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The Punjab and Haryana High Court has quashed the criminal complaint under section 406, 498 A & 506 IPC made by a woman against her in-laws while stating that It has become a common practice to use the provisions of Section 498- A IPC as a weapon rather than shield by disgruntled wives.

It further said, “The simplest way to harass is to get the relatives of the husband roped in under this provision, no matter they are bed ridden grand parents of the husband or the relatives living abroad for decades. The case in hand is also of similar nature.”

A single-judge bench of Justice Jaishree Thakur of Punjab and Haryana High Court noted, “The complainant has failed to make out a prima facie case against the petitioners regarding allegation of inflicting physical and mental torture to the complainant or demanding dowry from her. The complaint does not disclose specific allegation against the petitioners except casual reference of their names that husband of the complainant gave her beatings at the instance of petitioners,” and quashed the criminal case proceedings at the trial court.

The Court was hearing the petition filed under Section 482 Cr.P.C. seeking to quash Criminal Complaint No.31861/13 dated 06.09.2012 and the summoning order dated 06.12.2016 whereby petitioners have been summoned to face trial under Sections 498-A, 506, 120-B IPC and order dated 04.08.2017 declaring the petitioners as proclaimed offenders. Petitioners are the father-in-law, brother-in-law and sister-in-law of the respondent No.1 Jaswinder Kaur, (the complainant).

The crux of the matter was that the complainant had alleged that she was ill-treated by her husband and her in-laws and repeated demands of dowry were made. It was alleged that the complainant gave birth to a girl child namely Manjinder Kaur at Nawanshahar and entire expenses of the delivery were borne by parents of the complainant. It was alleged that after the birth of girl child, the mother-in-law raised a demand of `5 lakhs.

The Judicial Magistrate 1st Class, Jalandhar on appreciation of material placed before it, vide order dated 25.03.2013 summoned the husband to face trial under Sections 406, 498-A, 506 and 494 IPC and the mother-in-law under Sections 406, 498-A and 506 IPC whereas the other accused persons were discharged including the petitioners herein.

The aforementioned order was challenged by the complainant in revision before the Additional Sessions Judge, Jalandhar who vide order dated 02.02.2015 while noting the fact that there are specific allegations against accused No.3, 5 and 6 i.e. petitioners herein set aside the order passed by the Judicial Magistrate 1st Class, Jalandhar and directed to pass appropriate summoning order after re-considering the evidence placed before him.

The trial Court on reconsideration of the evidence before it passed order dated 06.12.2016 whereby accused Nos.3, 5 and 6 i.e. petitioners herein have also been ordered to be summoned to face trial under Sections 498-A, 506 and 120-B IPC.

Pursuant to the summoning order, notices were issued to the petitioners and since they did not put in appearance despite publication, they were declared as proclaimed offenders vide order dated 04.08.2017.

Mr. Bhrigu Dutt Sharma, learned counsel appearing on behalf of the petitioners would submit that there is no specific allegation levelled against the petitioners in the complaint and therefore, the Judicial Magistrate vide order dated 25.03.2013 after appreciating the material placed before it gave a finding that no offence is made out against the petitioners herein and only summoned the husband and mother-in-law of the complainant to face trial under Sections 406, 498-A, 506 IPC. On remand, the trial Court failed to take into consideration that there is no specific allegation levelled against the petitioners in the complaint and in the absence of any specific allegation, a complaint is liable to be dismissed.

The High Court said, “It would be in the interest of justice to see at the first instance whether any offence is made out against the petitioners as per allegations levelled against them in the complaint or not? Because if the complaint fails, as a necessary corollary, all subsequent proceedings arising therefrom would automatically go.”

After the perusal Court said, it reveals that there are no direct and specific allegations against the petitioners that they had given beatings to the complainant or demanded any dowry article or misappropriated the shrtidhan.

The Court referred to the judgment of the, “The Hon’ble Supreme Court in Geeta Mehrotra Vs. State of U.P. (2012) 10 SCC 741 wherein it quashed the FIR registered against the unmarried sister of the husband on the ground that prima facie case was not attracted against her in the absence of specific allegations.”

Read the Order Here;

CRM-M_13517_2018_15_05_2020_FINAL_ORDER-1

-India Legal Bureau

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