Money Demanded for renovation of house is not dowry.

Excerpt:

In the instant case, `1,00,000/- were demanded for the repair and re-construction of the house in which the complainant (wife) was living along with her husband and other family members. Therefore, it was merely in the nature of loan and cannot be termed as ‘dowry demand’.

The said Act also cannot be said to be willful conduct, which is likely to drive a woman to commit suicide or caused grave injury or danger to life, limb or health of the woman. It also cannot be said that the said Act in demanding the loan for re-construction/repair of the house, in which the wife is also living with the husband amounts to unlawful demand so as to be covered in definition of cruelty given under Section 498-A IPC.

Punjab-Haryana High Court
Harjit Singh vs State Of Punjab & Anr on 28 November, 2014
            CRR No.454 of 2014 (O&M)                                                   -1-

                       IN THE HIGH COURT OF PUNJAB AND HARYANA
                                     AT CHANDIGARH

                                           Criminal Revision No.454 of 2014 (O&M)
                                           Date of Decision: November 28, 2014

            Harjit Singh                                           .... Petitioner

                                                 vs.

            State of Punjab and another                            .... Respondent

            CORAM: HON'BLE MR. JUSTICE KULDIP SINGH

            Present:            Mr. Arun Takhi, Advocate for the petitioner.

                                Mr. Vikram Bishnoi, Asstt. Advocate General, Punjab.

                                Ms. Kuldeep Kaur Ghuman, Amicus Curiae
                                for respondent No.2.

            1. Whether Reporters of Local Newspapers may be allowed to see
            the judgment ? Yes.
            2. To be referred to the Reporters or not ? Yes.
            3. Whether the judgment should be reported in the Digest? Yes.

                                                 ***

Kuldip Singh J.

Harjit Singh, husband of respondent No.2 Davinder Kaur has filed this revision petition against the judgment dated 11.04.2012 passed by learned Judicial Magistrate 1st Class, Hoshiarpur, vide which he was convicted under Section 498-A IPC and sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for two years and to pay a fine of `2,000/-, in default thereof to further undergo rigorous imprisonment for fifteen days. He has also challenged the judgment dated 03.01.2014 passed by learned Addl. Sessions Judge (Adhoc) Fast Track Court, Hoshiarpur, vide which the appeal against the judgment of learned Judicial Magistrate 1st Class, Hoshiarpur was dismissed. SARITA RANI 2014.12.12 10:23 I attest to the accuracy and authenticity of this document Chandigarh However, the sentence awarded to the accused-revisionist was reduced from two years to one year while maintaining the sentence of fine.

Briefly stated, the facts of the case are that Davinder Kaur instituted a criminal complaint against her husband (present revisionist) and other family members under Sections 406 and 498-A IPC, in which she had stated that she was married with Harjit Singh, revisionist on 25.03.1996. She levelled the allegations that all the dowry articles demanded by the accused/revisionist (Harjit Singh and his family members) were given to them as per the list attached with the complaint. All the accused were harassing her from the very beginning. Husband of the complainant used to maltreat and beat her and pressurize her to bring more dowry in the shape of money from her parents. From the wedlock, two children i.e. one son, namely Amrik Singh and one daughter namely Satwinder Kaur were born. Son Amrik Singh was snatched forcibly from her, whereas daughter Satwinder Kaur was living with her. She stated that the revisionist- accused has misappropriated the dowry articles. She had further stated that Harjit Singh (accused-revisionist) was putting pressure upon her to bring `1,00,000/- from her parents for repairing and re- construction of the house, where all the accused were residing. The complainant took `1,00,000/- from her parents and handed over the same to Harjit Singh (accused-revisionist). Accused-revisionist Harjit Singh then handed over the same to his brother’s wife (accused no.5), Jaswinder Kaur, who used the amount to meet the SARITA RANI 2014.12.12 10:23 I attest to the accuracy and authenticity of this document Chandigarh expenditures of the house and kept the remaining amount in her pocket. It was further alleged that the accused was residing jointly in one house and all of them were maltreating her. It was further alleged that dowry articles were not returned . The accused-revisionist then started putting pressure upon her to bring `2,00,000/- from her father as he had sold some property in Aslamabad in Hoshiarpur, even though, her father was suffering from paralysis and was in need of money. Allegations of insulting and not coming present before the Panchayat and initiating litigation between the parties under Section 9 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 were also levelled against the accused.

