Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Vibhu Bhakru, J. dismissed a criminal appeal filed against the trial court whereby the appellant was convicted for offences punishable under Sections 498-A (husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty) and 306 (abetment of suicide) of the Penal Code.

H.S. Sharma, Advocate for the appellant, submitted that the appellant could not be held guilty under Section 498-A as the trial court had found that there was no material to establish that the accused or his family members had demanded any dowry. Per contra, Amit Gupta, APP, supported the order of the trial court.

The High Court noted that though the allegations of demand of dowry against the appellant were not proved, the allegations that the appellant used to beat the deceased (his wife) were well substantiated by the evidence on record. It was noted further that a note written in the handwriting of the deceased was the principal piece of evidence on which the appellant’s conviction was based. A plain reading of the note indicated that the appellant was not happy with the deceased giving birth to a female child, and she feared for her and her daughter’s life.

Admittedly, the appellant was habitual of consuming ganja that led to quarrels between him and the deceased. It was also evident that the appellant used to beat the deceased. The High Court observed: “The contention that the appellant could not be convicted under Section 498-(a) IPC as the trial court had not accepted the allegation of demand of dowry, is unsustainable. Clause (a) of Section 498-A IPC refers to offensive conduct of nature so as to drive a woman to commit suicide. It is not necessary that such offensive conduct is in connection with the demanded dowry. The note was written by the deceased clearly indicates that the conduct of the appellant had led her to fear for her life and that of her girl child. She had eventually taken her own life.”

Further, it was held that the contention that the appellant could not be held guilty under Section 306 IPC was also unmerited. Reference was made to Section 113-A (presumption as to abetment of suicide by a married woman) of the Evidence Act. The Court observed: “There is a statutory presumption that if an accused is found guilty of the offence of cruelty under Section 498-A IPC and the wife of the appellant has committed suicide within seven years of her marriage, it would be presumed that the appellant was guilty of abetting the commission of suicide. The presumption is a rebuttable presumption and it was open for the appellant to lead evidence to rebut the same. However, the appellant has failed to do so. The appellant led no evidence to dispel the said presumption.”

In such view of the matter, the appeal was dismissed. [Rohit Gupta v. State, 2019 SCC OnLine Del 10670, decided on 21-10-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madhya Pradesh High Court: S.K. Awasthi, J., dismissed the petition filed by the petitioner under Section 482 CrPC for quashing the maintenance order passed by the Additional Principal Judge.

The respondent filed an application under Section 125 CrPC to claim maintenance from the petitioner as she was forced to live in her parental house on account of cruelty by the husband. She had claimed that the petitioner was harassing her for the demand of dowry. She registered a criminal case against her husband and his family members for offences punishable under Sections 498-A, 294, 323 and 506 IPC. She also pleaded that she was unable to maintain herself as she does not have any source of income. The Family Court had allowed the application of the respondent and had directed the petitioner to pay interim maintenance taking into account the income of the petitioner’s father and brother.

The petitioner contended the respondent was living separately on her own will, as she did not want to live with his in-laws. He stated that this was the only reason why she left his house and lodged a complaint against him and his family members regarding the demand of dowry and harassment. He further claimed that he was still a student studying in B.Ed. and is dependent on the income of his parents, whereas the respondent was well educated and had obtained a Post Graduate Degree of M.Com., and had an independent source of income through tuition and was capable of maintaining herself. The respondent argued that the petitioner was living in a joint family and his father had agricultural land and was engaged in the business of seed and fertilizer. The petitioner was also involved in the said business and therefore had sufficient source of income to pay for the maintenance.

The Court held that a husband is duty-bound to make arrangement for maintenance of the wife. The respondent was legally wedded wife of the petitioner and she was residing separately from him and his family members as they used to harass her for the demand of dowry. The petitioner did not deny the criminal cases pending against him. Therefore, prima facie the respondent was living separately with a reasonable cause.

Therefore the respondent was duty-bound to make arrangement for the maintenance of his wife. He has not denied the fact that he lived in a joint family with his father and brother and was also involved in the family business of seed and fertilizer, which indicated that he had sufficient source of income.[Dhruv v. Sapna, 2019 SCC OnLine MP 2079, decided on 20-08-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Patna High Court: Ahsanuddin Amanullah, J. dismissed an application filed under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 praying for quashing of cognizance taken against petitioner, in a case pertaining to demand of dowry and torture therefor.

Petitioner, along with eight others, was charged with offence of torture, assault, demand of dowry and conspiracy to kill the opposite party 2 (daughter-in-law of the petitioner herein). In a complaint case filed by opposite party 2, the learned Sub-Divisional Judicial Magistrate passed an order taking cognizance of offences under Sections 323, 498-A of Penal Code, 1860 and Sections 3 and 4 of Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961. Aggrieved thereby, the instant application was filed praying for quashing of the said order.   

Learned counsel for the petitioner, Sanjay Kumar Ojha, contended that the opposite party 2 did not reside in the matrimonial home and she had got divorced from the petitioner’s son in 2011.

Learned Assistant Public Prosecutor, Jharkhandi Upadhyay contended that the matrimonial case wherein divorce was granted to opposite party 2, was filed in the year 2010 while the complaint case in question was filed in 2004. Thus, the opposite party 2 was still the petitioner’s daughter-in-law when the complaint case was filed. Hence, the petitioner’s main contention of divorce was of no relevance. Further, the cognizance order in complaint case, was passed in the year 2003, i.e., ten and a half years ago, which made the application unfit for consideration. 

The Court noted that the complaint case was of the year 2004 and the order of cognizance was also of the same year. Thus, the present application, filed in the year 2015, challenging cognizance order of the year 2004 was clearly unfit to be entertained on the ground of gross delay and laches. Further, the main contention of the petitioner that her son and opposite party  2, were already divorced, was of no consequence, as the matrimonial case (for divorce) was filed in the year 2010 by opposite party 2; and that itself was proof of the fact that she was tortured in the matrimonial home. 

In view of the above, it was held that the cognizance order did not suffer from any infirmity, and it did not warrant any interference by the Court in exercise of its inherent power under Section 482 CrPC.[Sushila Devi v. State of Bihar, 2019 SCC OnLine Pat 653, decided on 13-05-2019]