial duties and obligations. Cruelty is a course or conduct of one, which is adversely affecting the other. The cruelty may be mental or physical, intentional or unintentional

Court, held that the appellant had narrated a detailed story of the incidents of alleged cruelty, and hence ‘any reasonable man would find his life unbearable with his/her spouse. Cruelty can be both physical and mental. Since we are dealing with human beings and human emotions, cruelty or even ‘legal cruelty’ cannot be precisely defined.’ Thus, the judgment passed by the Family court was reversed and divorce was granted as the Court had observed that the marriage had broken irretrievably and there was no return.[Indresh Gopal Kohli v. Anita, 2019 SCC OnLine Utt 953, decided on 20-09-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Patna High Court: Ahsanuddin Amanullah, J. disposed of the petition after making minor changes to the sentence on the grounds of the imprisonment already undergone by the petitioners.

The petitioners petitioned the Court under Sections 397 and 401 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, against the judgment passed by the Additional Sessions Judge, Patna in Cr. Appeal No. 25 of 2013, by which the petitioners were convicted and sentenced and it was upheld when the appeal was made against the same. The petitioners along with four others was convicted under Section 498-A of the Penal Code and sentenced to simple imprisonment of one year and a fine of Rs 3,000 each and in default, they were to undergo further two months simple imprisonment. 

The counsel for the petitioners submitted that the opposite party  2 is the wife of the petitioner’s brother. It was submitted that the petitioners had no concern with the matrimonial dispute of the parties and the allegation was that after the birth of a male and female child and two years of marriage, they tortured and assaulted for the dowry of Rs 8,000 and took away her ornaments. It was submitted that such allegation, even if believed, could at best be attributed to husband, as the petitioners could not have any role or could not have benefited from any dowry or money which the wife of their brother would have fetched from the matrimonial home. It was submitted that the witnesses during the trial had made only ominous and general allegations and there was nothing specific against them.

The APP submitted that the witnesses had stated with regard to all the accused, including the petitioners, assaulting and torturing the opposite party 2 and it is quite believable that the petitioners being elder brothers of the husband of the opposite party no. 2, would definitely be a party to any torture or assault as their brother stood to gain from any dowry which is alleged to have been demanded.

The Court held that it did not find that the order of conviction requires any interference. However, with regard to the sentence, since the petitioners are elder brothers of the husband of the opposite party2 and had been in custody for more than six months and about four months respectively, the Court was inclined to modify the sentence to period undergone.

In view of the above-noted facts, the instant petition was disposed of after upholding the order of conviction but modifying the sentence to period undergone and the fine of Rs 3,000 set aside.[Deo Prasad Sao v. State of Bihar, 2019 SCC OnLine Pat 1612, decided on 19-09-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Punjab and Haryana High Court: Gurvinder Singh Gill, J. made absolute the interim application for bail in a matrimonial case.

An application for anticipatory bail was made by the petitioner for the offence registered under Sections 323, 325, 326, 406, 506, 498-A, 34 of the Penal Code.

The facts of the case were that FIR was registered at the instance of the petitioner’s wife wherein it was alleged that she was married to the petitioner and had a child from the wedlock. The petitioner and his family used to harass and beat her for no reason. It was also submitted that in-laws of the petitioner had retained all her jewellery articles.

Gautam Dutt, counsel for the petitioner submitted that though there was some matrimonial discord between the parties the complainant herself caused injuries to the petitioner. It was further submitted that complainant is all out to wreak vengeance and went to the extent of leveling allegations of rape against the petitioner’s father which upon inquiry by police were found to be false.

Aditi Girdhar, counsel for the state submitted that one of the injuries found on the person of the complainant has been opined to be grievous injury attracting an offence punishable under Section 325 IPC and that in these circumstances since the allegations stand substantiated, no case for grant of anticipatory bail was made out. It was informed that the alleged jewellery articles, as well as car, were recovered.

