Family members named in matrimonial disputes without allegations of active involvement cannot be tried

Meena R Poojary and Ors Vs State of Karnataka ans Anr

Karnataka HC

23/10/2020

CRIMINAL PETITION NO. 4995 OF 2015

About/from the judgment:

The High Court has recently ruled that family members named in matrimonial mattes without allegations of active involvement cannot be proceeded against for harassment on "casual reference".

 

A Court took exception to the general tendency to involve all family members of a household in a matrimonial dispute.

 

"When the contents of the FIR and complaint are perused, it is apparent that there are no specific allegations that these petitioners have directly caused harassment to the complainant to get dowry and gold ornaments. Almost all allegations are against the accused No.1 viz., the husband of the complainant. Thus, 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 tendency of involve the entire family members of the household in the domestic quarrel taking place in the matrimonial dispute........"

- the order said.

 

The observations were made while quashing the proceedings against a mother-in-law, sister-in-law and brother-in-law of a woman who had lodged a dowry harassment complaint.

 

After marriage, the complainant and accused no 1 (husband), were residing in the matrimonial house with the in-laws. It was the allegation of the complainant that her husband had harassed and humiliated her without any reason and also demanded huge amount of money.

 

It was also alleged that accused Nos. 2 to 5 had supported the husband in his illegal acts. All the accused colluded and took away more than 450 grams of gold ornaments from the complainant, she had contended.

 

On December 12, 2013, the complainant and her parents asked the accused No.1 to return her gold ornaments. This culminated in accused persons abusing the complainant and her parents and threatening them.

 

On these grounds, the complainant filed a private complaint before the Addl. Civil Judge and Judicial Magistrate, Udupi, against the accused persons for offenses punishable under Sections 384, 498A, 504 and 506 read with 34 of Indian Penal Code and Sections 3 and 4 of Dowry Prohibition Act.

 

Aggrieved by this, all the accused (petitioners) except the husband filed a plea before the High Court to quash the proceedings before the subordinate court.

 

The counsel for the petitioners contended that there were no specific allegations in the complaint against the petitioners. It was further submitted that the petitioners are currently in Australia and there was no occasion for them to cause any harassment to the complainant.

 

It was, therefore, contended that there was no prima-facie case made out against the petitioners for initiating the proceedings under the Dowry Prohibition Act or the Indian Penal Code.

 

The counsel for complainant, on the other hand, submitted that there are specific allegations against the petitioners in that they instigated accused No.1 to commit the illegal acts to harass the complainant to get dowry and gold ornaments.

 

However, the court primarily noted there were no specific dates on which the petitioners had personally caused harassment to the complainant. It was further observed that the fact that the petitioners are residing in Australia had not been denied by the complainant.

 

"The allegations in this case are mainly against accused No.1. These petitioners are also involved by making general allegations without mentioning even a single incident against them. There are no specific dates on which these petitioners had personally caused harassment to the complainant," the order noted.

 

The involvement of all these petitioners in the whole incident appears to be a "casual inclusion of their names," the court added.

 

On these grounds, the Court quashed the criminal proceedings against the petitioner before the subordinate court.

Read the Judgment

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