Patnaikuni Madhuri @ Lakshmi Kumari and ors. Vs. Baravelli Sandhya and anr. – Court Judgment
|Court||Andhra Pradesh High Court|
|Case Number||Criminal Petition No. 3670 of 2007|
|Judge||G.V. Seethapathy, J.|
|Acts||Dowry Prohibition Act – Sections 3 and 4; Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) , 1973 – Sections 161 and 482; Indian Penal Code (IPC), 1860 – Sections 342, 354 and 498A|
|Appellant||Patnaikuni Madhuri @ Lakshmi Kumari and ors.|
|Respondent||Baravelli Sandhya and anr.|
|Appellant Advocate||T. Pradyumnakumar Reddy, Adv.|
|Respondent Advocate||B. Adinarayana Rao, Adv. for Respondent No. 1 and; Public Prosecutor for Respondent No. 2|
…..74; 1993 lab ic 1858 overruled]. – learned counsel for the first respondent-complainant on the other hand contended that specific allegations are made against the petitioners, a3 to a5 as well to the effect that they also made demand for additional dowry of rupees thirty lakh after ashada masam was over. the question, therefore, is what remedial measures can be taken to prevent abuse of the well intentioned provision……during the investigation, omnibus allegations pertaining to the alleged demand of additional dowry and alleged harassment over the same are made against the petitioners, which is not sufficient to constitute the alleged offences. learned counsel for the first respondent-complainant on the other hand contended that specific allegations are made against the petitioners, a3 to a5 as well to the effect that they also made demand for additional dowry of rupees thirty lakh after ashada masam was over.5. first accused is the husband of first respondent herein. a2 is the father of a1 and petitioners a3 to a5. even as per the charge-sheet, a1 and a2 are residents of ameerpet, hyderabad, while a3 is a resident of new delhi, a4 is a resident of tekkali and a5 is resident of patakonda in…..
ORDERG.V. Seethapathy, J.
1. This criminal petition is filed under Section 482, Cr.P.C. by A3 to A5 in PRC No. 14 of 2007 on the file of I Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Visakhapatnam, seeking to quash the proceedings against them for the offences under Sections 498A, 354, 342, IPC and Sections 3 and 4 of Dowry Prohibition Act.
2. The first respondent herein gave a complaint to the police against the petitioner and 2 others A1 and A2 and the same was registered as Cr. No. 581 of 2006 and after due investigation, police filed a charge-sheet before the First Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Visakhapatnam and the learned Magistrate has taken cognizance of the offences under Sections 498A, 354, 342, IPC and Sections 3 and 4 of Dowry Prohibition Act against all the accused in PRC No. 14 of 2007 and issued process against them. Aggrieved by the same, the petitioners A3 to A5 who are sisters of Al, husband of first respondent-complainant, filed the present application for quashing the proceedings against them on the ground that they were all married long back and have been residing with their husbands and children at different places and they had absolutely nothing to do with the alleged offences and they are unnecessarily implicated just because they happened to be sisters of Al.
3. Arguments of the learned Counsel for the petitioners and learned Counsel for the first respondent and the learned Public Prosecutor appearing for 2nd respondent are heard. Records are perused.
4. Learned Counsel for the petitioners mainly contended that the thrust of the allegations are made in the complaint only against A1 and A2 and even the statements recorded in 161, Cr.P.C. during the investigation, omnibus allegations pertaining to the alleged demand of additional dowry and alleged harassment over the same are made against the petitioners, which is not sufficient to constitute the alleged offences. Learned Counsel for the first respondent-complainant on the other hand contended that specific allegations are made against the petitioners, A3 to A5 as well to the effect that they also made demand for additional dowry of rupees thirty lakh after Ashada masam was over.
5. First accused is the husband of first respondent herein. A2 is the father of A1 and petitioners A3 to A5. Even as per the charge-sheet, A1 and A2 are residents of Ameerpet, Hyderabad, while A3 is a resident of New Delhi, A4 is a resident of Tekkali and A5 is resident of Patakonda in Srikakulam District. It is not disputed that the petitioners A3 to A5 were all married long prior to the marriage of A1 with first respondent and that the petitioners ever since have been residing with their husbands in different places away from the place of residence of A1 and first respondent. According to the prosecution, at the time of betrothal, A1 to A3 demanded dowry of Rs. 6,50,000, Rs. 1,00,000 towards adapaduchu laanchanatn, gold ornaments of four tulas and one lakh rupees for A1 for purchase of new cloths, etc. and that an amount of Rs. 7,35,700 shallbe credited to the account of A1 from the account of complainant’s father and that all the said demands were made by the complainant’s father and that subsequent to the marriage, all the accused started making demands for additional dowry and subjected the complainant to harassment on that score.
