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Stridhan Cannot Be Retained By Family Of Husband On Annulment Of Marriage: Karnataka High Court

Mustafa Plumber
14 Jun 2022 9:53 AM GMT
Stridhan Cannot Be Retained By Family Of Husband On Annulment Of Marriage: Karnataka High Court
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The Karnataka High Court has said that annulment of marriage cannot mean that all the articles that woman carried to the matrimonial house can be retained by the family of the husband.

A single judge bench of Justice M Nagaprasanna refused to quash the criminal proceedings initiated by the ex-wife under section 406 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), against her former husband and in-laws.

The bench said, "The undisputed fact is that Stridhana of Rs.9 lakhs was paid to the petitioner and his family and that amount which is retained by them would necessarily be a matter for trial against the petitioners for offence punishable under Section 406 of the IPC and it is for the petitioners to come out clean in the trial."

The petitioner, Ganesh Prasad Hegde and his parents had questioned the order dated March 31, 2015 by which, cognizance was taken by the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate at Bangalore and the order dated March 22, 2018 dismissing the application of the petitioners seeking discharge from proceedings initiated by his ex-wife for offences punishable under Section 406 of the IPC.

It was submitted by the Petitioner that nothing is left to be paid to the respondent as it was agreed upon for divorce that the permanent alimony was to be in full and final settlement towards annulment of marriage. The High Court of Bombay in Family Court Appeal had clearly indicated that the marriage between the 1st petitioner and the respondent was dissolved by mutual consent towards which permanent alimony of Rs.4/- lakhs was paid.

The issue that was left open was with regard to claim of maintenance and, therefore, would submit that there cannot be an offence for criminal breach of trust in the teeth of the order passed by the High Court of Bombay.

The Respondent on the other hand submitted that the permanent alimony of Rs.4 lakhs did not contain the said amount which was paid prior to marriage. The petitioners, after divorce, cannot hold on to Stridhana which was given on two occasions one Rs.4 lakhs and the other Rs.5 lakhs and would submit that it does amount to criminal breach of trust for not returning the money despite notice being issued to them.

Findings:

The bench went through the records and the details of the different proceedings initiated by the parties and the marriage dissolution order passed by the High Court of Bombay. It then noted, "In all the aforesaid proceedings what can be unmistakably gathered is that annulment of marriage did take place on the settlement between the parties for an amount of Rs.4/- lakhs."

Placing reliance on the judgment of the Supreme Court and other High Courts on the concept of Stridhan and its retention being an ingredient of Section 406 of the IPC, the bench said "The amount involved in the lis is Rs.9 lakhs which according to the complainant had been paid as Stridhan in the year 1998. With the settlement entered into between the parties seeking annulment of marriage as permanent alimony, the amount of Rs.9, lakhs that was paid at the time when the respondent was given in marriage to the 1st petitioner was a separate and distinct Stridhana."

It added, "Annulment of marriage takes place on a settlement arrived at Rs.4 lakhs to be in full and final settlement. No judicial fora have determined this amount to include Rs.9 lakhs of Stridhan as this was never the claim in the divorce proceedings between the parties. The settlement was arrived at only for the purpose of annulment of marriage."

Following which it opined, "Annulment of marriage cannot mean that all the articles that the the respondent carried to the matrimonial house can be retained by the family of the husband."

Accordingly it dismissed the petition.

Case Title: GANESH PRASAD HEGDE & Others v SUREKHA SHETTY

Case No: CRIMINAL PETITION No.4544 OF 2018

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Kar) 208

Date of Order: 06TH DAY OF JUNE, 2022

Appearance: Advocate S.BALAKRISHNAN for petitioners; Advocate SHAILAJA AGARWAL, a/w Advocate PRADEEP NAYAK, for respondent

Click Here To Read/Download Order


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