Criminal Misc. No.M-2116 of 2011 (O&M) 1 In the High Court of Punjab and Haryana at Chandigarh Criminal Misc. No.M-2116 of 2011 (O&M)
Date of decision: 5.7.2012
Channo Devi @ Charno
State of Haryana and another
CORAM: HON’BLE MRS. JUSTICE SABINA
Present: Mr.H.S.Sullar, Advocate,
for the petitioners.
Mr.Gaurav Dhir, DAG, Haryana.
Mr.Sanjay Jain, Advocate,
for respondent No.2.
Petitioner has preferred this petition under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 for quashing of FIR No.124 dated 29.7.2010 under Section 498-A/ 307/ 406/ 34 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC for short) registered at Police Station Ambala Sadar, District Ambala (Annexure P-1) and all the subsequent proceedings arising therefrom.
FIR (Annexure P-1) reads as under:-
“The complainant submits as under:-1. That the complainant was married with accused no. 1 Ram Ji son Criminal Misc. No.M-2116 of 2011 (O&M) 2 of Kuldeep Singh, R/o Village Munak Distt. Karnal as per Hindu Rites and ceremonies at village Sarangpur, P.S. Sadar Ambala, Tehsil and Distt. Ambala on 15.02.2009,
2. That the father of the complainant spent on the marriage of the complainant more than his capacity. He arranged the marriage in Dulhan Farm Hissar Road Ambala city and provided good food and other facilities to the Baraties and spent Rs. 2,00,000/- on marriage party in Dulhan Farm. 3. That at the time of departure of Barat a huge dowry was entrusted to the accused nos. 1 and 2 for the purpose of giving the same to the complainant in her matrimonial house which was for the exclusive use of the complainant a separate list of the dowry article is attached along with the complaint, 4. That accused no. 1 husband and accused no. 2 the father in law of the complainant and Smt. Nahmo Devi alias Bimla accused no. 3 and Nanad Channo Devi were not satisfied with this much and they started to tease the complainant on the pretext that the complainant has not brought anything worthwhile in her marriage and started to say that her (complainant’s) father has not given a car in the marriage and instead has given a Motor Cycle. All the accused started to demand a car and the others to pressurize the complainant to meet out their illegal demand of car and they also started to give beatings to the complainant Criminal Misc. No.M-2116 of 2011 (O&M) 3 every now and then on one pretext or the other 5. That having felt disturbed mentally and harassed the complainant reported the same to her father and told that her in law i.e. husband, father, mother-in-law and Nanad were demanded a car and also told that they often beat her to compel her to met out their illegal demand. The father of the complainant on the receipt of the complainant went to village Munak alongwith members of his Biradari and he alongwith other member panchayat made their best to make the accused persons understand that he could not given anything more than what he had already give in the marriage of his daughter on this all accused persons became furious and they started to quarrel with the father of the complainant and other members of brother hood accompanying him the accused persons also declared that they would not keep the complainant in their house unless a car is not given to them. However with the accused agreed to keep the complainant in her matrimonial house and also promised that they would not demand anything again in future. 6. That time went on going and the accused persons out of lust of dowry again started to demand a car in the same manner and fashion and again started to maltreat the complainant and beat her or the other to pressurize their demand. They also started to deny her food and other Criminal Misc. No.M-2116 of 2011 (O&M) 4 basic amenities of life in her matrimonial house. The complainant continued to bear all the same with the hope that good sense would prevail on the accused persons one day or the other but the accused persons did not mend their habits and they made the complainant to and her life by committing suicide. The accused persons created such an atmosphere in the house that she felt danger to her life. The accused persons harassed the complainant to such an extent to coerced the parents of the complainant to meet the unlawful demand of the accused persons. 7. That when the parents of the complainant did not meet the unlawful demand of the accused persons all the accused persons gave beatings to the complainant on 27.06.2010 and tried to put her on fire by sprinkling on her clothes. The complainant however made hue and cry and on hearing her noise the people from the neighborhood gathered at the spot and they escaped her from the cruel clutches of the accused persons. The complainant left the house of the complainant feeling danger to her life and came to the house of her parents at village Sarangpur P.S. Sadar Ambala Tehsil and District Ambala. She told everything to her parents. Upon which the father of the complainant made an application to S.P. Karnal through the complainant stating there in everything what happened to Criminal Misc. No.M-2116 of 2011 (O&M) 5 her in her in laws house on 28.06.10. The application made to S.P. Karnal was made over to Incharge Parivar Pramarash Kendar Karnal for necessary action but the matter could not be solved and the grievances of the complainant were not redressed for the eye-wash of the complainant and her father the Incharge Parivar Pramarash Kendar Karnal got a fictitious as well as vage compromise effected where in the accused party had promised to take the complainant to her matrimonial house by 15.07.2010 but non has come to take the complainant back in her matrimonial house and she still is living with her parents at village Sarangpur P.S. Sadar Ambala Tehsil and Distt Ambala the accused no. 1 filed a petition u/s 13 of H.M. Act in the courts at Karnal against complainant. 8. That the complainant has not condoned the act of maltreatment meted out to her by the accused persons and all the accused persons are liable to be punished for the criminal acts done by them and all the accused persons are liable to be punished accordingly. 9. That all accused persons have also retained the dowry articles, Jewellery, wearing apparels and other articles entrusted to them at the time of marriage and have not returned them to the complainant and converted the same to their own use. 9. That all the accused have committed an offence punishable under section 498A/307/406/34 Criminal Misc. No.M-2116 of 2011 (O&M) 6 IPC within the cognizance of this Hon’ble Court and this Hon’ble Court has got the jurisdiction to hear the present complaint.”
Learned counsel for the petitioner has submitted that the petitioner was the married sister-in-law of the complainant. The petitioner had got married much before the marriage of the complainant with her brother and was residing in her matrimonial home. The petitioner had been falsely involved in this case as a divorce petition had been filed against the complainant by her husband. The present FIR was a counter blast to the said litigation. Learned State counsel as well as learned counsel for complainant-respondent No.2, on the other hand, have submitted that the petitioner and her co-accused had harassed the complainant on account of insufficiency and demand of dowry. After hearing learned counsel for the parties, I am of the opinion that the present petitions deserve to be allowed. In the case of State of Haryana vs. Bhajan Lal,, 1992 Supp(1) Supreme Court Cases 335, the Apex Court has held as under:-
“The following categories of cases can be stated by way of illustration wherein the extraordinary power under Article 226 or the inherent powers under Section 482, Cr.P.C. Can be exercised by the High Court either to prevent abuse of the process of any court or otherwise to secure the ends of justice, though it may not be possible Criminal Misc. No.M-2116 of 2011 (O&M) 7 to lay down any precise, clearly defined and sufficiently chennelised and inflexible guidelines or rigid formulae and to give an exhaustive list of myriad kinds of cases wherein such power should be exercised:-
(1) Where the allegations made in the first information report or the complainant/respondent No.2, even if they are taken at their face value and accepted in their entirety do not prima facie constitute any offence or make out a case against the accused.
(2) Where the allegations in the first information report and other materials, if any, accompanying the FIR do not disclose a cognizable offence, justifying an investigation by police officers under Section 156(1)of the Code except under an order of a Magistrate within the purview of Section 155(2) of the Code. (3) Where the uncontroverted allegations made in the FIR or complaint and the evidence collected in support of the same do no disclose the commission of any offence and make out a case against the accused. (4) Where, the allegations in the FIR do not constitute a cognizable offence but constitute only a non-cognizable offence, no investigation is permitted by a Police Officer without an order of Magistrate as contemplated under Section 155(2) of the Code.
(5) Where the allegations made in the FIR or complaint Criminal Misc. No.M-2116 of 2011 (O&M) 8 are so absurd and inherently improbable on the basis of which no prudent person can ever reach a just conclusion that there is sufficient ground for proceeding against the accused.
(6) Where there is an express legal bar engrafted in any of the provisions of the Code or the concerned Act (under which a criminal proceeding is instituted)to the institution and continuance of the proceedings and/or where there is specific provision in the Code or the concerned Act, providing efficacious redress for the grievance of aggrieved party.
