6 Jun 2023 7:15 AM GMT
The Karnataka High Court has dismissed a petition filed by a husband seeking to quash the complaint registered by his wife under section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code, after he sent her a legal notice seeking amicable settlement for dissolution of marriage.A single judge bench of Justice M Nagaprasanna observed,“There cannot be a declaration of law as is contended by the learned counsel...
The Karnataka High Court has dismissed a petition filed by a husband seeking to quash the complaint registered by his wife under section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code, after he sent her a legal notice seeking amicable settlement for dissolution of marriage.
A single judge bench of Justice M Nagaprasanna observed,
“There cannot be a declaration of law as is contended by the learned counsel for the petitioner that once the divorce notice is sent by the husband, the complaint registered by the wife thereafter loses its significance. If this contention is accepted, it would have a chilling effect on all the complaints. Therefore, this submission is noted only to be rejected, as it is fundamentally flawed.”
The wife left the matrimonial house after alleged torture. Thereafter the husband sent her a legal notice in October 2022, seeking amicable settlement and resolution of the dispute between for the purpose of dissolution of marriage. Later, in December, the wife registered a complaint against the petitioner under Sections 498A, 307 and 506 of the IPC and Sections 3 and 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961.
The primary contention of the husband was that the complaint is a counterblast to his legal notice and no ingredients of offences under Section 498A IPC are made out. He argued that in light of the husband sending a notice for divorce and the immediate registration of crime thereafter, the crime loses its significance.
On going through the complaint lodged by the wife the bench found there are several alleged instances of torture by the husband against wife, both mental and physical. The wife also narrated that the husband attempted to take her life by strangling her and she had to take treatment for spinal cord injury.
Based on this, the bench was of the view that prima facie offences alleged are made out and they are to be investigated. It said, “The statements recorded during investigation clearly indicate that those ingredients are prima facie met. Section 307 of the IPC is also alleged against the petitioner. The complaint clearly makes out ingredients of the offence under Section 307 of the IPC which deals with attempt to murder. Strangulation and giving blows on the back is what is alleged in the complaint. If these ingredients are to be ignored and brushed aside merely because the complaint is registered immediately after receipt of the notice of divorce or amicable settlement for dissolution of marriage, it would lead to a disastrous effect.”
Court explained that in a given case, if the allegations of torture are made over a period of time, the husband issuing a notice for divorce simultaneously or immediately before the complaint will not result in the complaint rendering itself insignificant. "It would require investigation. It would be altogether a different circumstance if the complaint does not even make out ingredients of the offence so alleged or does not lay down the necessary foundation for alleging the offences in a given case,” Court said.
Then the bench agreed that there are many cases where members of the family are unecessarily dragged into the web of crime by the wife while registering the complaint invoking Section 498A of the IPC. However, the allegations have to be considered on a case to case basis. It disagreed with the coordinate bench judgment which held that FIR should be quashed on the sole ground that the crime is registered after receipt of a notice seeking dissolution of marriage. The bench said, “It defeats the very object of Section 498A of the IPC, or even complaints made under Section 12 of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005.”
Noting that the purpose in introducing chapter XX-A bringing in Section 498A in the Indian Penal Code was with the objective to prevent torture to a women by her husband or by the relatives of the husband, Court said,
“If the aforesaid hyper-technical contention is accepted, it would act against the interests of women and the object for which the provision was added. The enactment of the legislature with the aforesaid purpose cannot be rendered illusory by a declaration that the complaint would lose its significance for the reason that it is registered immediately after the receipt of a notice of divorce from the hands of the husband. Therefore, the declaration of law made by the co-ordinate Bench can at best be held to be applicable and restrictable, to the facts obtaining in the said case.”
Also Read: Criminal Case Filed By Wife Accusing Husband, In-Laws Of Cruelty Loses Its Significance If Lodged After His Divorce Notice: Karnataka High Court
Case Title: Pramod R S And State of Karnataka
Case No: CRIMINAL PETITION No.1511 OF 2023
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Kar) 205
Date of Order: 02-06-2023
Appearance: Advocate Yashswini S for petitioner.
HCGP Mahesh Shetty for R1.
Click Here To Read/Download Judgment