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Bombay High Court quashes FIR lodged by a woman against her brother-in-law

The Court also raised the concern wherein the tendency to frivolously roping the relatives of the accused is being practiced at large.

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The Bombay High Court has quashed an FIR lodged by a woman against her brother-in-law while saying in situations where general, vague and non-specific allegations are made and basic ingredients of the alleged offences are not made out, the FIR can be quashed. 

The Court stated that the allegations made by the respondent/woman seemed generalized and non-specific and didn’t primarily level with the petitioner and it becomes evidently important to analyze the statement of the information to weigh the plausibility of the allegations against the accused with utmost diligence. 

A division bench of Justice Manish Pitale and S.S Shinde said, “When there is matrimonial discord and acrimony between husband and wife, there is a tendency to vent out anger against the husband by roping in as many relatives of the husband as possible.”

The Court also raised the concern wherein the tendency to frivolously roping the relatives of the accused is being practiced at large. The Court held that the ingredients for the offence under Section 498A of the IPC was not sufficiently proved in the present case which intricately defines cruelty on a woman by her husband or relative.

The case at hand arises out of the matrimonial acrimony between the petitioner and the respondent wherein the petitioner was seeking quashing of FIR registered at the behest of respondent, his sister-in-law under sections 406, 498A and 344 of the IPC. The petitioner lived in a nuclear setup and only met the respondent occasionally at family get-togethers. On 18.03.2020, respondent, the respondent’s husband i.e. petitioner’s brother and their son went to Mahabaleshwar to stay in the bungalow of the respondent’s father where they had to stay for four months owing to the nationwide lockdown due to Covid-19. Consequently, a disputation arose upon revelation of an alleged incident of sexual abuse by the respondent’s father. In lieu of the serious allegations against the father of the respondent several attempts were made to amicably resolve the discord.

The churning point of the case arose on 27.07.2020 when the respondent and the petitioner’s brother (respondent’s husband in the present case) lodged a complaint to the Police Station at Worli, Mumbai against his father-in-law for sexually abusing his grandchild and a subsequent complaint was simultaneously lodged by the respondent against the petitioner’s brother and mother.

Thereafater, several attempts were made to resolve the matter owing to the family nature of the dispute. It was on 26.08.2020, the petitioner’s brother sent complaints to various police stations for registration of offences against the father of the respondent under the Protection of  Children from Sexual Offences Act 2012(POCSO ACT) in furtherance of the complaint the statement of petitioner’s brother was recorded under Section 377 of the IPC and Section 4 and 5 of the POCSO ACT at the Cuff Parade Police Station, Mumbai.

The learned senior counsel for the petitioner strenuously argued before the bench that the contents of the FIR were vague and the alleged offences were non-specific allegations and it was a clear case of personal vendetta against the brother of the petitioner i.e. the respondent’s husband who deliberately wished to rope in all the relatives in the thrust of her anger. It was retaliated by the senior counsel that the petitioner had nothing to do with the said incident of sexual abuse by the respondent’s father nor with the cascading effect which it might have had on their matrimonial relations between the respondent and the petitioner’s brother.  

Read Also: Rajasthan HC sets aside FIR, calls out state police abuse of power, imposes penalty of Rs 10 lakh on Rajasthan Police

The Court findings predominantly stated that factors like the relatives of the husband not living in the matrimonial house, the complainant not stating in the complaint that such relatives stay in the matrimonial house, or even about any day-to-day contact and interaction with such relatives become very relevant. A significant emphasis was laid by the bench while relying on a Supreme Court judgment of “The State of Haryana vs. Bhajan Lal” that the FIR was even taken at their face value do not prima-facie constitute an offense, the petition for quashing of FIR deserves to be allowed. There need to be specific allegations and description of events in such complaints which have their genesis in matrimonial discord to indicate extent where the relatives of the husband are concerned and the way about how the investigation needs to proceed. In cases where general, vague and non-specific allegations are made and basic ingredients of the offenses are not made out, the FIR can be quashed in terms to where the accused relatives of the husband are concerned.

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