7. Where a criminal proceeding is manifestly attended with mala fide and/or where the proceedings is maliciously instituted with an ulterior motive for wreaking vengeance on the accused and with a view to spite him due to private and personal grudge. We also give a note of caution to the effect that the power of quashing a criminal proceeding should be exercised very sparingly and with circumspection and that too in the rarest of rare cases; that the court will not be justified in embarking upon an enquiry as to the reliability or genuineness or otherwise of the allegations made in the FIR or the complaint and that the extraordinary or inherent powers do not confer an arbitrary jurisdiction on the court to act according to its whim or caprice.” Criminal Misc. No.M-2116 of 2011 (O&M) 9 In Kans Raj vs. State of Punjab and others, 2000 (2) RCR (Criminal) 696 (SC), their Lordships of the Apex Court have observed that a tendency has developed for roping in all the relations in dowry cases and if it is not discouraged, it is likely to affect case of the prosecution even against the real culprits. The efforts for involving the other relations ultimately weaken the case of the prosecution even against the real accused. In the present case, the marriage of the complainant took place with Ramji Lal, brother of the petitioner, on 15.2.2009. The petitioner is married sister-in-law of the complainant and is residing in her matrimonial home at village Munak. Admittedly, the petitioner was married at the time of marriage of her brother with the complainant. It appears that the petitioner has been falsely involved in this case merely because of her relationship with the husband of the complainant. It is generally seen that in matrimonial disputes all the family members of the husband are involved in criminal litigation by the complainant party with a view to put pressure on the husband and his family members. A perusal of the FIR also reveals that there are general allegations levelled against the petitioner. The petitioner had no reason to demand a car by way of dowry as she could not have used the same being residing in her own matrimonial home. Hence, the continuation of criminal proceedings against the petitioner would be nothing but an abuse of process of law. Accordingly, the petition is allowed. FIR No.124 dated 29.7.2010 under Section 498-A/ 307/ 406/ 34 IPC registered at Criminal Misc. No.M-2116 of 2011 (O&M) 10 Police Station Ambala Sadar, District Ambala (Annexure P-1) and all the subsequent proceedings arising therefrom, qua the petitioner, are quashed.
July 05, 2012
Women are filing false 498A on Saturday to keep husband in custody on Sunday and deliberately avoiding child access to father – Calcutta HC
C.O. 2453 of 2012
Smt. Banani Acharya (Sarkar)
Sri Bikash Sarkar
Mr. S. Mukherjee,
Mr. Susanta Kumar Pal,
……. For the petitioner.
Supplementary affidavit filed by the petitioner be kept with the record. The present application is arising out of an order passed by the learned Additional District Judge in an application for custody of a male child. The learned trial Judge directed the wife to hand over the custody of the child forthwith to the husband and the husband was also directed to produce the child before the Court on first and third Saturday of each month from 11.00 A.M. to 12.30 P.M. when the wife was directed to visit the minor child during such period.
The wife being aggrieved by the said order filed this revisional application. The child is only about 4 years old and has become the pawn in the hands of the parents. In the tug-of-war the helpless child is in quandary with whom he 2
should spend his childhood and his innocent eyes show that he requires both the parents.
The custody proceeding commenced with the filing of the application by the wife under Section 38 of the Special Marriage Act, 1954 on 11th January, 2012 in which the wife prayed for a direction upon the husband to return the minor child and give custody to the wife. Initially, on 9th April, 2012, the learned Civil Judge directed the husband to send the child on each Friday in the afternoon to the house of the wife/petitioner and the petitioner was directed to return the child to the custody of the husband on Sunday evening on each week and such arrangement was to continue until further orders.
The wife in the said proceeding, thereafter, filed an application for modification of the order upon proof of change of circumstances. The change of circumstances alleged in the said petition was that since the passing of the order dated 9th April, 2012, the husband on his own whims violated and disrespected the order dated 9th April, 2012 and never sent the said minor male child to the house of the petitioner with the dishonest intention to torture the petitioner mentally and thus committed offences which are punishable under the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971. On 16th May, 2012, the petitioner got information from one of her well-wisher that on 10th May, 2012 a street dog bite her minor child and the said child was in acute distress. 3
Following receipt of such information, the petitioner on 16th May, 2012 visited the matrimonial home when she found that the said child was lying in an unconscious condition with high fever and with the help of the well-wishers and inhabitants of the locality, she rescued her minor son and, thereafter, arranged for necessary medical treatment. Gradually, the son recovered and the said male child is under the supervision of the medical practitioner who alleged to have suggested in his prescription dated 20th June, 2012 that the child requires bed rest for seven days. The wife relied upon the Photostat copy of the patient cards issued by the Department of Health & Family Welfare, Govt. of West Bengal in the name of the minor child between 10th May, 2012 and 20th June, 2012 regarding treatment. On 10th June, 2012 at about 6.00 p.m., the respondent husband along with some miscreants alleged to have trespassed into the house of the petitioner and demanded dowry of Rs.1,00,000/- and threatened the petitioner with dire consequences, in the event, such amount is not paid by the petitioner. It was alleged that the said petitioner along with miscreants forcibly wanted to take away the child who was under treatment but due to the resistance of the petitioner and inhabitants of the locality they could not succeed and left the place with the threat of repeating such offensive acts in future. Subsequently, on 19th June, 2012 similar attempts were made but they were not successful. In short, the custody of the child to the father was sought to be resisted, inter alia, on the following grounds:-
i. The opposite party/husband has criminal records;
ii. She is well placed in life so as to take care of the minor. iii. The family environment would be conducive of a balanced up bringing of the minor.
iv. The minor is likely to receive adequate education, medical treatment and cultural training having regard to his socio-economic position in society.
v. The minor is expected to have a reasonably good start in life at the end of his minority.
It was on the aforesaid basis the wife claimed permanent custody of the child. The said matter was contested by the husband. It appears that the husband contended before the trial Judge that in terms of the direction for custody passed on 9th April, 2012, the child was handed over to the mother but the mother refused to hand over the child after 2nd June, 2012 and since 2nd June, 2012 the minor is in the custody of the petitioner/wife. The wife also did not permit the husband to see and take back the minor child to his place in terms of order dated 9th April, 2012. It was also submitted that the said child is studying in a school which is adjacent to the house of the husband and the school would reopen after summer vacation and soon after the reopening of the school on 26th June, 2012, the examination would start. In view thereof, it is important that the child should be handed over to the father. It appears that both the parties have lodged general diary with the respective Police Station alleging violation of the order passed by the trial Judge. The respondent/husband also appears to have filed a petition on 2nd June, 2012 5
praying for a direction upon the wife to hand over the custody of the child. On careful consideration of the record, the trial Judge before arriving at the conclusion observed that the custody of the minor was with the father and for which the mother prayed for custody of the child by filing the said petition along with a prayer for divorce and after hearing the parties, initially, an order was passed on 9th April, 2012 by way of an interim arrangement. On the basis of the materials on record the learned Civil Judge arrived at a finding that the wife claimed to have taken custody of the child only on 16th May, 2012 after getting the information that the child was suffering from fever and lying in distress condition. The medical examination record shows that the child was treated in the Naihati State General Hospital on 10th May, 2012 and 15th May, 2012 and on 4th June, 2012 was fixed for further medical examination. Accordingly, it cannot be said that the child was not treated by the father. In fact, when the child was sick he was under the custody of the father and the child was treated on 10th May, 2012 and 15th May, 2012 at the Naihati State General Hospital. The child was further treated on 8th June, 2012, 11th June, 2012 and 20th June, 2012 respectively when the child was under the custody of the mother. The mother did not complain that the child was not handed over to her till 16th May, 2012 alleging refusal by father to hand over the child and even no application alleging violation of the order dated 9th April, 2012 was moved on 30th May, 2012 when the suit was fixed for hearing. On 9th June, 2012 during the hearing of the matter, the learned Civil Judge passed an order in which an 6
observation was made by the Court that the male child used to reside with his father and after enquiring from the child by the Court it was found that the child was not willing to go with his mother. The Court also recorded the difficulties being created by the petitioner in effecting service on her of the petitions filed by the husband. The learned Civil Judge, on the basis of the earlier recordings and materials on record considered the interim custody of the child keeping in mind that the welfare of the child should be the paramount consideration. It is very unfortunate that a child only of 4 years had to suffer such mental trauma only because of the fights between his parents. In allowing the said application for interim custody in favour of the father, the proximity of the school, the reluctance of the child to go along with his mother, the immediate treatment of the child by the father during his stay with his father and refusal of mother to hand over the child to the father in compliance of the order dated April 9, 2012 were taken into consideration and, accordingly, the wife was directed to hand over the custody of the child forthwith to the husband with certain visitation rights and, accordingly, the trial Judge fixed on 7th July,2012 for production of the child. Thereafter what happens really shocks the judicial conscience and brings out certain disturbing features as to how the orders of the Civil Court have been attempted to be nullified or rendered otiose. Such facts are revealed from a supplementary affidavit affirmed by the wife on 17th July, 2012 after the petitioner was successful in persuading one of the learned single Judges to release the matter on grounds which are admonishable, to put it mildly. In fact, it appears that the present petition was initially heard by Justice Prasenjit Mandal. After some 7
extensive hearing it was submitted on behalf of the petitioner that the petitioner had lost confidence in the Court and in view of such submission, the matter was released by His Lordship. It is extremely unfortunate that such submission was made before His Lordship without disclosing the reason for losing confidence of the Court.
