Petition U/s 482 CrPC seeking quashing of a domestic violence application not maintainable
P Pathmanathan Vs V Monica
Crl OP No.28458 of 2019
About/from the judgment:
The High Court has held that that a petition under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) to quash a complaint under Section 12 of the Domestic Violence Act is not maintainable.
The court observed that a petition under Article 227 of the Constitution may be maintainable if it is shown that the proceedings before the Magistrate suffer from a patent lack of jurisdiction.
The court observed thus while dismissing a batch of petitions filed under Section 482 CrPC seeking to quash a complaints filed under Section 12 of the Domestic Violence Act.
The court, to hold thus, noted that, in Kunapareddy v. Kunapareddy Swarna Kumari, (2016) 11 SCC 774, it was held that an application before a Magistrate for one or more reliefs under Chapter IV of the DV Act, are civil in nature, and are proceedings to vindicate the civil rights of an aggrieved person.
"It is entirely true that the nomenclature of the petition is not decisive of the jurisdiction of the Court. Section 482, Cr.P.C merely saves the inherent power of the High Court to make such orders as may be necessary to a) give effect to an order under this Code; or b) prevent abuse of process of any Court; or c) otherwise secure the ends of justice. It is well settled that this section has not given any new power to the High Court but has merely preserved the power inherently possessed by every High Court as a superior Court of record. As a highest Court of Justice in the State, the High Court exercises a visitorial or supervisory jurisdiction over all Courts in the State. However, the plenitude of the inherent power under Section 482, Cr.P.C does not extend to annul proceedings which are not before a Criminal Court. As pointed out supra, to constitute a criminal court, it is not sufficient that the Court is one of the Courts enumerated under Section 6 Cr.P.C, it is also necessary that the proceedings before it are criminal in character. If the proceeding before the Court is civil in nature, then it cannot be said that the Court is a Criminal Court exercising criminal jurisdiction for the purposes of Section 482, Cr.P.C."
The judge also disagreed with the view taken by the Kerala High Court in Baiju v. Latha, (2011) 3 KLJ 331, in which it was observed that the court of Magistrate or Metropolitan Magistrate acts as a criminal court while discharging functions under the Act though some of the reliefs it could grant under the Act are of a civil nature. The court also disagreed with the view of the Full Bench of the Bombay High Court in Prabhakar Mohite v State of Maharashtra that a petition under Section 482 of the Code seeking quashing of a complaint under DV Act is maintainable.
The court noted that in several cases under DV Act, Magistrates mechanically follow the drill of the procedure set out in Sections 190(1)(a), 200 to 204, Cr.P.C and issue summons as if the respondents before it are accused of offences. The judge, therefore, issued the following directives, for the proper disposal of applications under Section 12 of the D.V Act:
1- An application under Section 12 of the D.V. Act, is not a complaint under Section 2(d) of the Cr.P.C. Consequently, the procedure set out in Section 190(1)(a) & 200 to 204, Cr.P.C as regards cases instituted on a complaint has no application to a proceeding under the D.V Act. The Magistrate cannot, therefore, treat an application under the D.V Act as though it is a complaint case under the Cr.P.C
2- An application under Section 12 of the Act shall be as set out in Form II of the D.V Rules, 2006, or as nearly as possible thereto. In case interim ex-parte orders are sought for by the aggrieved person under Section 23(2) of the Act, an affidavit, as contemplated under Form III, shall be sworn to.
3- The Magistrate shall not issue a summon under Section 61, Cr.P.C to a respondent(s) in a proceeding under Chapter IV of the D.V Act. Instead, the Magistrate shall issue a notice for appearance which shall be as set out in Form VII appended to the D.V Rules, 2006. Service of such notice shall be in the manner prescribed under Section 13 of the Act and Rule 12 (2) of the D.V Rules, and shall be accompanied by a copy of the petition and affidavit, if any.
4- Personal appearance of the respondent(s) shall not be ordinarily insisted upon, if the parties are effectively represented through a counsel. Form VII of the D.V Rules, 2006, makes it clear that the parties can appear before the Magistrate either in person or through a duly authorized counsel. In all cases, the personal appearance of relatives and 52 other third parties to the domestic relationship shall be insisted only upon compelling reasons being shown. (See Siladitya Basak v State of West Bengal (2009 SCC Online Cal 1903).
5- If the respondent(s) does not appear either in person or through a counsel in answer to a notice under Section 13, the Magistrate may proceed to determine the application ex parte.
