Sunday, November 24, 2013

Delhi High Court - Truth losing significance because of the ego of the litigants to see that in-laws should be hanged - Misuse abuse of 498a 304B

Delhi High Court - Truth losing significance because of the ego of the litigants to see that in-laws should be hanged - Misuse abuse of 498a 304B  


BAIL APPLN.1036/2013
Reserved on : 29 th October, 2013
Date of decision : 19 th November, 2013

BISHAN DASS DURGA    ..... Petitioner
Through :  Mr. Anurag Jain, Adv.


STATE NCT OF DELHI      ..... Respondent
Through :  Mr. Karan Singh, APP.
Mr. Sanjay Suri, Adv. for complainant.
S.I. Gopal, P.S. Shakar Pur,  Delhi.



1.  The petitioner  is seeking regular bail in FIR No.835/2012 under  Sections 498A/304B/34 IPC and Section 4 of Dowry Prohibition Act.

2.  The petitioner is the father-in-law of  Payal.  On 12 th November, 2012  at about 6:00 am, the petitioner  found Payal hanging from the ceiling fan whereupon he  immediately  informed the complainant, Naresh Batra (father of Payal) who  along with his wife,  son  and  daughter  reached the petitioner‟s house. The deceased was taken to Shanti Mukund Hospital where she was declared dead.  The complainant lodged the FIR in which he made allegations of harassment and demands against the accused persons. It was alleged that the deceased was beaten by her husband and  mother-in-law. It was further alleged that money and gifts were demanded within 10-15 days of marriage; separate house was demanded  for son-in-law and recently Renault Duster  was demanded.  As per the post-mortem report, the cause  of death is asphyxia due to ante-mortem hanging.

3.  On 1st May, 2013, the police filed the chargesheet after investigation against the petitioner  and the aforesaid family members of the petitioner. 

4.  The hearing of this  bail application  was deferred from time to time  till  the  recording of the  statements  of the six material witnesses by the Trial Court. The statement of all the six material witnesses have now  been recorded. Copies of the statements have been placed on record by the petitioner. 

5.  PW-1, Jasvinder Maakheja, an independent material witness,lives on the second floor of the building in which the accused persons  are  residing. On the fateful morning of 12th November, 2012, PW-1 went to the third floor and saw Payal hanging from the ceiling fan. PW-1 told the accused persons to bring down the body whereupon the accused  -  Saurabh cut  the  „chunni‟ and brought down the dead body and kept it on the bed.  PW-1  tried to revive the deceased by pressing her chest while accused - Gaurav gave her mouth to mouth  resuscitation. PW-1  informed the police.  The parents and the other family members of Payal reached the accused persons‟  residence  within five minutes. PW-1  accompanied the body of Payal to the hospital.  PW-1 deposed that Gaurav (husband of the deceased) tried to revive Payal many times on the way to the hospital.

6.  PW-1 to PW-6 have made some important admissions in their cross-examination.  PW-2 to PW-5  deposed  that Payal knew Gaurav before marriage and they worked together on various projects of interior decoration before and after marriage. PW-6, Jagdeep Madan,  deposed that  Payal and Gaurav  had a  love affair which resulted in their marriage. PW 6 deposed that Payal told her that she had not told anything to her parents and she had married Gaurav against their wishes. PW-1  deposed  that accused had a Honda City Car, two motorcycles and a scooter prior to the marriage of Payal. The motorcycles and scooter were used by the sons of the petitioner and one more bike was purchased by the petitioner after the marriage of Payal. PW-2 also  deposed  that the accused had a Honda City car and bikes. PW-2  deposed  that Gaurav was having a furniture showroom in Geeta Colony.  PW-1 deposed  that Payal never complained of dowry demands, harassment or torture though she demanded separation from her in laws one-and-a-half months before her death. PW-1 further deposed  that he never saw any quarrel between the deceased and her in-laws and Payal being beaten up by the accused persons. PW-2 further deposed that he never made any complaint during the lifetime of Payal to any authority for harassment or demands.    