In the supplementary affidavit, the wife stated that on 22nd June, 2012 the wife lodged a complaint against the husband in the Barasat Police Station for committing offences under Sections 498A/406/448/506/120B of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 which was registered as Barasat P.S. Case No.1292 dated 22nd June, 2012 which resulted in an arrest of the opposite party/husband on 14th July, 2012 from the residence of the opposite party and it is contended that on production of the husband on 15th July, 2012, the learned Chief Judicial Magistrate at Barasat rejected his bail application and remanded him to jail custody till 27th July, 2012. It is significant to mention that on 13th July, 2012 the learned Advocate for the petitioner was successful in releasing the matter from the learned single Judge and on the very next date the husband was arrested by the police. In the application before the Civil Court, the wife alleged that she was driven out of the matrimonial home on 25th March, 2008 and in July, 2010 the husband on the pretext of keeping the son with whom for a day or two took the son from her custody but did not return which had resulted in an application filed under Section 38 of the Special Marriage Act, 1954 in which an order was passed on 9th April, 2012.
It is a fact that the wife did not return the child nor produce the child on 7th July, 2012 as directed by the impugned order. In order to render the order passed by the Civil Judge on 4th July, 2012 ineffective and inimplementable recourse was taken to such proceedings with an ulterior motive. The police arrested the husband on the basis of an application filed on June 22, 2012 under Section 156(3) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. The basis of the said petition is a general diary lodged on June 16, 2012. The police arrested the husband on 14th July, 2012 and produced him on 15th July, 2012. The said production resulted in a routine order of remand being passed by the learned Chief Judicial Magistrate at Barasat, North 24-Parganas on 15th July, 2012. This Court in great anxiety observed that in most of such cases police arrests the so- called accused on the basis of such complaints mostly on Saturdays so that they are produced on Sundays before a Court which are practically non-functional resulting in routine orders of remand. This a clear infringement of fundamental rights of a citizen and it shakes the basic fabric of administration of justice. The police have an important role to play. It is unfortunate that in many cases such arrests are made on the basis of false complaint and usually such arrests are made on Saturday in order to ensure custody on Sunday since routine orders of remand are ordinarily passed at times even without requiring the police to produce the case dairy. In most of the cases, case diaries are not produced and the Investigating Officer is let off without any stricture or punitive orders. If a case is registered on 22nd June, 2012 this Court is unable to appreciate as to 9
why the said husband/opposite party was arrested on 14th July, 2012. The reasons are obvious. It calls for an investigation. The wife did not disclose the proceeding initiated under Section 156(3) of the Criminal Procedure Code. before the Civil Court. However, since the Chief Judicial Magistrate is in seisin over the matter it is expected that he should conduct a proper enquiry into the matter and must be very cautious in future in dealing with such matters arising out of matrimonial disputes especially when it involves custody matters since it has become the regular feature that matrimonial disputes are initiated in Criminal Courts by taking recourse to proceedings under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. The Courts are required to be extremely cautious and circumspect in passing an order in an application filed under Section 156(3) Criminal Procedure Code and in dealing with bail application. The advice given to the wife to initiate such proceeding in order to frustrate the order of Civil Court would be disastrous for the wife once the Court comes to a finding that such proceedings are mala fide, vexatious and an abuse of the process of law and such advisor cannot escape his or her liability and responsibility. Such irresponsible and improper acts are deprecated.
The date of filing of the petition under Section 156(3) Criminal Procedure Code the date of arrest of the husband and the subsequent order of remand give a clear impression that such process was initiated with an ulterior motive to render the order of the Civil Judge ineffective.
The learned Counsel on behalf of the petitioner refers to two decisions reported in AIR 1992 Madras 272 (Mrs. Umamaheswari v. V.Sekar) and AIR 1990 SC 1156 (Manju Tiwari v. Rajendra Tiwari) for the proposition that the mother should be given the custody of a child less than 5 years of age with liberty to the father to visit the father during the weekends.
In determining the question relating to the custody of a child, the paramount consideration should be the welfare and interest of the child and not the rights of the parents under the statute. Such an issue is required to be determined in the background of the relevant facts and circumstances and each case has to be decided on its own facts.
In Ashish Ranjan v. Anupma Tandon & Ors. reported in 2010 (14) SCC 274 after considering the earlier decisions on this point the Hon’ble Supreme Court held:-
“18. It is settled legal proposition that while determining the question as to which parent the care and control of a child should be given, the paramount consideration remains the welfare and interest of the child and not the rights of the parents under the statute. Such an issue is required to be determined in the background of the relevant facts and circumstances and each case has to be decided on its own facts as the application of doctrine of stare decisis remains irrelevant insofar as the factual aspects of the case are concerned. While considering the welfare of the child, the “moral and ethical welfare of the child must also weigh with the court as 11
well as his physical well-being”. The child cannot be treated as a property or a commodity and, therefore, such issues have to be handled by the court with care and caution, with love, affection and sentiments applying human touch to the problem. Though, the provisions of the special statutes which govern the rights of the parents or guardians may be taken into consideration, there is nothing which can stand in the way of the court exercising its parens patriae jurisdiction arising in such cases.
19. The statutory provisions dealing with the custody of the child under any personal law cannot and must not supersede the paramount consideration as to what is conducive to the welfare of the minor. In fact, no statute on the subject, can ignore, eschew or obliterate the vital factor of the welfare of the minor.”
In Mohan Kumar Rayana V. Komal Mohan Rayana reported in 2010 (5) SCC 657 while considering the custody of a minor under the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956, the Hon’ble Supreme Court observed that wishes of the minor need to be given due weightage. In that case, the order of the family court directing custody of child to continue with the mother was upheld on the basis of the wishes expressed by the minor. In Anjali Kapoor v. Rajiv Baijal reported in 2009 (7) SCC 322, the Hon’ble Supreme Court while considering Section 17 of the Guardians and Wards Act, 1890 held that when a conflict arises between the rights of natural guardians vis-à-vis welfare of the child what would best serve welfare and interest of the child should be the sole and predominant criteria. The Children are not mere chattels as observed in Rossy Jacob v. Jacob A. Chakramakkal reported in 1973 (1) SCC 840. The Hon’ble Supreme Court in Anjali Kapoor (supra) quoted with approval observations of the English Court and the other foreign Courts in deciding such custody matters giving predominance to the welfare of the child as it appears from Paragraphs 19 to 21 which are reproduced hereinbelow:-
“19. In McGrath (infants), Re 1893 (1) Ch 143 it was observed that: “… The dominant matter for the consideration of the court is the welfare of the child. But the welfare of a child is not to be measured by money only, nor by physical comfort only. The word welfare must be taken in its widest sense. The moral and religious welfare of the child must be considered as well as its physical well-being. Nor can the ties of affection be disregarded.”
20. In American Jurisprudence, 2nd Edn., Vo.39, it is stated that: “…An application by a parent, through the medium of a habeas corpus proceeding, for custody of a child is addressed to the discretion of the court, and custody may be withheld from the parent where it is made clearly to appear that by reason of unfitness for the trust or of other sufficient causes the permanent interests of the child would be sacrificed by a change of custody. In determining whether it will be for the best interest of a child to award its custody to the father or mother, the court may properly consult the child, if it has sufficient judgment.”