6- It is not mandatory for the Magistrate to issue notices to all parties arrayed as respondents in an application under Section 12 of the Act. As pointed out by this Court in Vijaya Baskar (cited supra), there should be some application of mind on the part of the Magistrate in deciding the respondents upon whom notices should be issued. In all cases involving relatives and other third parties to the matrimonial relationship, the Magistrate must set out reasons that have impelled them to issue notice to such parties. To a large extent, this would curtail the pernicious practice of roping in all and sundry into the proceedings before the Magistrate.
7- As there is no issuance of process as contemplated under Section 204, Cr.P.C in a proceeding under the D.V Act, the principle laid down in Adalat Prasad v Rooplal Jindal (2004 7 SCC 338) that a process, under Section 204, Cr.P.C, once issued cannot be reviewed or recalled, will not apply to a proceeding under the D.V Act. Consequently, it would be open to an aggrieved respondent(s) to approach the Magistrate and raise the issue of maintainability and other preliminary issues. Issues like the existence of a shared household/domestic relationship etc., which form the jurisdictional basis for entertaining an application under Section 12, can be determined as a preliminary issue, in appropriate cases. Any person aggrieved by such an order may also take recourse to an appeal under Section 29 of the D.V Act for effective redress (See V.K Vijayalekshmi Amma v Bindu. V, (2010) 87 AIC 367). This would stem the deluge of petitions challenging the maintainability of an application under Section 12 of the D.V Act, at the threshold before this Court under Article 227 of the Constitution
8- Similarly, any party aggrieved may also take recourse to Section 25 which expressly authorises the Magistrate to alter, modify or revoke any order under the Act upon showing change of circumstances.
9- In Kunapareddy (cited supra), the Hon'ble Supreme Court upheld the order of a Magistrate purportedly exercising powers under Order VI, Rule 17 of The Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (hereinafter referred to as "C.P.C."), to permit the amendment of an application under Section 12 of the D.V Act. Taking a cue therefrom, it would be open to any of the respondent(s), at any stage of the proceeding, to apply to the Magistrate to have their names deleted from the array of respondents if they have been improperly joined as parties. For this purpose, the Magistrate can draw sustenance from the power under Order I Rule 10(2) of the C.P.C. A judicious use of this power would ensure that the proceedings under the D.V Act do not generate into a weapon of harassment and would prevent the process of Court from being abused by joining all and sundry as parties to the lis.
10- The Magistrates must take note that the practice of mechanically issuing notices to the respondents named in the application has been deprecated by this Court nearly a decade ago in Vijaya Baskar (cited supra). Precedents are meant to be followed and not forgotten, and the Magistrates would, therefore, do well to examine the applications at the threshold and confine the inquiry only to those persons whose presence before it is proper and necessary for the grant of reliefs under Chapter IV of the D.V Act.
11- In Satish Chandra Ahuja (cited supra), the Hon'ble Supreme Court has pointed out the importance of the enabling provisions under Section 26 of the D.V Act to avoid multiplicity of proceedings. Hence, the reliefs under Chapter IV of the D.V can also be claimed in a pending proceeding before a civil, criminal or family court as a counter claim.
12- While recording evidence, the Magistrate may resort to chief examination of the witnesses to be furnished by affidavit (See Lakshman v Sangeetha, 2009 3 MWN (Cri) 257. The Magistrate shall generally follow the procedure set out in Section 254, Cr.P.C while recording evidence.
13- Section 28(2) of the Act is an enabling provision permitting the Magistrate to deviate from the procedure prescribed under Section 28(1), if the facts and circumstances of the case warrants such a course, keeping in mind that in the realm of procedure, everything is taken to be permitted unless prohibited (See Muhammad Sulaiman Khan v Muhammad Yar Khan, 1888 11 ILR All 267).
14- A petition under Article 227 of the Constitution may still be maintainable if it is shown that the proceedings before the Magistrate suffer from a patent lack of jurisdiction. The jurisdiction under Article 227 is one of superintendence and is visitorial in nature and will not be exercised unless there exists a clear jurisdictional error and that manifest or substantial injustice would be caused if the power is not exercised in favour of the petitioner. (See Abdul Razak v. Mangesh Rajaram Wagle (2010) 2 SCC 432, Virudhunagar Hindu Nadargal Dharma Paribalana Sabai v. Tuticorin Educational Society, (2019) 9 SCC 538.) In normal circumstances, the power under Article 227 will not be exercised, as a measure of self-imposed restriction, in view of the corrective mechanism available to the aggrieved parties before the Magistrate, and then by way of an appeal under Section 29 of the Act.
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