Mere demand ff money unaccompanied by any harassment would not fall within the mischief Of 498-A
Kamlesh Ghanshyam Lohia and Ors Vs The State of Maharashtra and Ors
CRIMINAL WRIT PETITION NO. 3540 OF 2019
About/from the judgment:
The High Court was hearing a criminal writ petition filed by relatives of one Krishna Lohiya whose wife Priyanka had filed an FIR against them.
In the FIR, the complainant has alleged that on every festive occasion, the family members of Krishna demanded clothes, ornaments and money from her parents and those demands were met. She also alleged that her husband's relatives used to insult her when they visited her house by calling her 'fat and dark' also 'infertile.'
According to the petitioners, complainant Priyanka has tried to falsely implicate them with an "oblique and ulterior motive."
"We have been residing separately and never shared the household with Priyanka. We used to occasionally visit the matrimonial home of the complainant mostly during festivals. There was no cause or occasion for us to illtreat and harass the first informant", petitioners said.
Submissions and Judgement
Advocate Subhash Jha appeared for the petitioners and submitted that even if the allegations in the FIR are taken as a gospel truth, no offence can be said to have been made out as against the petitioners so as to warrant their prosecution. Whereas, complainant's counsel Satyavrat Joshi asserted that there were specific allegations in the FIR that implicate the petitioners.
After hearing submissions of both parties, Court observed-
"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. Mere demand of money or property, unaccompanied by any harassment, would also not fall within the mischief of section 498A. There has to be a nexus between the demand and the consequent harassment."
Thereafter, the bench examined various allegations against the petitioners-
"On the anvil of the aforesaid legal position, if the allegations enumerated above, are weighed, it becomes evident that the first allegation of insulting the first informant after she shifted to Juhu in the year 2010, is of general nature. The allegation is stale as well.
The second allegation of all the family members of Krishna demanding money, clothes and ornaments on each of the festive occasions is also of general nature and bereft of any specific instance and authorship.
The third allegation of the first informant having been humiliated by all the family members by calling her "infertile", is omnibus in nature. At this juncture, the fact that the petitioners have been residing independently of the first informant and Krishna assumes critical significance. The said factor, primafacie, erodes the credibility of the general allegations in the absence of the specific reference to person, time and place."
Court referred to certain observations made by the Supreme Court in Priti Gupta vs State of Jharkhand regarding allegations against close relatives of the husband.
"We are of the considered view that the implication of the petitioners herein for the offences punishable under section 498A of IPC is actuated by a design to harass and humiliate the petitioners for the reason that they happen to be the relations of Krishna. The continuation of the prosecution, in the circumstances, would be an abuse of process of law. Compelling the petitioners to undergo the trial would cause grave injustice."
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