'They Aren't Supposed To Be Beneficiary Of Dowry Demand': Allahabad HC Grants Relief to Sisters-In-Law Implicated In 498A IPC Case

Sparsh Upadhyay

6 Jan 2024 9:24 AM GMT

  • They Arent Supposed To Be Beneficiary Of Dowry Demand: Allahabad HC Grants Relief to Sisters-In-Law Implicated In 498A IPC Case

    In a criminal proceeding initiated at the instance of a wife against her sisters-in-law (accused) for the offence of cruelty under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code, the Allahabad High Court recently granted relief to the accused as it noted that they are not supposed to be beneficiary of any demand of dowry. A bench of Justice Ram Manohar Narayan Mishra observed thus while allowing...

    In a criminal proceeding initiated at the instance of a wife against her sisters-in-law (accused) for the offence of cruelty under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code, the Allahabad High Court recently granted relief to the accused as it noted that they are not supposed to be beneficiary of any demand of dowry.

    A bench of Justice Ram Manohar Narayan Mishra observed thus while allowing a revision plea challenging the order of an Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate in Gorakhpur rejecting the discharge application of the accused (sisters-in-law) filed under Section 245 CrPC.

    β€œThe court below, while dismissing the discharge application has failed to notice the role of the revisionists and the probability of their false implication, as these are married sisters-in-law of the complainant who are stated to have been living at far away place during the period when offence of matrimonial cruelty and demand of dowry was practised against the complainant,” the Court noted as it directed the Magistrate to consider their discharge plea afresh.

    The case in brief

    The complainant, Alka Rani, initially moved an application under Section 156 (3) Cr.P.C. before the Court of Judicial Magistrate Ist Gorakhpur in August 2004 with averments that her marriage with one Rajesh Agarwal was solemnized in April 2002 according to Hindu rites and rituals.

    In her complaint, she cited instances of matrimonial cruelty and dowry demands by her in-laws including her mother-in-law, brother-in-law, and sisters-in-law. It was specifically averred in the complaint that her sisters-in-law (Lakshmi Poddar and Sunita Tulsyan/accused persons/revisionists) and other family members exerted pressure on her to get her pregnancy aborted.

    The court below, in August 2004, directed to register her application under Section 156 (3) CrPC as a complaint case and after recording the statement of the complainant and her witnesses, the court summoned the accused persons for charges under Section 498A, 323, 504, 506, 406 of 3 IPC and Section 3/5 of Dowry Prohibition Act.

    Accused persons (the in-laws of the complainant and her husband) moved an application under Section 245 CrPC in October 2022 with a prayer to discharge them with averment that they have been falsely implicated in the case, however, finding sufficient evidence against them, the Court dismissed their discharge plea.

    Challenging the same, the revisionists (Sisters-in-law) moved the instant revision plea arguing that were already married at the time of the marriage of the complainant and their brother and they were already living in Calcutta (Shikha Poddar) and Thane (Sunita Tulsyan) and hence, they could not have subjected her to harassment. 

    It was further claimed that omnibus and general allegations have been levelled against them in the complaint only to harass them, as they are sisters of the husband of the complainant.

    It was also argued that no specific allegation had been made against them and that they were not supposed to be beneficiaries of any demand of dowry made by the husband or his immediate family as alleged.

    On the other hand, the counsel appearing for respondent No.2/complainant submitted that the revisionists, although married, played an active role in the harassment and torture of the complainant and they were also hand in grove with co-accused persons in demand of dowry and subjecting the complainant to matrimonial cruelty.

    High Court's observations

    At the outset, the Court noted that it was an admitted fact that they (sisters-in-law) were married before the marriage of their brother and the complainant and that even though the complainant had stated in her evidence that her sisters-in-law are greedy people and used to visit her matrimonial home and gave her beating, and all the accused persons got her pregnancy aborted, no medical evidence in support of this version was adduced by the complainant.

    In this regard, the Court also referred to the Judgments of the Supreme Court in the cases of Kahkashan Kausar @ Sonam Vs State Of Bihar 2022 LiveLaw (SC) 141 and Geeta Mehrotra & Anr vs State Of U.P. & Anr wherein the apex Court had taken note of the grave situation where all the family members and relatives of husband are roped in complaint under Section 498 of IPC by way of the general and omnibus allegation made in course of matrimonial dispute.

    Consequently, noting that while dismissing the discharge application, the Court below had failed to notice the role of the revisionists and the probability of their false implication, as these are married sisters-in-law of the complainant who are stated to have been living at a faraway place during the period when the offence of matrimonial cruelty and demand of dowry was practised against the complainant, the Court allowed the revision plea and directed the magistrate concerned to hear their discharge plea afresh.

    Case title - Lakshmi Poddar @ Shikha Poddar And Another vs. State of U.P. and Another

    Case Citation: 2024 LiveLaw (AB) 3

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