21 Aug 2023 2:30 PM GMT
The Calcutta High Court on Monday, quashed two criminal complaints filed by a wife (“opposite party no 2"), against her husband and in-laws (“petitioners”), on various counts of domestic violence, attempted murder, criminal intimidation, etc. under the IPC. In noting that the medical evidence on record, as well as witness statements did not corroborate with the opposite party no...
The Calcutta High Court on Monday, quashed two criminal complaints filed by a wife (“opposite party no 2"), against her husband and in-laws (“petitioners”), on various counts of domestic violence, attempted murder, criminal intimidation, etc. under the IPC.
In noting that the medical evidence on record, as well as witness statements did not corroborate with the opposite party no 2’s version of events, a single-bench of Justice Subhendu Samanta quashed the criminal proceedings, and held:
“The allegation of physical and mental torture in both the cases appears to be general and omnibus. The ingredients of the offence specifically the statement of available witnesses does not disclose any specific prima facie materials by which the present petitioner can be entangled for the offences u/s 498A IPC. Case diary included a medical prescription wherein no injury in the person of Banashree is found. The statement of available witnesses recorded by the investigating officers also not supporting the case of the complainant regarding the direct evidence of torture. The legislature has enacted the provision of Section 498A to strike out the dowry menace from the society. But it is observed in several cases that by misusing of said provision new legal terrorism is unleashed. Harassment and torture enumerated in the definition of security u/s 498A cannot be proved solely by the defacto complainant. The direct allegation against the husband by the de-facto complainant is merely from the version of the de-facto complainant herself. It support no documentary or medical evidence. The proceeding are instituted only to fulfil personal grudge. Considering the circumstances I think it necessary to invoke the inherent power of this court to quash the proceedings otherwise the continuation of the criminal proceedings would be tantamount to the abuse of process of court.”
These observations came in a criminal revision petition for quashing of proceedings, filed by one Dwaipayan Das and his parents, who were accused of domestic violence by opposite party no 2, who had been married to Dwaipayan since 2017.
The petitioners argued that the criminal proceedings initiated by the opposite party were “purposive, harrassive and palpably frivolous,” since she had never resided with her in-laws since marriage, and had subsequently filed a matrimonial suit for divorce in 2018, which had been decreed ex parte in her favour.
Petitioners submitted that the proceedings initiated by the complainant were completely baseless, displaying a clear abuse of the provisions of criminal law since no materials or evidences were found to justify allegations under s498A IPC.
It was argued by the state that the police had filed their charge-sheet in both cases and that such proceedings could be quashed at the present stage, due to a prima facie case being made out.
Upon hearing the parties and perusing the case diaries in both the cases, the Court noted that during investigation in the cases, the police had recorded various witness statements, none of which corroborated the story being told by the opposite party No 2.
In quashing the criminal cases against the petitioners and holding that the present case ‘filed out of personal grudge’ was not fit for the invocation of s498A of the IPC, the Court laid down the parameters for the same, and held that none of those thresholds had been met. It opined:
The basic allegation of offence punishable u/s 498A of IPC has some specific ingredients they are:-
1. Married woman was subjected to cruelty.
2. Such cruelty consisted in a) in lawful conduct as was likely to drive such women to commit suicide or to cause grave injury or danger to her life, limb or health whether mental or physical.
b) harm to such women with a view coercing her to me unlawful demand for property or valuable security or on account of failure of such woman or not of her relations to him the lawful demand.
c) the women was subjected to such cruelty by her husband or any relation of her husband. Thus to substantiate an offence punishable u/s 498A of IPC the prosecution has to prove the above mentioned ingredients.
I am of a view that the instant criminal proceedings initiated by the de-facto complainant against the husband and in-laws does not disclose prima facie offence against them as alleged. Considering the circumstances I think it necessary to invoke the inherent power of this court to quash the proceedings otherwise the continuation of the criminal proceedings would be tantamount to the abuse of process of court.
Case: Dwaipayan Das Vs. State of West Bengal & Anr. & connected application.
Coram: Justice Subhendu Samanta
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Cal) 230
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