The court opined that as the petitioner had already joined the investigation and had got the articles of the dowry and thus petition was accepted and the interim directions by the court were made absolute subject to the condition that petitioner would appear before investigating officer and when called upon to do so and cooperate with the investigating officer.[Nitin Yadav v. State of Haryana, 2019 SCC OnLine P&H 1480, decided on 19-08-2019]

Case BriefsForeign Courts

Pakistan Supreme Court: A Full Bench of Manzoor Ahmad Malik, Syed Mansoor Ali Shah and Qazi Muhammad Amin Ahmed, JJ. allowed an appeal seeking acquittal of a murder charge in the absence of satisfactory evidence.

The appellant was in receipt of a guilty verdict. He was indicted for committing the murder of his wife Kausar Bibi (deceased). The said verdict was affirmed by the High Court judgment which was challenged through this appeal. Prosecution case was structured on the statement of the deceased’s brother Muhammad Arshad, according to whom, the marriage of the appellant was on the rocks as deceased had not brought a dowry to accused-appellants expectations. Upon a message by the deceased, Muhammad Arshad visited her to take her back. However, their house was attacked that night and Kausar Bibi was killed. Upon indictment, appellant blamed dacoits to have murdered the deceased.  The trial Judge convicted the appellant under Section 302(b) of Pakistan Penal Code, 1860 and sentenced him to death along with a direction to pay Rs 100,000.

Learned counsel for the appellant Nawab Ali Mayo, contended that the appellant should not be convicted merely upon his failure to satisfactorily explain as to what happened on that night. He further added that the presence of witnesses was extremely doubtful. He pleaded that it would have been unsafe to maintain conviction. Moreover, a co-accused was acquitted on the same grounds but the appellant was convicted.

Contrarily, the learned counsel for the respondent Mehmud ul Islam, vehemently defended appellant’s conviction on the ground that plea advanced by him was preposterous and was rightly rejected which in retrospect established his presence at the spot, thus there was no space to entertain any hypothesis of his innocence.

The Court observed that silence or implausible explanation could not equate with failure within the contemplation of Article 121 of Qanoon-e-Shahadat Order, 1984 which dealt with the exceptions of a case. Further, the appellant had not denied his presence, but these factors by itself could not hypothesize presumption of his guilt in the absence of positive proof. It was opined that suspicions are not a substitute for legal proof, and a suspect cannot be condemned on the basis of moral satisfaction in the absence of evidentiary certainty. Furthermore, the Court observed that convicting a co-accused on the same ground on which another accused has been acquitted, was wrong and it required immediate ratification. Thus, the Court allowed the appeal and ordered the immediate release of the appellant.[Muhammad Pervaiz v. State, 2019 SCC OnLine Pak SC 13, decided on 06-05-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Karnataka High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of K.S Mudagal, J. slammed a daughter-in-law for filing a false case of dowry against her mother-in-law and quashed the FIR registered against petitioner mother-in-law.

The instant criminal writ petition was filed under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, (CrPC) praying for quashing of FIR and chargesheet filed against the petitioner and her son by her daughter-in-law (complainant) for offences allegedly committed by them under Sections 498 A and 114 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and Sections 3 and 4 of Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961.

The petitioner was not even residing with her son and complainant daughter-in-law and so she could not have harassed the complainant. Complainant had merely stated that cash and gold was given at the time of her marriage – the same did not mean that it was given at petitioner’s behest. The Court also took note of the forum chosen by the complainant remarking that while the petitioner resided in a remote area of Andhra Pradesh, the case was filed against her in Davanagere Women Police Station. 

In view of the above and placing reliance on the dictum of Apex Court in Preeti Gupta v. State of Jharkhand, (2010) 7 SCC 667, the Court observed that proceedings against the petitioner was nothing but abuse of process of the court and continuance of the same would amount to failure of ends of justice. Therefore, the petition was allowed and proceedings against the petitioner were quashed.[Puttalakshmi v. State of Karnataka,2018 SCC OnLine Kar 1820, decided on 09-11-2018] 

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Jammu & Kashmir High Court: A Single Judge bench comprising of Sanjay Kumar Gupta, J. dismissed the petitions filed by the accused petitioner and his brother under Section 561-A CrPC, seeking quashing of charges filed against them under Sections 304-B and 498-A of the RPC.

