Madhya Pradesh High Court
Sanjay Sthapak vs The State Of Madhya Pradesh
on 16 January, 2020
Author: Jagdish Prasad Gupta
1 M.Cr.C No.10044/2019 HIGH COURT OF MADHYA PRADESH, PRINCIPAL SEAT AT JABALPUR (SINGLE BENCH : HON'BLE SHRI JUSTICE J.P.GUPTA) M.Cr.C No.10044/2019 Sanjay Sthapak & 4 others Vs. State of M.P & another Shri Ashutosh Joshi, learned counsel for the applicants. Shri Brijesh Kumar Dubey, learned G.A for the respondent no.1/State Shri Beerendra Kumar Upadhyay, learned counsel for the respon- dent no.2. Whether approved for reporting : (Yes/No). O R D E R
(16.01.2020) This petition under section 482 of the Cr.P.C has been preferred for quashment of the proceeding of the Criminal Case No. 389/2018 pending before the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, Punasa, District Khandwa under section 498A read with section 34 of the IPC.
2. The facts giving rise to this petition are that the marriage of the respondent no.2 with applicant no.1 was sole- manized on 31/05/2017, and applicant no.2 is brother of the applicant no.1, and applicant no.3 is mother of the applicant no.1 and applicant no.4 is grand mother of the applicant no.1 and applicant no.5 is sister of the applicant no.1 and after the M.Cr.C No.10044/2019 marriage, the accused persons started harassing the respon- dent no.2 in connection with demand of dowry and on provocation and support of them for aforesaid demand of dowry, the applicant no.1 used to beat her and on account of afore- said harassment. About the aforesaid act of the applicants she told her parents and brother and sister on phone and thereafter the applicant no.1 send her with her brother to her parental house and not prepared to keep her in the materimo- nial house without fulfillment of the demand of dowry. On 28/10/2018 the respondent no.2 lodged FIR at police station Mandhata, District Khandwa, where Crime No. 291/2018 under section 498A read with section 34 of the IPC was regis- tered and after investigation, the charge sheet was filed and criminal case is pending before the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, Punasa, District Khandwa and for the quashment of the aforesaid criminal proceeding, this petition has been filed.
3. Learned counsel for the applicant submitted that the aforesaid proceeding is not in accordance with the law and in this case prima facie there is no sufficient material to prosecute the applicants for commission of the aforesaid of- fence. It is counter blast action as the applicant no.1 filed divorce petition against the respondent no.2 before filing of the FIR, as the respondent no.2 was unable to adjust in the matrimonial house with the applicant no.1 and other family mem- bers and she insisted and wanted to remain in the matrimo- nial house without doing any work and remained ideal and lithergic and disobey the instructions of elder persons of the house and making quarrel. Before filing of the petition for di- vorce the matter was also placed before the District Level Pariwar Paramarsh Kendra, Khandwa, where the respondent no.2 and her parents and brother also appeared and their statements were also recorded. They have not narrated that the applicants were demanding dowry and on account of the demand of the dowry, they harassed the respondent no.2 and there is no specific allegation with regard to the demand of the dowry and harassment and only omnibus general allegations have been made just to implicate all family members with malafide intention to achieve ulterior motive for wreak- ing vengeance, therefore the criminal proceeding be quashed.
4. Learned counsel appearing on behalf of the respondent no.2 as well as learned counsel for the State have opposed the aforesaid contentions and submitted that the truthfulness of the facts can’t be considered at this stage and material available with the charge sheet are sufficient to prosecute the applicants for commission of the aforesaid of- fence. Hence this petition be dismissed.
5. Having considered the contentions of learned counsel for the parties and on perusal of record it is found that in the FIR there is no specific allegation with regard to the demand of the dowry and harassment and only omnibus statement have been made against all accused persons and when the matter was placed before the District Level Pariwar Paramarsh Kendra, Khandwa the statements of respondent no.2, and her brother Akash and mother Smt. Lata were recorded on 28th September, 2018 in which there is no whisper of demand of dowry and harassment on account of non- fullfilment of the aforesaid demand and the dispute was re- lated to non-adjustment or non-cooperative attitude of the respondent no.2, which is not unusual. It also appears that on behalf of the applicant no.1 divorce petition was filed before the Family Court, Khandwa on 19/09/2018 and notice was served before 25th October, 2018 and thereafter on 28/10/2018, the FIR was lodged, this fact reflects that it is counter blast of the action taken by the applicant no.1. Apart from it, the allegation in the FIR are so absurd and inherently improbable, on the basis of which no prudent man can ever reach to the just conclusion that there is just reasonable ground for proceeding further against the applicants.