6. A perusal of the charge-sheet shows that specific allegations are no doubt made against A1 and A2 pertaining to the alleged demand for additional dowry and also harassment and ill-treatment of the complainant and specific allegations pertaining to Section 354, IPC are also made against A2. So far as the petitioners A3 to A5 are concerned, the only allegation made against them is that A1 and A2 subjected the complainant to harassment at the instigation of A3 to A5 and A3 used to contact A1 and A2 everyday over phone and instigate them to beat the complainant and that on the instigation of A3 to A5, A1 drove the complainant out of the house. Even the alleged instigation of A3 to A5 does not find any mention in the statements under Section 161, Cr.P.C. of L.Ws. 1 to 5, copy of which is filed along with the material papers. When admittedly, petitioners A3 to A5 are residing in different places and away from the place of occurrence, the possibility of petitioners instigating A1 to harass the complainant is too remote. The further allegation that the petitioners were instigating A1 over telephone is also equally uninspiring, especially, when no such allegation was made in the statements recorded during the investigation.
7. In Sushilkumar Sharma v. Union of India and Ors. III (2005) CCR 43 (SC) : II (2005) DMC 325 (SC) : AIR 2005 SCW 3569, the Apex Court observed as follows:
The object of the provision is prevention of the dowry menace. But as has been rightly contended by the petitioner many instances have come to light where the complaints are not bona fide and have been filled with oblique motive. In such cases acquittal of the accused does not in all cases wipe out the ignominy suffered during and prior to trial. Sometimes adverse media coverage adds to the misery. The question, therefore, is what remedial measures can be taken to prevent abuse of the well intentioned provision. Merely because the provision is constitutional and intra vires, does not give a licence to unscrupulous persons to wreak personal vendetta or unleash harassment. It may, therefore, become necessary for the Legislature to find out ways how the makers of frivolous complaints or allegations can be appropriately dealt with. Till then the Courts have to take care of the situation within the existing framework. As noted above the object is to strike at the roots of dowry menace. But by misuse of the provisions a new legal terrorism can be unleashed. The provision is intended to be used as a shield and not an assassin’s weapon.
8. In Kans Raj v. State of Punjab and Ors. : 2000CriLJ2993 , the Supreme Court observed as follows:
For the fault of the husband, the in-laws or the other relations cannot, in all cases, be held to be involved in the demand of dowry. In cases where such accusations are made, the overt acts attributed to persons other than husband are required to be proved beyond reasonable doubt. By mere conjectures and implications such relations cannot be held guilty for the offence relating to dowry deaths. A tendency has, however, developed for roping in all relations of the in-laws of the deceased wives in the matters of dowry deaths which, if not discouraged, is likely to affect the case of the prosecution even against the real culprits. In their over-enthusiasm and anxiety to seek conviction for maximum people, the parents of the deceased have been found to be making efforts for invovling other relations which ultimately weaken the case of the prosecution even against the real accused as appears to have happened in the instant case.
9. In a similar situation, wherein also it is alleged that the husband was harassing the wife due to the instigation over phone by his parents and sisters, this Court in Crl. P. No. 719 of 2004 dated 2.9.2004 held that ‘continuance of proceedings against the petitioner therein, who was sister of the husband for the offence under Section 498A, IPC based on the assumption of the de facto complainant that the petitioner instigated her husband A1 to demand more dowry is only an abuse of process of law.’
10. What all the complainant stated during her statement under Section 161, Cr.P.C. is that whenever there was a telephone call from the petitioners, her husband used to beat her. The further allegation is that after competition of Ashada masam, when the complainant and her parents telephoned to the accused informing that she may be taken back to Al’s residence at Bangalore, all of them demanded additional dowry of Rs. 30,00,000. The allegation that the complainant’s parents have telephoned to all the accused and all of them demanded additional dowry, sounds very vague and omnibus. In the absence of any specific allegation attributing any specific overt acts against any of the petitioners A3 to A5 pertaining to the alleged demand for additional dowry and subjection of the complainant to harassment and ill-treatment, continuance of proceedings against them based on the general and omnibus allegations of sweeping nature, is nothing but abuse of process of law, in view of the principles laid down in the decisions stated supra.
As the material on record does not disclose any prima facie case against the petitioners A3 to A5, it is held that further proceedings against them in PRC No. 14 of 2007 are nothing but abuse of process of law and, hence, they are liable to be quashed and they are accordingly quashed.
11. In the result, the criminal petition is allowed quashing further proceedings against the petitioners A3 to A5 in PRC No. 14 of 2007 on the file of I Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Visakhapatnam.