21. In Walker v. Walker & Harrison (1981 New Ze Recent Law 257) the New Zealand Court (cited by British Law Commission, Working Paper No.96) stated that: “Welfare is an all-encompassing word. It includes material welfare; both in the sense of adequach of resources to provide a pleasant home and a comfortable standard of living and in the sense of an adequacy of care to ensure that good health and due personal pride are maintained. However, while material considerations have their place they are secondary matters. More important are the stability and the security, the loving and understanding care and guidance, the warm and compassionate relationships that are essential for the full development of the child’s own character, personality and talents.”
The learned Civil Judge, in my mind, upon taking into consideration the aforesaid factors and the wishes of the child restored the custody of the child in favour of the father by way of an interim arrangement. Such custody orders are 13
always interlocutory in nature which can be varied and/or changed with the change of circumstances.
On the basis of the order of remand it is sought to be argued that in view of such changed circumstances the order of trial judge is to be reviewed and the child should be allowed to remain with the mother. The said submission cannot be accepted. This Court before passing this order has enquired from child his wishes. The impression of this Court is that the child wants to see the father and be with the father although he was brought to the Court by the mother. The child was in a complete helpless condition. It is unfortunate that the said beautiful child has been dragged unnecessarily in this unfortunate litigation. If the mother is really fond of her child and want her child to have a proper and better living, she should not have initiated such criminal proceeding against the husband and make an attempt to render the order of the Civil Judge nugatory. In the absence of any materials on record as to whether the Chief Judicial Magistrate at Barasat was informed of the said custody matter and the orders passed by the Civil Judge, it would not be proper for this Court to make any remark on the order passed by the Chief Judicial Magistrate in entertaining the application filed under Section 156(3) Criminal Procedure Code or in passing an order of remand. However, the Chief Judicial Magistrate at Barasat is directed to immediately call for the record and consider the prayer for bail of the petitioner forthwith upon receipt of this order and to pass appropriate orders. If the said Chief Judicial Magistrate found that the said complaint is malicious, vexatious, 14
mala fide and filed with an ulterior motive, the learned Magistrate should dismiss such complain. Furthermore, if it appears to the learned Magistrate that the Investigating Officer has acted improperly or on the basis of insufficient materials, appropriate order should be passed against the Investigating officer. The learned Civil Judge should also pass appropriate orders taking into considerations the order passed by the Chief Judicial Magistrate and to ensure that the welfare of the child does not suffer in any manner whatsoever. The Civil Judge should decide the custody of the child till the husband is released on bail. Meanwhile as an interim measure the wife/petitioner must ensure that while in her custody, the welfare and the benefit of the minor is not compromised. This is the primary consideration for not disturbing the present custody of the child and subject to the order that may be passed by the Civil Judge.
A copy of this Order be immediately forwarded by the learned Registrar General, High Court, Calcutta to the learned District Judge, Barasat, the learned 5th Additional District Judge at Barasat, learned Chief Judicial Magistrate at Barasat, North 24-Parganas and the Director General of Police for compliance and necessary action.
Since this revisional application is dismissed no notice is required to be sent upon the opposite party/husband. However, the learned Registrar General is directed to effect service of this order on the husband/opposite party. Urgent photostat certified copy of this order, if applied for, be given to the learned advocate for the petitioner in compliance of necessary formalities. (SOUMEN SEN, J.)
Criminal Misc.No.M-18643 of 2008 -1- IN THE HIGH COURT OF PUNJAB & HARYANA AT CHANDIGARH
CRM No.M-18643 of 2008
Date of Decision:- 21.2.2012
Smt.Sunita Goyal & Ors. …Petitioners Vs.
State of Punjab & Anr. …Respondents CORAM: HON’BLE MR.JUSTICE MEHINDER SINGH SULLAR
Present:- Mr.Akshay Bhan, Advocate for the petitioners.
Mr.Palwinder Singh, Senior DAG Punjab for respondent No.1.
Mr.Ashok Singla, Advocate for
Mr.Ravish Bansal, Advocate for respondent No.2.
Mehinder Singh Sullar, J. (Oral)
Petitioners Smt.Sunita Goyal, Vijay Goyal, unfortunate parents-in- law and Abhishek Goyal, brother-in-law (Devar) of complainant Soni Goyal, wife of Mahavir Goyal respondent No.2 (for brevity “the complainant”), have directed the instant petition for quashing the impugned FIR, bearing No.246 dated 15.9.2007 (Annexure P5), registered against them, on accusation of having committed the offences punishable under Sections 406, 498-A, 323, 506 and 120- B IPC by the police of Police Station Division No.5, Ludhiana.
2. Concisely, the facts and material, which need a necessary mention, relevant for the limited purpose of deciding the core controversy, involved in the present petition and emanating from the record, are that the marriage of the complainant was solemnized with Mahavir Goyal (husband non-accused) in the month of September, 2002, according to Hindu rites and ceremonies at Sangrur. The father of the complainant was stated to have given a Maruti Zen Car, jewellery, weighing 80 Tolas, cash and dowry beyond his capacity at the time of Criminal Misc.No.M-18643 of 2008 -2- her marriage, but her in-laws were not satisfied with the (given) dowry articles. They started harassing, maltreating her and demanded more dowry articles. It was claimed that although the cash amount of Rs.2,50,000/- was given, but her in-laws kept on harassing her. She and her husband also apprehend danger to their lives at the hands of the petitioners. On 30.8.2007 at 8 A.M., they were stated to have given severe and merciless beatings to the complainant and her husband Mahavir Goyal. The matter was reported to the police, where DDR No.12 dated 31.8.2007 was entered, but no action was taken by the police against them.
3. Levelling a variety of allegations and narrating the sequence of events, in all, the complainant claimed that the petitioners have harassed, treated her with cruelty in connection with and on account of demand of dowry and gave severe beatings to her as well as to her husband on 30.8.2007. In the background of these allegations and in the wake of complaint of the complainant, the present case was registered against the petitioners-accused, by virtue of FIR (Annexure P5) in the manner indicated hereinabove.
4. The petitioners did not feel satisfied with the initiation of criminal prosecution against them and preferred the instant petition, for quashing the FIR (Annexure P5) and all other subsequent proceedings arising therefrom, invoking the provisions of Section 482 Cr.PC inter-alia on the grounds (i) that the impugned FIR (Annexure P5) has been registered ostensibly on the complaint of Soni Goyal in furtherance to the oblique motive of aforesaid Mahavir Goyal, Soni Goyal and Chuhar Lal Garg by misusing the provisions of Sections 406 and 498-A of I.P.C. The impugned FIR was got registered as a counter-blast and in retaliation to the aforesaid complaint dated 30.08.2007 (Annexure P1) lodged by petitioner no.2 with P.S. Division No.5, Ludhiana under Section 384 read with section 120-B of I.P.C. against Mahavir Goyal, Soni Goyal and Chuhar Lal Goyal and also as a counter-blast to the disassociation and de-linking of Mahavir Goyal by petitioner no.2 from their property and the filing of the civil suit (Annexure P4) by petitioner Criminal Misc.No.M-18643 of 2008 -3- no.1 against Mahavir Goyal and Soni Goyal; (ii) the criminal case was lodged by the complainant with the sole intention to pressurize and blackmail them to transfer their property in the name of her husband Mahavir Goyal; (iii) the allegations in the FIR are absolutely concocted, false, frivolous and evince the element of malafide, after thought and maliciously & vexatiously registered against the petitioners in order to wreak vengeance and the incident of 30.8.2007 and story of payment of Rs.2,50,000/- were concocted by the complainant party; (iv) the complainant has concealed the fact that the Zen car has already been transferred in the name of Soni Goyal (complainant) on 22.4.2008, as per the transfer report/documents (Annexure P9 colly); (v) the dowry articles given at the time of marriage have already been given to the complainant, vide letter (Annexure P10). She did not make any grievance against the petitioners during five years after her marriage. As soon as, petitioner No.2 refused to part and disowned the husband of the complainant from his property, then she filed the false criminal case against them in order to take the revenge and no offence whatsoever is made out against the petitioners. On the strength of aforesaid grounds, the petitioners sought to quash the criminal prosecution against them, as depicted hereinbefore.
5. The complainant-respondent No.2 did not file any reply to deny the specific personal allegations contained in the petition. However, the DSP Crime filed the reply on behalf of State of Punjab (respondent No.1), taking certain preliminary objections of, maintainability of the petition, cause of action and locus standi of the petitioners. According to the prosecution that as per the inquiry report (Annexure R1/T) and during the course of investigation, both the parties were called and the complainant’s father-in-law agreed to give the share of Rs.25 lacs from his property to Mahavir Goyal, husband of the complainant, out of which, Rs.10 lacs were already taken by him (husband) and the remaining amount was to be paid subsequently. Consequently, the complainant and her husband agreed to shift to residential HIG Flat No.11-FF, opposite Khalsa College, Ludhiana, as per Criminal Misc.No.M-18643 of 2008 -4- report (Annexure P13). Instead of reproducing the entire contents of the reply and in order to avoid the repetition, suffice it to say that the State of Punjab has reiterated the allegations contained in the impugned FIR (Annexure P5). However, it will not be out of place to mention here that it has stoutly denied all other allegations contained in the main petition and prayed for its dismissal. That is how I am seized of the matter.
6. Having heard the learned counsel for the parties, having gone through the record with their valuable help and after bestowal of thoughts over the entire matter, to my mind, the instant petition deserves to be accepted in this context.
7. Ex facie, the celebrated argument of learned counsel that since there are direct allegations of cruelty, maltreatment and harassment to the complainant by the petitioners, so, no ground for quashing the criminal prosecution against them is made out, is neither tenable nor the observations of Hon’ble Supreme Court in case Central Bureau of Investigation v. K.M.Sharan 2008(4) S.C.C. 471, are at all applicable to the facts of the present case, wherein a criminal case was registered against the then Vice Chairman of the Delhi Development Authority and other senior officials for entering into conspiracy with Dharmbir Khattar and others to give undue favour to M/s DLF Universal Limited, New Delhi in the matter of allowing 300 Floor Area Ratio (FRA) in respect of one of the projects of DLF Universal by charging rates much below the prevailing rates and obtained or agreed to obtain illegal gratification from M/s DLF as quid pro quo. The total bribe amount was 1.10 crores. During the course of investigation and subsequent search conducted at the residence of son of one of the accused A.M.Sharan, who was at that time, Commissioner (Land Disposal, DDA), certain papers/documents relating to assets acquired/expenses incurred by him and his family members besides the cash amount of Rs.36 lacs were recovered and seized by the CBI. The CBI collected sufficient oral as well as documentary evidence constituting the grave Criminal Misc.No.M-18643 of 2008 -5- offences. On the peculiar facts and in the special circumstances of that case, it was observed that “where there are direct allegations and evidence to support the criminal offence, the High Court was not justified in quashing the FIR/charge sheet while exercising its extraordinary jurisdiction under Section 482 Cr.PC.”
8. Possibly, no one can dispute with regard to the aforesaid observations, but to me, the same would not come to the rescue of the complainant in the present controversy, particularly when the Hon’ble Apex Court in cases Dhariwal Tobaco Products Limited and others v. State of Maharashtra and another, 2009(2) SCC 370; M/s Pepsi Foods Limited v. Special Judicial Magistrate 1998(5) SCC 749; Ashok Chaturvedi v. Shitul H.Chanchani 1998(7) SCC 698 and Central Bureau of Investigation v. Ravi Shankar Srivastava (2006)7 SCC 188 has ruled that “whenever the High Court comes to the conclusion that allowing the criminal prosecution to continue would be an abuse of the process of court and that, the ends of justice require that the proceedings should be quashed, it would not hesitate to do so, in exercise of inherent powers irrespective of other factors.”
9. Such thus being the legal position and material on record, now the short and significant question, though important that, arises for determination in this petition is, as to whether the criminal prosecution initiated against the petitioners deserves to be quashed or not under the present set of circumstances?
10. Having regard to the rival contentions of learned counsel for the parties, to my mind, the answer must obviously be in the affirmative and the criminal prosecution cannot be permitted to continue in this respect.
11. As is evident from the record, that the marriage of complainant was solemnized with Mahavir Goyal (husband non-accused) in the month of September, 2002, according to Hindu rites and ceremonies at Sangrur. The father of the complainant was stated to have given a Maruti Zen Car, jewellery,weighing 80 Tolas, cash and dowry beyond his capacity at the time of her marriage, but her in-laws were not satisfied with the (given) dowry articles. They started harassing, Criminal Misc.No.M-18643 of 2008 -6- maltreating her and demanded more dowry articles. Although the cash amount of Rs.2,50,000/- was given, but her in-laws kept on harassing her. She is working as a teacher in National College, Dakhan. Petitioner Nos.1 and 2 are her parents-in-law, whereas petitioner No.3 is her brother-in-law (Devar). She has not intentionally arrayed her husband Mahavir Goyal in a dowry related case in the array of the accused. According to the petitioners that on 30.8.2007, Mahavir Goyal and his wife (complainant) created nuisance in the house, broke the crockery & centre table and threatened the petitioners that in case the half share of the property and the money were not given to them, they would falsely implicate them in some false criminal case. Petitioner No.2 objected to it, then his son Mahavir Goyal, husband of the complainant, slapped him (his father petitioner No.2). The matter was reported to the police by petitioner No.2, through the medium of complaint of same date (Annexure P1). So much so, he disowned his son Mahavir Goyal from his whole movable and immovable properties and published the notice dated 1.9.2007 (Annexure P2) in Hindustan Times, Chandigarh in this connection. At the same time, in order to avoid the possibility of false implication, Sunita Goyal (petitioner No.1) wrote a UPC letter dated 3.9.2007 (Annexure P3 colly), asking her daughter-in-law (complainant) to take all the dowry articles and her other belongings.
12. Not only that, petitioner No.1 filed a civil suit for a decree of permanent injunction restraining the complainant and her husband Mahavir Goyal from interfering in the peaceful possession of their residential house, by way of plaint (Annexure P4 colly). Admittedly, in civil suit, bearing No.206 dated 13.9.2007 filed by petitioner No.1, counsel for the complainant and her husband (defendants therein) suffered a separate statement that they shall not interfere in the possession of the plaintiff in the suit property and they have no objection in case her (petitioner No.1) suit is decreed to that extent. In this manner, on the basis of statements of the parties, the suit of petitioner No.1 was decreed and the Criminal Misc.No.M-18643 of 2008 -7- complainant and her husband were restrained from interfering in her possession over the suit property, vide order dated 28.7.2010 (copy taken on record as Annexure P14).
13. It is not a matter of dispute that neither the complainant nor her husband made any complaint, raising any accusing finger towards the petitioners at any point of time before lodging the FIR (Annexure P5) nor made any such averment/statement during the course of pendency of the civil suit between them. Therefore, the arguments of learned counsel that the petitioners have been falsely implicated to pressurize and blackmail them to transfer the property and the complainant has lodged the false criminal case against them (intentionally excluding her husband in dowry related matter) vexatiously and maliciously in order to wreak vengeance, have considerable force.
14. The matter did not rest there. Even as per the FIR (Annexure P5), the father of the complainant gave a Maruti Zen Car and gold jewellery, weighing 80 Tolas besides cash. It was also alleged that the petitioners demanded more dowry articles and her father gave Rs.2,50,000/- in cash to them. That means, very very vague allegations of demand of dowry and payment of indicated amount are assigned to the petitioners. Above-all, the mere fact that the complainant did not name her husband as accused that the dowry articles were entrusted to him at the time of marriage or he has also demanded the more dowry articles, is indicative of the fact that she colluded with her husband and lodged a false complaint, on the basis of which, the FIR (Annexure P5) was registered against the petitioners without any material/evidence muchless cogent in this behalf.