The accused petitioner Rohit Singh married one Radha Sharma, according to Hindu rites and ceremonies on 07-03-2014. Within one year of their marriage, there arose matrimonial disputes which resulted in Radha (hereinafter referred to as the “deceased”) committing suicide by hanging herself at her in-laws’ house on 18-03-2016. Proceedings were initiated and after investigation, chargesheet was filed under Sections 304-B, 306 and 498 of RPC. The basis for filing of the aforesaid petitions was that pursuant to a deed of disinheritance executed by the accused’s father, the accused petitioner and the deceased had been living separately from her in-laws and therefore, there was no proximity between the demand of dowry and cause of death of the deceased.

The Court observed that the death in case at hand had taken place “otherwise than under normal circumstances” within two years of the deceased’s marriage at her in-laws’ house. There was evidence that the accused were demanding dowry in the form of plot and other articles from the deceased; her dead body was found hanging at her in-laws’ house; there were witness accounts seeing the accused entering and leaving the house where dead body was found; post-mortem report of deceased suggested death by asphyxia due to hanging, and ligature mark was found around her neck.

The High Court, relying on Umesh Kumar v State of Andhra Pradesh, (2013) 10 SCC 591, held that while framing of charges, the Court has to evaluate as to whether on the basis of materials and documents on record, there is a prima facie case to proceed against the accused. At this stage, the Court is not required to appreciate whether the material produced is sufficient or not for convicting the accused.

In view of the incriminating circumstances, the Court refused to quash the charges against accused. [Rohit Singh v State of Jammu & Kashmir, CRMC No. 607 of 2017, dated 14-09-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Patna High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Rajendra Menon, J., allowed an application filed under Section 482 CrPC seeking to quash the criminal proceedings pending against the applicants.

The applicants were the sister-in-law of the complainant and her husband. It was alleged by the complainant that soon after their marriage, her husband and his family started to demand dowry from the complainant and harass her. There were allegations not only against the husband but also against his father, mother, including current applicants.

The High Court found that the allegations against the applicants appeared to be very general in nature, no specific allegations were made. A perusal of the complaint shows that specific acts were attributed to the husband and his parents. However, against the applicants, there was a general omnibus allegation that they also harassed the complainant. The Court was of the view that to make a person liable under Section 498A CrPC, specific allegations of overt acts against such person are necessary. General omnibus allegations, as is the case here, do not suffice to make a person liable under the said section. Therefore, the application was allowed and the prosecution initiated against the applicants was quashed holding it to be unsustainable. [Guddi Kumari v. State of Bihar,2018 SCC OnLine Pat 1074, decided on 22-06-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madhya Pradesh High Court: In the instant case filed for the quashment of criminal proceedings initiated against the applicants under Sections 498-A and 323 of IPC and Sections 3 and 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961, the Bench of G.S. Ahluwalia, J. held that in cases related to demand of dowry, general and vague allegations cannot be treated as sufficient material to prosecute the other relatives of the husband who otherwise, do not have anything to do with the family affairs of the complainant. It was observed that in order to prosecute the other relatives in a dowry case there must be some specific allegations against them.

The second respondent filed a case of harassment for dowry against her husband and her in- laws. however she also implicated her husband’s near relatives i.e. elder brother-in-law and his wife etc. The present application was filed by the relatives of husband of second respondent claiming that they were falsely implicated merely because they are the near relatives of the accused husband. It was further submitted that no specific allegations have been made against them and only vague and omnibus allegations have been made in order to pressurize the accused husband. As these relatives of husband stand on different footing, therefore they should not be compelled to face the trial of Court unless any specific allegations have been made against them.

Considering the precedents laid down by the Supreme Court in the cases of Kans Raj v. State of Punjab, (2000) 5 SCC 207 and Monju Roy v. State of West Bengal, (2015) 13 SCC 693, the Court observed that it would not be correct to compel the applicants who are the near relatives of accused husband to face the agony of criminal prosecution on vague allegations under. The Court also stated that all general allegations leveled by the second respondent on the applicants appear to be indistinct with her only intention being to somehow prosecute and defame them. Therefore it is a clear case of over-implication on near relatives of the husband. Thus, charge-sheet and criminal prosecution of the applicants was quashed. [Sandeep Singh Bais v. State of M.P., 2017 SCC OnLine MP 394, decided on 9-03-2017]

 

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Dealing with the dowry laws, the 3-judge bench of TS Thakur, CJI and Dr. AK Sikri and R Banumathi, JJ said that giving of dowry and the traditional presents at or about the time of wedding does not in any way raise a presumption that such a property was thereby entrusted and put under the dominion of the parents-in-law of the bride or other close relations so as to attract ingredients of Section 6 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961.

Interpreting Section 6 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, the Court said that the provision lays down that where the dowry is received by any person other than the bride, that person has to transfer the same to the woman in connection with whose marriage it is given and if he fails to do so within three months from the date of the marriage, he shall be punished for violation of Section 6 of the Dowry Prohibition Act.

The Court further held that if the dowry amount or articles of married woman was placed in the custody of his husband or in-laws, they would be deemed to be trustees of the same. The person receiving dowry articles or the person who is dominion over the same, as per Section 6 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, is bound to return the same within three months after the date of marriage to the woman in connection with whose marriage it is given. If he does not do so, he will be guilty of a dowry offence under the said Section. It was further held that even after his conviction he must return the dowry to the woman within the time stipulated in the order. [Bobbili Ramakrishna Raju Yadav v. State of Andhra Pradesh, 2016 SCC OnLine SC 42,  decided on 19.01.2016]

Supreme Court

Supreme Court: Dealing with yet another case of suicide as result of dowry demands, the Court examined and interpreted the various provisions enacted to eradicate dowry, namely Sections 498A and 304B of IPC. The Court observed that an elaborate legislation such as the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 did little to curb the social menace of dowry hence the Legislature by several amendments included provisions like Sections 498A and 304B in the Penal Code. Finally the Court observed that it would not be appropriate to lessen the husband’s onus to that of preponderance of probability as that would annihilate the deemed guilt expressed in Section 304B of IPC, and such interpretation would defeat the intentions and purposes of Parliament.

The Court further observed that there is no doubt that if same word is used in the Section and in its different segments, then they should be attributed the same meaning unless a contrary situation is stated in the provision, but the opposite happens when different words of close proximity occur in the same Section, then in such circumstances it should be presumed that the intention of the Legislature was to enumerate different situations with different ramifications. Further interpreting the words ‘prove’, ‘shown’ and ‘presume’ used in the abovementioned Sections, the Court stated that the word ‘shown’ in Section 304B of the IPC connotes ‘prove’, in other words, it is for the prosecution to prove that a ‘dowry death’ has occurred. The Court further observed that the Parliament intended by using the word ‘deemed’ intended that only preponderance of evidence would be insufficient to discharge the husband or his family members of their guilt. Further interpreting ‘shown’ as in Section 304B of IPC the Court stated that the proper manner of interpreting it is that ‘shown’ has to be read up to mean ‘prove’ and the word ‘deemed’ has to be read down to mean ‘presumed’.

The present case arose after the appellant had been convicted after his wife had committed suicide as a result of cruelty that was meted out to her to bring in dowry. Ankur Mittal and Rao Ranjit represented the appellant and the respondent respectively. Sher Singh v. State of Haryana, 2015 SCC OnLine SC 23, decided on 09.01.2015