The Gwalior Bench of Madhya Pradesh High Court on Friday (24th July) observed that the petition in the nature of Habeas Corpus should be filed only in genuine cases.
The bench of Justice G. S. Ahluwalia was hearing a case where the petitioner claimed that his wife is in illegal confinement of her parents i.e. respondent No. 4 to 13.
Background of the Case
A petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India was filed before the High court in the nature of habeas corpus. The main allegation was that the wife of the petitioner is in illegal confinement of the private respondents no. 4 to 13 (parents of the wife of the Petitioner) since January 2019.
It was further submitted that the marriage (between the Petitioner and his wife) was performed on 18-4-2018, but in the month of January 2019 his wife went to her parental house and informed that she does not want to come back, therefore, the petitioner-husband filed an application under Section 9 of Hindu Marriage Act (for restitution of conjugal rights).
However, even after this, the wife of the petitioner did not agree to come back to her matrimonial house; therefore, the petitioner-husband withdrew the application filed under Section 9 of the 'Hindu Marriage Act'.
Thereafter, an application under Section 13-B of 'Hindu Marriage Act' was filed for grant of divorce by mutual consent. However, it was alleged before the High court that the wife of the petitioner is not appearing before the Court.
Surprisingly, it was submitted by the counsel for the petitioner that the petitioner has been informed by a close relative (who doesn't want to be named) that in fact the wife of the petitioner wants to reside with the petitioner, but she is in illegal confinement of her parents i.e. respondent No.4 to 13.
Accordingly, it was submitted before the court that the wife of the petitioner maybe directed to appear before the Court so that she may make a statement.
The order of the Court
The bench observed that,
"The petition in the nature of habeas corpus should be filed in those cases where the corpus is in illegal confinement/custody of the respondents. In order to settle the civil disputes of the parties, the writ of habeas corpus cannot be entertained and it is a clear misuse of (the) lawful authority of this Court." (emphasis supplied)
The court acknowledged the fact that "the petitioner had filed an application under Section 9 of Hindu Marriage Act but he ultimately withdrew the same. According to the petitioner, his wife also did not appear even in the proceedings under Section 13-B of Hindu Marriage Act for grant of divorce by mutual consent."
The order of the court further observed,
"The wife of the petitioner is undisputedly residing with her parents for the last more than one year. It cannot be said that the wife of the petitioner is in their illegal confinement. Why the petition filed under Section 9 of Hindi Marriage Act was withdrawn is not known to this Court and the petitioner has already withdrawn an effective and efficacious remedy, which was available to him." (emphasis supplied)
Accordingly, the High court was of the considered opinion that the petitioner has failed to prima facie satisfy the Court that the Petitioner's wife is in illegal custody/confinement of her parents (respondent No.4 to 13).
It is important to note that recently Orissa High Court (bench of Justice S. K. Panigrahi) has held that "Any effort to settle a civil dispute which does not involve any criminal offence, by applying pressure through criminal prosecution should be discouraged."
This observation was made by the Orissa High Court in a case in which the petitioner was accused of cheating a co-villager with whom he had a business relationship for 15 years.
Also, last year the Supreme Court had observed that filing of a criminal complaint for settling a dispute of civil nature is an abuse of process of law.
Case Title: Neerendra Singh Rana v. State of Madhya Pradesh
Case No.: WP No. 10212/2020
Quorum: Justice G. S. Ahluwalia
Appearance: Advocate Rishikesh Bohare (for the petitioner); Advocate Anmol Khedkar (for the State).
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