15. Moreover, the indicated Zen car has already been transferred in the name of complainant, by means of transfer of ownership report/documents (Annexure P9 colly). The petitioners have specifically mentioned in their petition that whatever dowry articles were given at the time of marriage of complainant, have already been given to her, vide Annexure P10 (colly). That is the only reason Criminal Misc.No.M-18643 of 2008 -8- that the complainant intentionally did not file any reply to controvert all these vital personal aspects of the matter contained in the main petition, for the reasons best known to her. In this manner, no overt act or specific role, except one minor incident of 30.8.2007, which appear to have been concocted after the complaint (Annexure P1) of petitioner No.2 and notice (Annexure P2), are attributed to the petitioners. It is very highly impossible to believe that the petitioners would treat the complainant with cruelty or demand the dowry articles from her in the absence of her husband. She appears to have intentionally colluded with her husband in order to grab the property in this regard as discussed hereinabove.
16. It is now well settled proposition of law that, in order to attract the penal provisions of the offences punishable under Sections 406 and 498-A IPC, there must be specific allegations/overt acts and prima facie material against the petitioners to indicate that the dowry articles were actually entrusted to them and they have misappropriated the same or they further demanded any dowry articles and evidence in support thereof. All other relatives of the husband cannot, in all cases, be held to be involved in the demand of dowry, especially when in this case, the husband of the complainant is not an accused. In cases, where such accusation is made, the overt acts attributed to persons, other than husband, are required to be prima facie established. By mere conjectures and implications, such relations cannot be held to be involved for the offences related to demand of dowry. As all the essential ingredients to constitute the offences and complicity of petitioners are totally lacking, therefore, to me, no criminal prosecution can legally be permitted to continue against them.
17. As strange as it may appear, but strictly speaking, the tendency and frequency of the wives of involving and roping in all the relations of her in-laws in the matter of demand of dowry have been tremendously increasing day by day, which is adversely affecting social fabric of the society and leaving the Courts in lurch to decide such criminal prosecution. This tendency needs to be curbed and if Criminal Misc.No.M-18643 of 2008 -9- not discouraged, it is likely to affect and weaken the case of the prosecution even against the real culprits in future in this relevant direction.
18. An identical question came to be decided by this Court in cases Harjinder Kaur and others v. State of Punjab 2004(4) RCR(Criminal) 332; Labh Singh and others v. State of Haryana 2006(2) RCR (Criminal) 296; Rakesh Kumar and others v. State of Punjab and others 2009(2) RCR (Criminal) 565; Mohinder Kaur & Others v. State of Punjab & Another 2010 (2) RCR(Criminal) 597, Paramjit Kaur v. State of Punjab 2011(5) RCR (Criminal) 686 and the judgment dated 17.1.2012 rendered in case Ritu Khurana and another v. Brij Lal Chopra CRM No.M-8227 of 2010; wherein it was held that “the allegations against the relatives of the husband were vague and there is growing tendency to come out with inflated and exaggerated allegations roping in each and every relation of the husband, things have now taken a reverse trend and the women are abusing beneficial provisions of section 498-A IPC.”
19. Sequelly, if the crux of the allegations levelled against the petitioners as discussed hereinabove, is clubbed together and is perused, then, to my mind, the conclusion is irresistible that the complainant has falsely implicated the petitioners vexatiously and maliciously, to put pressure and to blackmail them, to grab the property, in order to wreak vengeance and the criminal proceeding is manifestly attended with mala fide against them. Such reckless/malafide FIR deserves to be quashed, in view of law laid down by Hon’ble Supreme Court in case State of Haryana and others v. Ch.Bhajan Lal and others, AIR 1992 Supreme Court 604, which was again reiterated in case Som Mittal v. Government of Karnataka 2008 (2) R.C.R.(Criminal) 92. Such malafide prosecution if allowed to continue, it will inculcate and perpetuate injustice to the petitioners and is nothing else, but sheer and deep misuse/abuse of process of criminal law in this relevant connection, which is not legally permissible. Therefore, the contrary submissions of learned counsel for complainant “stricto sensu” deserve to be and are hereby repelled Criminal Misc.No.M-18643 of 2008 -10- under the present set of circumstances, as the indicated Bench mark and the ratio of law laid down in the aforesaid judgments “mutatis mutandis” are applicable to the facts of this case and are the complete answer to the problem in hand. Thus, seen from any angle, to my mind, no offences whatsoever are made out against the petitioners, in the obtaining circumstances of the case.
20. No other legal point, worth consideration, has either been urged or pressed by the counsel for the parties.
21. In the light of aforesaid reasons, the instant petition is accepted. Consequently, the impugned FIR (Annexure P5) and all other subsequent proceedings arising therefrom are hereby quashed and the petitioners are discharged from the indicated criminal case registered against them. (Mehinder Singh Sullar)
Whether to be referred to reporter ? Yes/No
IN THE HIGH COURT OF DELHI AT NEW DELHI
Judgment delivered on: 21.03.2012
Smt. Shashi Bala ……appellant. Through: Mr. Atul Bandhu, Adv.
Shri Rajiv Arora ……Respondents Through: Mr. R.G. Srivastava, Adv.
HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE KAILASH GAMBHIR
KAILASH GAMBHIR, J.
1. By this appeal filed under section 28 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, the appellant seeks to challenge the impugned order and decree dated 12.2.2001 passed by the learned Trial Court whereby a decree of divorce in favour of the respondent husband under Section 13(i)(a) of the Hindu Marriage Act was granted and the counter claim FAO 185/01 Page 1 of 19 filed by the appellant seeking a decree for restitution of conjugal rights under Section 9 of the Hindu Marriage Act was dismissed.
2. Brief facts of the case relevant for deciding the present appeal is that the marriage between the parties was solemnized on 17.2.1991 according to Hindu rites and ceremonies. It was stated by the husband in his divorce petition that after the solemnization of the marriage, right from the inception, the attitude of the appellant was indifferent and she complained that the marriage had not been solemnized with a man of her taste. As per the respondent husband, the appellant had refused to participate in the traditional ceremony of dud-mundri by saying that she did not like all this but without disclosing any reasons. As per the respondent, the appellant also did not take any interest in the dinner which was served on the wedding night i.e. 18.2.1991. It is also the case of the respondent that when both of them went to their bedroom around 11.30 p.m. the appellant was not responsive and she did not allow the respondent to have sexual intercourse with her. The respondent has alleged that it is only on 25.2.1991, that he was allowed to have sexual intercourse with the appellant for the first time, but again the appellant remained unresponsive and such conduct of the appellant caused mental cruelty FAO 185/01 Page 2 of 19 to the respondent. It is also the case of the respondent husband that on 13.4.1991, the appellant refused to perform “chuda ceremony” which not only hurt the sentiments of the respondent but his parents as well. It was also stated that the appellant in fact removed the chuda and threw it under the bed by saying that she did not believe in all these things. It is also the case of the respondent that the appellant used to visit her parents on her own without even informing the respondent and finally left the matrimonial home on 16.4.1992 and since then she did not come back. It is also the case of the respondent that he had sexual intercourse with the appellant only for about 10-15 times during her stay with him for a period of about 5 months. It is also the case of the respondent that the appellant used to quarrel with his old parents and she also used to insist to shift to her parents’ house at Palam colony. The respondent also alleged that on 11th March, 1991 the appellant tried to illegally remove the jewellery from the almirah which belonged to his mother and which was kept for his unmarried sister and while doing so she was caught red handed. It is also the case of the respondent that the appellant made a false complaint with the Crime Against Women Cell and Family Counsel Office, which complaints were ultimately withdrawn by her. Based on FAO 185/01 Page 3 of 19 these allegations the respondent husband claimed the decree of divorce under Section 13(1)(ia) of the Hindu Marriage Act.