7.  PW-2 to 5 are the father, mother, brother and sister of the deceased, made material improvements in their deposition made before the Court vis-à-vis the statement made to the police/SDM earlier. They were confronted with their previous statements at the time of cross-examination.  The following improvements were made by the aforesaid witnesses:-

-  The demand of more gifts was made on Holi as the gifts were not enough to distribute among relatives on Holi.
-  The mother-in-law taunted  Payal that her family  just came to have dinner on her birthday without any gifts for them
-  On the occasion of “Nirjala Ekadashi”,  the  mother-in-law was not happy on seeing the  fruits, clothes and cash  sent by the father of the deceased  and she questioned  the deceased  what Gaurav saw in  Payal  and that she could get 20 others like her for Gaurav.
-  The deceased was beaten up by her husband on the road and that the deceased came to her parent‟s house and two days  later,the petitioner with Gaurav came to the parent‟s house   and apologized and assured that demands of car and bikes would not be made and took the deceased back.
-  Three to four months after the marriage,  on  Raksha Bandhan suits,  diamond ring and  Rs.5,100/-  were given to Payal and Gaurav whereupon  Payal‟s  brothers-in-law argued and quarreled with her that they had not got anything for them.
-  The petitioner, his wife and Gaurav demanded  a Duster Car and brothers-in-law demanded motor cycles.
-  PW-4 took dry fruits, sweets, Rs.2,100/-  for Gaurav,  Rs.1,100/-for other family members and a fully automatic washing machine on Diwali to which the mother-in-law quarreled with Payal about gold coins and clothes not being given and that PW 4 assured that the same would be given next morning. 

8.  The defence  set up by  the accused  in  the cross-examination of the six witnesses is that Gaurav and Payal were having a love affair for more than three-and-a-half years; Payal‟s father came to know of the said love affair about  two to  three months before the marriage; Gaurav‟s family approached Payal‟s family for marriage in pursuance to which  Gaurav and Payal got married on  23
rdFebruary, 2012;  Payal was insisting her husband to separate from the joint family house  immediately  to which Gaurav was  not agreeable  as he wanted to  separate  after Diwali;  Payal was a stubborn,  aggressive and emotional girl;  Payal wanted to lead an independent modern life with her husband separate from her in laws;  Payal attempted to commit suicide  twice  before;  Payal purchased Phenyl for committing suicide if Gaurav did not separate from the joint family;  Payal committed suicide because of her obstinacy for shifting immediately; Payal‟s sister also threatened to
commit suicide as she did not want to stay with her husband;  the accused  persons have  furniture showrooms  at Geeta Colony,  New Lahore Colony, Shastri Nagar,  a house at Anarkali  and a plot allotted by DDA at Rohini  besides the 200 sq. yard house at Bank Enclave; the interior decoration of the house of accused was done by Payal;  the  relationship between Payal and the accused were cordial;  the atmosphere at the joint family house was calm and cordial;  photographs show Payal being happy with Gaurav and the other accused persons in various events;  Payal is shown feeding cake to Himanshu  in  a  clipping of Himanshu‟s (one of the coaccused and brother-in-law of Payal) birthday on 21st August, 2012;  Payal stayed with her mother-in-law for her cataract operation at the Centre for  Sight  for three days;  the complainant and his family have  leveled false allegations against the accused persons regarding demand of dowry and torture out of emotion and vengeance;  the complainant engaged a private counsel from the very beginning; the complainant‟s family gave statements to the police after consulting a lawyer and taking advise from the police.

9.  In  Narender Singh Arora  v.  State, 2010 (173) DLT 244, this Court noted that whenever a woman dies an unnatural death within seven years of her marriage at in-laws' house, whatever be the cause of death, the  parents of the deceased want the  in-laws  to be hanged. This Court observed truth is losing significance because of the ego of the litigants to see that in-laws should be hanged.This Court further observed that normally in-laws are convicted on the  testimonies of parents of the girl who, in a fit of anger or because they had lost their daughter, are not prepared to believe that their daughter could commit suicide for any other reason. The testimony given by the complainant in such cases is not a normal testimony. The deceased‟s father and other family members who deposed in the court testified after the death of their daughter and their testimony is coloured with the loss they suffered due to sudden death of the daughter little realizing that she committed suicide not because of dowry demands but could be because of her fragile and sensitive nature.This Court  further  observed  that suicide is a known phenomenon of human nature. Suicides are committed by living human beings for various reasons, some are  not able to bear the normal stresses which are common in life; some are not able to cope up with the circumstances in which they are placed; and some commit suicide because of frustration of not achieving the desired goals. There are many cases where students commit suicide because they failed to achieve certain percentage of marks. Some commit suicide because they are not able to retain top position, some commit suicide because they are not able to cope with the demands of life. Some commit suicide because they suffer sudden loss, some commit suicide out of fear of being caught. There are various reasons for which suicides are committed by men and women. All suicides are unnatural deaths. Suicide is a complex phenomenon. One, who commits suicide, is not alive to disclose as to what was going on in his or her mind when he or she committed suicide. There is no presumption that every suicide committed by a married woman in her in-laws' house or at her parents' house has to be because she was suffering harassment at the hands of her husband or her in-laws.
10.  In  Hari Gopal Wadhwa  v.  State, (143) 2007 DLT 210, this Court observed that no doubt, an unnatural death is always a cause for concern and if proved that the daughter-in-law of the family was compelled to take her own life as it was rendered not worth living by the in-laws, they must suffer. But personal liberties have to be preserved, meaning thereby, in an appropriate case, accused has to be set free till trial concludes.