6. There is no dispute about the legal preposition that the truthfulness of the facts mentioned in the FIR and the charge sheet can’t be adjudicated at this stage but if the avernment is omnibus and not sufficient and not probable and do not prima facie constitute any offence and the proceeding is started to achieve the ulterior motive for wreaking vengeance, as counter blast the same can’t continue and this Court under section 482 of the Cr.P.C is duty bound to set aside such proceeding.
7. The Three-Judge Bench of the Apex Court in the case of Inder Mohan Goswami Vs. State of Uttaranchal (2007)12 SCC 1 has observed in para 24 of the said judg- ment, which is as under:-
“24.Inherent powers under section 482 Cr.P.C. though wide have to be exercised sparingly, carefully and with great caution and only when such exercise is justified by the tests specifically laid down in this section itself. Authority of the court exists for the advancement of justice. If any abuse of the process leading to in- justice is brought to the notice of the court, then the Court would be justified in preventing injustice by invoking inherent powers in absence of specific provisions in the Statute.”
8. Now days it is general tendency to implicate in- laws by the wife in case of demand of dowry just to take re- venge on account of bitterness emerged on account of non- adjustment in the materimonial house. The provision of sec- tion 498A of the IPC is not for that purpose. The Apex Court in Bhaskar Lal Sharma & another vs. Monica [(2009) 10 M.Cr.C No.10044/2019 SCC 604] in which the Apex Court considering the judgment of the Apex Court in Sushil Kumar Sharma vs. Union of India [(2005) 6 SCC 281] it is held that :-
“10. The object for which Section 498-A IPC was introduced is amply reflected in the Statement of Objects and Reasons while enacting the Criminal Law (Second Amendment) Act 46 of 1983. As clearly stated therein the increase in the number of dowry deaths is a matter of serious concern. The extent of the evil has been commented upon by the Joint Committee of the Houses to examine the work of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961. In some cases, cruelty of the husband and the relatives of the husband which culminate in suicide by or murder of the helpless woman concerned, constitute only a small fraction involving such cruelty. Therefore, it was proposed to amend IPC, the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (in short ‘CrPC’) and the Evidence Act suitably to deal effectively not only with cases of dowry deaths but also cases of cruelty to married women by the husband, in-laws and relatives. The avowed object is to combat the menace of dowry death and cruelty.
19. The object of the provision is prevention of the dowry men- ace. But as has been rightly contended by the petitioner many in- stances have come to light where the complaints are not bona fide and have been filed with oblique motive. In such cases acquittal of the accused does not in all cases wipe out the ignominy suffered during and prior to trial. Sometimes adverse media coverage adds to the misery. The question, therefore, is what remedial measures can be taken to prevent abuse of the well-intentioned provision. Merely because the provision is constitutional and intra vires, does not give a licence to unscrupulous persons to wreak personal vendetta or unleash harassment. It may, there- fore, become necessary for the legislature to find out ways how the makers of frivolous complaints or allegations can be appropriately dealt with. Till then the courts have to take care of the situation within the existing framework. As noted above the object is to strike at the roots of dowry menace. But by misuse of the provision a new legal terrorism can be unleashed. The provision is intended to be used as a shield and not as an assassin’s weapon. If the cry of ‘wolf’ is made too often as a prank, assistance and protection may not be available when the actual ‘wolf’ appears. There is no question of the investigating agency and courts casually dealing with the allegations. They cannot follow any straitjacket formula in the matters relating to dowry tortures, deaths and cruelty. It cannot be lost sight of that the ultimate objective of every legal system is to arrive at the truth, punish the guilty and protect the innocent. There is no scope for any precon- ceived notion or view. It is strenuously argued by the petitioner that the investigating agencies and the courts start with the presumptions that the accused persons are guilty and that the complainant is speaking the truth. This is too wide and generalised a statement. Certain statutory presumptions are drawn which again are rebuttable. It is to be noted that the role of the investigating agencies and the courts is that of a watchdog and not of a bloodhound. It should be their effort to see that an innocent person is not made to suffer on account of unfounded, baseless and malicious allegations. It is equally undisputable that in many cases no direct evidence is available and the courts have to act on circumstantial evidence. While dealing with such cases, the law laid down relating to circumstantial evidence has to be kept in view.”