3. In the written statement filed by the appellant wife, she denied all the abovesaid allegations leveled by the respondent husband. She denied that she had refused to participate in the “Dud Mundari Ceremony”. The appellant had also stated that after taking lunch on the wedding day, one lady relative of her in-laws and parents of the respondent remarked that she did not bring bed and sofa sets in her dowry and in response she informed them that her father had given a bank draft of Rs. 30,000/- besides presenting costly clothes, ornaments, TV, clothes for relatives, utensils and other articles in the marriage. It is also the defence of the appellant that on the wedding night the respondent entered the bedroom showering filthy abuses on the appellant and told her that she had not brought the dowry according to their expectations. It is also her case that she was also told by the respondent that the bank drafts should have been prepared either in the name of the respondent or in the name of his father. It was denied by the appellant that her attitude was indifferent at the time of dinner. She also denied the allegation of non- consummation of the marriage on the wedding night. The appellant FAO 185/01 Page 4 of 19 took a stand that right from the wedding night i.e. 18.2.1991 the parties had normal physical relationship with each other. She also denied that she did not perform “chuda ceremony” or threw the chuda under the bed. She also denied that she left the matrimonial home on 16.4.1992. The appellant also took a stand that on 23.4.1992 the respondent, his parents and two sisters asked her to bring Rs. 50,000/- or otherwise leave the matrimonial home and on her refusal to meet the said demand, she was thrown out of the matrimonial home. The appellant denied that she had sexual relationship with the respondent only 10-15 times or she had refused to have sex with the respondent. She also denied that she never insisted the respondent to live in the house of her parents. She also denied that on 11th March, 1991 she made any attempt to steal the jewellery or she was caught red handed. She also stated that in the last week of April, 1991 she was told by the respondent to withdraw Rs. 30,000/- from her bank account as the old sofa lying in the house required replacement but no new sofa set was purchased when she brought the said money and gave the same to the mother of the respondent. The appellant also took a stand that she was prepared to FAO 185/01 Page 5 of 19 live with the respondent as she had withdrawn from her society without any reasonable cause and without any fault on her part.
4. Based on the pleadings of the parties, the learned Trial Court framed the following issues:-
(i) Whether the respondent has treated the petitioner with cruelty? (ii) Relief.
(iii) Whether the petitioner has withdrawn from the company of the respondent without any reasonable cause or excuse? If so, its effect. The respondent in evidence examined himself as PW2 besides examining Shri Dalveer Singh, Head Constable as PW1 and Shri Vishwamitra, father of the respondent as PW 3, his colleague Shri Vijay Kumar Taygi PW4. The appellant on the other hand examined herself as RW1 with no other evidence in support.
5. After taking into consideration the pleadings of the parties, the learned Trial Court found that the refusal of the appellant wife to participate in the “Dud Mundari ceremony” and thereafter “Chudha ceremony”, which were customary rituals in the family of the respondent husband caused embarrassment and humiliation to the respondent and such acts on the part of the appellant amounted to cruelty. The learned Trial Court also found that in the span of one FAO 185/01 Page 6 of 19 year and two months of the married life, the parties had sex only for about 10-15 times and also denial of the appellant for sexual relationship on the very first night of the marriage is a grave act of cruelty as healthy sexual relationship is one of the basic ingredients of a happy marriage. The learned Trial Court also found that filing of the complaints by the appellant with the Crime Against Women Cell and Family Counsel Office also collectively caused mental cruelty to the respondent husband. Accordingly, the learned trial court granted a decree of divorce in favour of the respondent and against the appellant and consequently also dismissed her counter claim for restitution of conjugal rights.
6. Mr. Atul Bandhu, learned counsel appearing for the appellant before this court vehemently argued that the learned Trial Court did not refer to the evidence of the appellant wife wherein she has denied all the allegations leveled by the respondent husband in his petition for divorce. Counsel also contended that the marriage was consummated on the very first night and the appellant wife never denied sexual relationship to the respondent husband. Counsel also submitted that nowhere the respondent husband has stated that as to when he was refused any such sexual relationship by the appellant. FAO 185/01 Page 7 of 19 Counsel thus argued that the learned Trial Court has granted the decree of divorce merely on the ground that the appellant wife did not participate in the dud-mundari ceremony and chudha ceremony and also she did not allow the husband to have sexual intercourse more than 10-15 times in a period of 5 months and as per the counsel, these grounds cannot be treated sufficient enough to constitute cruelty as envisaged under Section 13(ia) of the Hindu Marriage Act. In support of his arguments, counsel for the appellant placed reliance on the judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Savitri Pandey vs Prem Chandra Pandey AIR2002SC591 and V. Bhagat vs D. Bhagat (Mrs) (1994) 1 SCC 337.
7. Mr. R.G. Srivastava, learned counsel appearing for the respondent on the other hand fully supported the reasons given by the learned Trial Court which entitled him to claim a decree of divorce under Section 13(ia) of the Hindu Marriage Act. Counsel for the respondent also submitted that the appellant did not respect the sentiments of the respondent and his family members by refusing to perform customary rituals like dud-mundari ceremony and chudha ceremony. Counsel also argued that the appellant did not discharge her matrimonial obligations either towards her husband or even FAO 185/01 Page 8 of 19 towards his old parents. Counsel also submitted that the appellant made false complaints to the Crime Against Women Cell and to the Family Counsel Office, which she later withdrew and such act of the appellant also caused mental cruelty to the respondent. Counsel also submitted that by denying normal sexual relationship to the respondent, the appellant had shaken and destroyed the very foundation of a sound marriage. Counsel also submitted that the respondent had duly discharged his burden to prove the case set up by him where as the appellant failed to discharge her burden and even could not prove her defence. In support of his arguments, counsel for the respondent placed reliance on the following judgments:-
1. Vinita Saxena vs Pankaj Pandit 2006(3) SCALE (SC) 367.
2. Naveen Kohli vs Neelu Kohli 2006(4) SCC 558.
3. Samar Ghosh vs Jaya Ghosh 2007 (4) SCC 511.
4. Praveen Mehta vs Inderjit Mehta AIR 2002 SC 2582
5. Rajinder Bhardwaj vs Anita Sharma AIR 1993 Delhi 135.
8. I have heard learned counsel for the parties and given my thoughtful consideration to the arguments advanced by them. FAO 185/01 Page 9 of 19
9. Cruelty as a ground for divorce is nowhere defined in the Hindu Marriage Act as it is not capable of precise definition. There cannot be any straitjacket formula for determining whether there is cruelty or not and each case depends on its own facts and circumstances. What may be cruelty in one case may not be cruelty in other and the parameter to judge cruelty as developed through judicial pronouncements is that when the conduct complained of is such that it is impossible for the parties to stay with each other without mental agony, torture and stress. It has to be something much more than the ordinary wear and tear of married life. The conduct complained of should be grave and weighty and touch a pitch of severity to satisfy the conscience of the court that the parties cannot live together with each other anymore without mental agony, distress and torture. The main grievance of the respondent herein is the denial of the appellant to have normal sexual relationship with the respondent. As per the case of the respondent, during the short period of 5 months he had sexual intercourse with the appellant only 10-15 time while the plea taken by the appellant is that she had never denied sex to the respondent. The courts have through various judicial pronouncements taken a view that sex is the foundation of marriage and marriage FAO 185/01 Page 10 of 19 without sex is an anathema. The Division Bench of this Court in the celebrated pronouncement of Mrs. Rita Nijhawan vs. Mr.Bal Kishan Nijhawan AIR1973Delhi200 held as under:
“In these days it would be unthinkable proposition to suggest that the wife is not an active participant in the sexual life and therefore, the sexual weakness of the husband which denied normal sexual pleasure to the wife is of no consequence and therefore cannot amount to cruelty. Marriage without sex is an anathema. Sex is the foundation of marriage and without a vigorous and harmonious sexual activity it would be impossible for any marriage to continue for long. It cannot be denied that the sexual activity in marriage has an extremely favorable influence on a woman’s mind and body, the result being that if she does not get proper sexual satisfaction it will lead to depression and frustration. It has been said that the sexual relations when happy and harmonious vivifies woman’s brain, develops her character and trebles her vitality. It must be recognised that nothing is more fatal to marriage than disappointments in sexual intercourse.” The learned Trial Court referred to the judgment of this court in the case of Shankuntla Kumari vs. Om Prakash Ghai AIR1983Delhi53 wherein it was held that:
“(25) A normal and healthy sexual relationship is one of the basic ingredients of a happy and harmonious marriage. If this is not possible due to ill health on the part of one of the spouses, it may or may not amount to cruelty depending on the circumstances of the case. But willful denial of sexual relationship by a spouse when the other spouse is anxious for it, would amount to mental cruelty, especially when the parties are young and newly married.”
