498A- Vague And General Allegations Not Sufficient To Implicate The Distant Relatives Of Husband: Bombay HC [Read Judgment]
The Bombay High Court has observed that in cases where overt acts are attributed to persons other than the husband, such accusations need to be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.
The division bench of Justice TV Nalawade and Justice KK Sonawane at Aurangabad was hearing an application under Section 482 of the CrPC for quashing of FIR registered under Sections 498-A, 354, 323, 504 and 506 read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code.
The application was filed by complainant Shilpa Chavan against her husband Nikhil Chavan, his parents and other relatives.
According to the prosecution, the complainant approached Beed City Police Station on March 20, 2019, and gave a statement that her marriage with Nikhil was solemnized on April 20, 2018. After the marriage, she joined her matrimonial home which was a joint family of her in-laws and others. According to the complainant, she was treated well initially for about one month after the marriage. Thereafter, she visited her parents on the occasion of the festival of 'Dhonda' (Adhikmas).
Shilpa's husband came to fetch her from her parent's home and then the couple returned to their matrimonial home. But, Shilpa's in-laws used to scold her for not bringing any gold ornaments from her parents on the occasion of "Dhonda" festival. Shilpa stated in her complaint that her husband and in-laws insisted that she get Rs.2 lakh from her parents.
Thereafter, the complaint states that Shilpa's father-in-law "attempted to indulge in the activities of molestation of daughter-in-law the complainant Shilpa. But, she refused to yield his advances. There were continuous torture and harassment to the wife on account of unlawful demand of money. Eventually, the circumstances constrained wife Shilpa to approach to the Police to lodge report."
Appearing on behalf of the applicants, Advocate Sanghamitra Wadmare submitted that the complaint was based on false accusations made by Shilpa against the applicants. He said that there were no specific allegations about maltreatment and torture to complainant Shilpa on the part of applicants. All the allegations were general and vague in nature.
Furthermore, three of the applicants (No. 4 to 7) who are also accused in the case are the distant relatives residing separately from husband and in-laws of complainant Shilpa. They had no any reason to cause any interference in the marital life of spouses, Wadmare said.
After hearing all submissions, Court was reluctant to quash proceedings against Nikhil Chavan and his parents (Shilpa's in-laws), so Advocate Wadmare sought leave to withdraw proceedings with regard to Nikhil and his parents. Leave was granted and application under S.482 regarding the above three was withdrawn.
With regard to proceedings against the relatives, Court observed-
"In regard to allegations nurtured against applicants No. 4 to 7, we find that allegations cast on behalf of complainant Shilpa against these distant relative are vague and general in nature. There are no specific allegations in regard to their overt-act for maltreatment and harassment to the complainant Shilpa. There were no detail particulars given in the FIR about participation or role played by these applicants No. 4 to 7 for their act of humiliation or insult to the complainant on account of her character. The allegations about scolding, etc. on the part of applicants No. 4 to 7 all are stray and sweeping in nature."
The bench then referred to a few judgments of the Supreme Court, relevant to the present case.
In Kansraj Vs. State of Punjab and others, Apex Court observed –
"a tendency has, however, developed for roping in all relations of the in-laws of the deceased wives in the matters of dowry deaths which, if not discouraged is likely to affect the case of the prosecution even against the real culprits."
"in their overenthusiasm and anxiety to seek conviction for maximum people, the parents of the deceased have been found to be making efforts for involving other relations which ultimately weaken the case of the prosecution even against the real accused."
In Arnesh Kumar Vs. State of Bihar and another, Apex Court observed-
"Section 498-A of IPC is a cognizable and non-bailable offence has lent it a dubious place of pride amongst the provisions that are used as weapons rather than shield by disgruntled wives. The simplest way to harass is to get the husband and his relatives arrested under these provisions"
Consequently, the division bench noted -
"In the cases, where accusations are made, the overt-acts attributed to persons other than husband, are required to be proved beyond reasonable doubt.
In the matter in hand, it would unjust and improper to allow the prosecution to proceed against applicants No. 4 to 7. It would be a futile effort and cause injustice to them. It would also dissipate the precious time of Court of law. The ends of justice would be served by ensuring that the applicants may not be forced unnecessarily to go on litigations before the Criminal Court."
Thus, proceedings against the relatives were quashed and set aside.