9. The Apex Court in Preeti Gupta vs. State of Jhark- hand [(2010) 7 SCC 667] held that:-
32. It is a matter of common experience that most of these com- plaints under Section 498-A IPC are filed in the heat of the mo- ment over trivial issues without proper deliberations. We come across a large number of such complaints which are not even bona fide and are filed with oblique motive. At the same time, rapid increase in the number of genuine cases of dowry harass- ment is also a matter of serious concern.
10. The Apex Court in Geeta Mehrotra and another vs. Stae of Uttar Pradesh [(2012)10 SCC 741] held that :-
20. Coming to the facts of this case, when the contents of the FIR are perused, it is apparent that there are no allegations against Kumari Geeta Mehrotra and Ramji Mehrotra except casual refer- ence of their names which have been included in the FIR but mere casual reference of the names of the family members in a matrimonial dispute without allegation of active involvement in the matter would not justify taking cognizance against them overlooking the fact borne out of experience that there is a ten- dency to involve the entire family members of the household in the domestic quarrel taking place in a matrimonial dispute spe- cially if it happens soon after the wedding.
11. Hon’ble the Apex court in the recent judgment, Rajesh Sharma and ors. vs. State of U.P. And anr., passed in criminal appeal no. 1265/2017 dated 27.7.2017 as ob- served in para 14, as under :-
“14. €Section 498-A was inserted in the statute with the laudable object of punishing cruelty at the hands of husband or his relatives against a wife particularly when such cruelty had potential M.Cr.C No.10044/2019 to result in suicide or murder of a woman as mentioned in the statement of Objects and Reasons of the Act 46 of 1983. The ex- pression “cruelty” in Section 498A covers conduct which may drive the women to commit suicide or cause grave injury (mental or physical) or danger to life or harassment with a view to coerce her to meet unlawful demand. It is a matter of serious concern that large number of cases continue to be filed under already re- ferred to some of the statistics from the Crime Records Bureau. This Court had earlier noticed the fact that most of such com- plaints are filed in the heat of the moment over trivial issues. Many of such complaints are not bona fide. At the time of filing of the complaint, implications and consequences are not visualized. At times such complaints lead to uncalled for harassment not only to the accused but also to the complainant. Uncalled for ar- rest may ruin the chances of settlement”.
12. In view of the aforesaid enunciation of law and in the facts and circumstances of the case, in view of this Court, the instant petition deserves to be allowed as in the aforesaid circumstances if the proceedings continued against the applicants, it would amount to abuse of the process of the court and would cause grave injustice to the applicants. In the circum- stances, this petition is allowed and the proceedings of the Criminal Case No. 389/2018 pending before the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, Punasa, District Khandwa is hereby quashed.
13. A copy of this order be sent to the court concerned for information and compliance.
(J.P.Gupta) JUDGE TARUN Digitally signed by TARUN tarun/ KUMAR SALUNKE DN: c=IN, o=HIGH COURT OF MP, ou=GOVERNMENT, KUMAR postalCode=482002, st=Madhya Pradesh, 220.127.116.11=19a265290eb7f6307d4 a64122959af56e05e3d1d609e0f SALUN d1051d7f6331251f99, serialNumber=0e7afab970b523 fc5e1fd370da00347dabfa96b26 cbffd08773a847c03d3115c, KE cn=TARUN KUMAR SALUNKE Date: 2020.01.17 14:06:13 +05’30’ M.Cr.C No.10044/2019 HIGH COURT OF MADHYA PRADESH, PRINCIPAL SEAT AT JABALPUR (SINGLE BENCH : HON’BLE SHRI JUSTICE J.P.GUPTA) M.Cr.C No.10044/2019 Sanjay Sthapak & 4 others Vs.
State of M.P & another ORDER Post for : __/01/2020 (J.P.GUPTA) JUDGE __/01/2020