26 May 2010

Routine implication of Husband's in-laws for dowry allegations incorrect: High Court

This decision might come as a sigh of relief to the so-called dowry-harassed husbands. Holding that there is a reckless tendency for estranged wives to implicate the in-laws for allegations of dowry and noting the observation of other judges in this regard, the Delhi High Court in a recent decision has quashed the order of the lower court directing framing of charges for dowry and other cases against the relatives of the husband who had been living separately. 

The High Court observed inter alia as under;

18. In the light of the aforesaid proposition if one examines the authorities cited by the learned Senior Counsel one cannot but agree that the proposition of law which is enunciated in all these cases is that invariably whenever matrimonial relations have turned sour there is a tendency on the part of the complainant whether it is done by her of her own free will or at the instigation of her parents, brothers, sisters or even legal advice to make all kinds of wild and reckless allegations against the entire family of the husband.
19. By such a conduct not only the gravity of the offence against the husband who is the main accused gets diluted, even the parents in law or other relative who are not ordinarily living in a joint family are enroped and weakened because she loses on her credibility. It is in this background that in Mukesh Rani's case (supra), the learned Single Judge of Punjab and Haryana High Court has observed that
“whenever there is a matrimonial dispute between the husband and wife for the fault of husband other relations of the husband that is the brothers, sisters, parents are also roped in the litigation on the allegation of demand of dowry, whether they are living jointly or separate and sometimes even the parents who are aged 80 to 90 years and are unable to walk or talk and the sisters living at far off places in the matrimonial house are involved.”
20. The learned Judge had shown the concern of the Court that the provisions of Section 498A/304B IPC and the presumptions which are permitted u/s 113A and 113B of the Evidence Act, 1872 by the legislature in its wisdom, for the protection of women, have been put to greater misuse by the girl‟s side than to the actual use.
21. Similar is the observation in Anu Gill’s case by the learned Single Judge of our own High Court wherein the proceedings against the sisters in law themselves were quashed by the High Court. It is not correct on the part of the learned Magistrate to observe that there were no allegations against the sister in laws in Anu Gill‟s case and therefore, the case was distinguishable. On the contrary, admittedly there were allegations against the sister in law which was considered to be totally vague, unworthy of credence by the Court. The allegations which were made by the complainant in Anu Gill’s case was that the in-laws of the complainant had demanded various gold items apart from a sum of Rs.11 lacs from the complainant to meet the requirement of the cash expenses for the “chuchak” ceremony of Anu Gill by the parents of the husband.
22. The nature of allegations in the two cases are bound to be different and merely because a generic term of 'in-laws' was used, it did not mean that the complainant in the reported case did not make allegations against Anu Gill who would also form part of 'in–laws'.
23. Another learned Single Judge of our own High Court in case titled Savitri Devi Vs. Ramesh Chand 2003 (11) DMC 328 has again echoed the same sentiments of the Court that though the provision in question has been made by the good intentions of the legislature but implementation has left a very bad taste and it has become counter productive as there is a growing tendency amongst women to perpetuate an action against the parents in law, relatives irrespective of the fact whether they are minor school going children, distant relatives. Because of the FIR having been registered against them, they are made to run for protection of their liberty.
24. In the light of the aforesaid concern which the different Judges of different High Courts have shown from time to time, one thing is very clear that as and when the relations between husband and wife get strained, then allegations are levelled not only against the husband but all his relatives with a view to teach him a lesson.
25. I have purposely not referred to all the authorities cited by the learned counsel for the petitioner because they are also echoing almost the same sentiments.
26. Coming back to the facts of the present case, I feel that this is precisely what has happened in the instant case also that although the marriage had taken place in the month of June, 2000, but the relations got strained may be on account of alleged illegal demands having been made by the husband or the relatives who were ordinarily living with him in a joint family but certainly it is highly improbable to assume that the married sisters of the husband of the complainant who got married much prior to the marriage of the complainant and were living in their own matrimonial homes would come down simultaneously to the matrimonial home of the complainant and subject her to demand of dowry and the consequent cruelty. Therefore, on this ground itself, I feel that the charge against the present petitioners is not prima facie made out nor is any 'grave suspicion' to have summoned such an offence available on record to put them to trial.
29. I cannot refrain from mentioning that in a case of this nature, the Court has to be very sensitive and it should not get swayed by emotions which the complainant may be suffering from with a view to put persons or relatives who are totally unconnected with the incident to the facing of the trial in itself in present times is a great deal of punishment especially in the light of the fact that the same continues endlessly for years together on account of heavy load on the learned MM.

No comments: