Bombay HC quashed a case under section 498A of Indian Penal Code(IPC) of cruelty to wife filed by a woman against her brother-in-law, his wife & her sister-in-law observing that their implication for the offence was “actuated by design to harass & humiliate’’ them for being related to her husband.
The HC bench of Justices Ranjit More & N J Jamadar observed, “It is judicially recognized that in the wake of marital discord, the allegations are made thick & fast. There is a tendency to rope in as many persons from the family of the husband as possible, irrespective of their involvement in the alleged crime.’’ It added, “Allowing the prosecution of the immediate relations of the first informant, when the prosecution case does n't indicate their involvement even remotely, would amount to grave injustice.’’
"Mere demand of money or property, unaccompanied by any harassment, would alson't fall within the mischief of section 498A. There has to be a nexus between the demand & the consequent harassment,'' said the HC.
The observations, however, the HC clarified were only with regard to the 3 petitioners who had this year filed a petition to quash the criminal case registered against them by Juhu police station.
“We haven't considered the merits of the prosecution as against the rest of the accused, even remotely,’’ said the bench after accepting the arguments of the trio’s advocate Subhash Jha that the First Information Report (FIR) filed last year makes out no case against them & it's continuance amounts to abuse of the process of law.
“The plenary nature’’ of the quashing power vested with the HC, “warrants its resort sparingly & in deserving cases only,’’ the bench said it its Aug 23 judgment.
The woman who filed the First Information Report (FIR) was married in 2001 & marital discords led to “multiple proceedings’’ & the First Information Report (FIR) lodged last Oct with the Juhu police in which she said her parents had incurred expenses worth Rs 7 crore for her marriage & also Rs 15 lakh on the honeymoon. The trio said the allegations were “false, baseless & vague’’. Jha argued that the case was yet another manifestation of clear abuse of section 498A, Indian Penal Code (IPC). While, govt lawyer Sangita Shinde & Satyavrat Joshi appearing for the housewife who lodged the First Information Report (FIR), opposed the quashing plea with Joshi saying that the “tenor of the First Information Report (FIR) as a whole ought to be considered’’ & that there were “specific allegations which implicate the petitioners.’’
But the HC found none. The HC said,” It is indisputable that the cruelty under section 498A of Indian Penal Code (IPC) has a specific legal connotation. Ordinary quarrels, differences of views & wear & tear of life, which every home witnesses, do not fall within the mischief of cruelty which section 498A of Indian Penal Code (IPC) punishes. Nor, every illtreatment or harassment falls within its dragnet. To fall within the tentacles of section 498A, the married woman must have been subjected to cruelty which would drive the woman to commit suicide or to cause grave injury or danger to her life, limb or health, or with a view to coerce her or any person related to her to meet an unlawful demand of property,’’ said the HC