Before the trial court, accused-revisionist along with his father, mother and brother and brother’s wife were summoned. However, after the conclusion of the trial, the learned Judicial Magistrate 1st Class, Hoshiarpur convicted the present revisionist under Section 498-A IPC and acquitted him of the charges under Section 406 IPC. All the remaining accused were acquitted of the charges levelled against them. The appeal filed by the accused- revisionist was dismissed by the leaned Addl. Sessions Judge, Hoshiarpur with a modification in sentence awarded to him i.e. from two years to one year.

I have heard learned counsel of the parties and have also carefully gone through the case file.

A perusal of the judgment of the trial court shows that the allegations proved before the trial court were that accused-revisionist SARITA RANI 2014.12.12 10:23 I attest to the accuracy and authenticity of this document Chandigarh Harjit Singh had put a pressure on his wife, respondent No.2 to bring `1,00,000/- from her father for the repair and re-construction of the house, where accused and his family members were residing. Accordingly, she brought `1,00,000/- from her parents and handed over the same to her husband Harjit Singh, who further handed over the same to Jaswinder Kaur i.e. his brother’s wife (accused No.5). Even the Appellate Court while considering the facts and circumstances found that the said allegations have been proved.

It is not a denying fact that the complainant was allegedly shunted out from the house in January 2005. The demand of money for repair and re-construction of the house was made much earlier.

Now, the question would arise that whether the asking of money from the parents of the wife for the repair and re-construction of the house, in which the parties were living with other family members, amounts to maltreatment and falls under the mischief of Section 498-A IPC.

Section 498-A IPC provides as under:

“498A. Husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty Whoever, being the husband or the relative of the husband of a woman, subjects such woman to cruelty shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine.

Explanation –For the purpose of this section, “cruelty” means–

(a) any wilful conduct which is of such a nature as is likely to drive the woman to commit suicide or to cause grave injury or danger to life, limb or health (whether mental or physical) of the woman; or

(b) harassment of the woman where such harassment is with a view to coercing her or any person related to her to meet any unlawful demand for any property or valuable security or is on account of failure by her or any person related to her to meet such demand.

The matter was examined by the Division Bench of this SARITA RANI 2014.12.12 10:23 I attest to the accuracy and authenticity of this document Chandigarh Court in “Hari Singh vs. State of Punjab, 2002(3) R.C.R. (Criminal) 541, wherein it was held that demand of money for construction of house cannot be termed as demand of dowry. The matter was also examined by Hon’ble the Apex Court in “Vipin Jaiswal vs. State of A.P” (Represented by Public Prosecutors) 2013(2), R.C.R. (Criminal) 342. In the said case, the husband had demanded `50,000/- after the six months of the marriage for purchase of computer to start business. The Hon’ble Apex Court held that the demand is not in connection with marriage and was not really a ‘dowry demand’ within the meaning of Section 2 of the Dowry Prohibition Act.

In the instant case, `1,00,000/- were demanded for the repair and re-construction of the house in which the complainant (wife) was living along with her husband and other family members. Therefore, it was merely in the nature of loan and cannot be termed as ‘dowry demand’.

The said Act also cannot be said to be willful conduct, which is likely to drive a woman to commit suicide or caused grave injury or danger to life, limb or health of the woman. It also cannot be said that the said Act in demanding the loan for re-construction/repair of the house, in which the wife is also living with the husband amounts to unlawful demand so as to be covered in definition of cruelty given under Section 498-A IPC.

Therefore, I am of the view that learned Judicial Magistrate 1st Class, Hoshiarpur and learned Addl. Sessions Judge SARITA RANI 2014.12.12 10:23 I attest to the accuracy and authenticity of this document Chandigarh (Adhoc) Fast Track Court, Hoshiarpur fell in error in convicting and sentencing the accused-revisionist under Section 498-A IPC on the basis of demand and acceptance of `1,00,000/- for repair and re- construction of the house, where parties along with other family members were living together. Therefore, I am of the view that both the courts have wrongly appreciated the law on the said point. Accordingly, the impugned judgments are set aside and the present revision petition stands allowed. The revisionist is acquitted of the charges framed against him.

                                                           (KULDIP SINGH)
            November 28, 2014                                 JUDGE
            sarita

                                  Refer to reporter. Yes

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