Hence, it is evident from the aforesaid that willful denial of sexual intercourse without reasonable cause would amount to cruelty. In the FAO 185/01 Page 11 of 19 authoritative pronouncement of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Samar Ghosh vs Jaya Ghosh (2007)4SCC511, the Hon’ble Supreme Court took into account the parameters of cruelty as a ground for divorce in various countries and then laid down illustrations, though not exhaustive, which would amount to cruelty. It would be relevant to refer to the following para 101 (xii) wherein it was held as under:- “(xii) Unilateral decision of refusal to have intercourse for considerable period without there being any physical incapacity or valid reason may amount to mental cruelty.”
Although it is difficult to exactly lay down as to how many times any healthy couple should have sexual intercourse in a particular period of time as it is not a mechanical but a mutual act, however, there cannot be any two ways about the fact that marriage without sex will be an insipid relation. Frequency of sex cannot be the only parameter to assess the success or failure of a marriage as it differs from couple to couple as to how much importance they attach to sexual relation vis a vis emotional relation. There may be cases where one partner to the marriage may be over sexual and the other partner may not have desire to the same level, but otherwise is fully potent. Marriage is an institution through which a man and a woman enter into a sacred FAO 185/01 Page 12 of 19 bond and to state that sexual relationship is the mainstay or the motive to be achieved through marriage would be making a mockery of this pious institution. By getting married, a couple agrees to share their lives together with all its moments of joy, happiness and sorrow and the sexual relationship between them brings them close and intimate by which their marital bond is reinforced and fortified. There may not be sexual compatibility of a couple right from inception of the relationship and depending upon physical, emotional, psychological and social factors, the compatibility between some couples may be there from the beginning and amongst some may come later. Undoubtedly, a normal and healthy couple should indulge into regular sexual relationship but there may be exceptions to this and what may be normal for some may not be normal for others as it would depend upon various factors such nature of job, stress levels, social and educational background, mood patterns, physical well being etc. Indisputably, there has to be a healthy sexual relationship between a normal couple, but what is normal cannot be put down in black and white.
10. Adverting back to the facts of the present case, the marriage between the parties was solemnized on 17.2.1991 and FAO 185/01 Page 13 of 19 according to the appellant she was forced to leave the matrimonial house on 16.4.1992, whereas as per the respondent husband, the appellant wife practically stayed at the matrimonial home only for a period of five months as for rest of the period she stayed at her parental house. The case of the respondent is that he had sex with the appellant only for about 10-15 times in a span of five months of married life and that he was denied sexual relationship on the very first night of their marriage and denial of sex at the wedding night caused great mental cruelty to him. The respondent husband also stated that he was allowed to have sexual intercourse by the appellant for the first time only on 25.2.1991.The appellant wife has denied the said allegations of the respondent husband and in defence stated that she was having normal sexual relationship with her husband and even had sexual intercourse on the wedding night. The learned Trial Court after analyzing the evidence adduced by both the parties found the version of the appellant untrustworthy and unreliable while that of the respondent, much more credible and trustworthy. The appellant on one hand took a stand that on 18.2.1991 the atmosphere on that night was very tense so much so that, both the parties could not sleep and speak to each other and she did not even take proper food and the FAO 185/01 Page 14 of 19 whole night there was tension between the parties and the atmosphere was fully charged, but at the same time in the cross- examination of PW2 the suggestion was made by counsel that the appellant touched the feet of the respondent when he entered the room on the said wedding night and she also admitted that her husband had never taken liquor in her presence and he had never come to her in drunken state. It would be appropriate to reproduce para 55 of the Trial Court judgment to bring to surface the said contradiction on the part of the appellant.
“55.From the evidence on record, it is gathered that on the wedding night i.e. on 18.2.91 a “Dud Mundari” ceremony was to be performed but the respondent wife refused to participate in the same. This version of PW 2 has been fully corroborated by his father PW 3. The husband i.e. Rajiv Arora, had entered by both PW 2 and RW1. RW 1 in her cross-examination has stated that their marriage had been consummated on that very night and her husband had come to her and she did not have to persuade the petitioner. On the other hand the petitioner has stated that their marriage could not be consummated on their wedding night and he had sex with his wife for the first time only on 25.2.91. RW1 in her cross-examination has stated that the atmosphere that night was very tense and both the parties could not sleep and they did not speak to each other and her husband had grievance about the insufficient dowry which had been given in the marriage . RW 1 has also admitted that on 18.2.91, she did not take proper food as she was not feeling well. This version of RW1 that she did not take food that night is corroborated by the version of PW1 who has stated that on the wedding night at the time when the dinner was served the attitude of the respondent was indifferent and she did not take any dinner but she took only a little sweet.” FAO 185/01 Page 15 of 19
11. In matrimonial cases, more often than not it is a challenging task to ascertain as to which party is telling truth as usually it is the oral evidence of one party against the oral evidence of the other. What happens in the four walls of the matrimonial home and what goes on inside the bed room of the couple is either known to the couple themselves or at the most to the members of the family, who are either residing there or in whose presence any incident takes place. Whether the couple has had sex and how many times or have had not had sex and what are the reasons; whether it is due to the denial or refusal on the part of the wife or of the husband can only be established through the creditworthiness of the testimonies of the parties themselves. Consequently, the absence of proper rebuttal or failure of not putting one’s case forward would certainly lead to acceptance of testimony of that witness whose deposition remains unchallenged. In the present case, the testimony of the respondent that the appellant was never responsive and was like a dead wood when he had sexual intercourse with her remained unrebutted. It is not thus that the respondent had sex with her wife only about 10-15 times from the date of his marriage within a period of five months, but the cruel act of the appellant of denying sex to the respondent FAO 185/01 Page 16 of 19 especially on the very first night and then not to actively participate in the sex even for the said limited period for which no contrary suggestion was given by the appellant to the respondent in his cross- examination. The respondent has also successfully proved on record that the appellant did not participate in the customary rituals of dud mundri and that of chudha ceremony, which caused grave mental cruelty to the respondent. It is a matter of common knowledge that after the marriage, certain customary rituals are performed and the purpose of these rituals is to cement the bond of marriage. The question whether there was a refusal on the part of the respondent not to perform the ritual of dud-mundari and chudha ceremony is difficult to be answered as on one hand, the appellant has alleged that she had duly participated in the ceremonies while on the other hand the respondent has taken a stand that there was refusal on the part of the appellant to participate in the ceremonies. No doubt the testimony of the respondent has been supported by the evidence of his father and there is no corroborative evidence from the side of the appellant, although her brother had accompanied her in doli and in such backdrop, adverse inference thus has to be drawn against the appellant for not producing her brother in evidence who could be the FAO 185/01 Page 17 of 19 best witness to prove the defence of the appellant alleging her participation in the dud-mundari ceremony. Undeniably, these customary ceremonies are part of the marriage ceremony and refusal of the same that too in the presence of the family members of the husband would be an act of cruelty on the part of the wife. The appellant has also failed to prove any demand of dowry made by the respondent or his family members as no evidence to this effect was led by the appellant. The appellant herein also filed criminal complaints against the respondent and his family members and later withdrew the same. Undoubtedly, it is the right of the victim to approach the police and CAW cell to complain the conduct of the offending spouse, however, frivolous and vexatious complaints like in the present case led to cause mental torture and harassment to the respondent and his family members. Thus, taking into account the conduct of the appellant in totality, this court is of the view that the same amounts to causing mental cruelty to the respondent.
12. Before parting with the judgment, this court would like to observe that the sex starved marriages are becoming an undeniable epidemic as the urban living conditions today mount an unprecedented pressure on couples. The sanctity of sexual FAO 185/01 Page 18 of 19 relationship and its role in reinvigorating the bond of marriage is getting diluted and as a consequence more and more couples are seeking divorce due to sexual incompatibility and absence of sexual satisfaction. As already stated above, to quantify as to how many times a healthy couple should have sexual intercourse is not for this court to say as some couples can feel wholly inadequate and others just fine without enough sex. “That the twain shall become one flesh, so that they are no more twain but one” is the real purpose of marriage and sexual intercourse is a means, and an integral one of achieving this oneness in marriage.
13. This Court therefore, does not find any kind of illegality or perversity in the findings given by the learned Trial Court in the impugned judgment dated 12.2.2001 and the same is accordingly upheld. The present appeal filed by the appellant is devoid of any merits and the same is hereby dismissed.
KAILASH GAMBHIR, J
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