11.  On careful examination of the statements of the six witnesses, this Court is of the prima facie view that although it is difficult to say ultimately what shape  the trial would take after completion of the entire evidence, but if ultimately it is found on evidence that Payal was a very sensitive person and committed suicide because she could not bear the pressure of living in joint family, the possibility of the  petitioner succeeding in establishing their defence cannot be ruled out.

12.  The petitioner as well as four other family members namely, his wife  and  three  sons  including the husband of the deceased  are in custody since 13th November, 2012.

13.  The petitioner  himself had informed the complainant about the demise of Payal without any delay.

14.  There was no ante-mortem injury on the  body  of the deceased.

15.  There is no possibility of the petitioner influencing any witness  since the statements of the six material  witnesses have already been recorded by the learned Trial Court.

16.  There is no material to show that if released on bail, the petitioner will misuse the liberty granted to him to subvert the justice.

17.  In view of the aforesaid, the bail application is allowed  and the petitioner is ordered to be released on bail on his furnishing personal bond in the sum of Rs.1,00,000/-  with one surety in the like amount to the satisfaction of the concerned Court. The petitioner is directed to surrender his passport, if any, with the Trial Court and  he  shall not leave the country  without  prior permission of the Court.

18.  All  observations made hereinabove for the purpose of dealing with the bail application  and  shall not  be considered at the time of trial of the case.

19.  Dasti.
NOVEMBER 19, 2013

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Supreme court Quashes says Courts should be cautious in implicating family members’ in dowry case

Supreme court Quashes says Courts should be cautious in implicating family members’ in dowry case 

Supreme Court of India Geeta Mehrotra & Anr. vs State Of U.P. & Anr. on 17 October, 2012

Author: G S MisraBench: T.S. Thakur, Gyan Sudha Misra, , , ,




 APPEAL NO. 1674 OF 2012(Arising out of SLP (Crl.) No. 10547/2010)

Geeta Mehrotra & Anr. ..Appellants
State of U.P. & Anr. . Respondents

Geeta Mehrotra & Anr. vs State Of U.P. & Anr. on 17 October, 2012
Head Note:-
Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 - Section 482 - Indian Penal Code, 1860 - Sections 323, 498A, 504 and 506 - Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 - Sections 3 and 4 - Quashing of FIR - Family members of a person should not be implicated in a dowry case just because their names have been mentioned in the complaint without any specific allegation levelled against them.
Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 - Section 482 - Indian Penal Code, 1860 - Sections 323, 498A, 504 and 506 - Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 - Sections 3 and 4 - Quashing of FIRMere casual reference of the names of the family members in a matrimonial dispute without allegation of active involvement in the matter would not justify taking cognizance against them.  
Held:- The courts are expected to adopt a cautious approach in matters of quashing specially in cases of matrimonial dispute whether the FIR in fact discloses commission of an offence by the relatives or the FIR prima facie discloses a case of over-implication by involving the entire family at instance of the complainant, who is out to settle her scores arising out of teething problem or skirmish of domestic bickering while settling down in her new matrimonial surrounding.
Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 - Section 482 - Indian Penal Code, 1860 - Sections 323, 498A, 504 and 506 - Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 - Sections 3 and 4 - Quashing of FIR - Family members should not be implicated unless FIR discloses specific allegations against the relatives who are prima facie not found to have indulged in physical and mental torture of the complainant-wife. 
Held:- If the FIR as it stands does not disclose specific allegation against accused more so against the co-accused specially in a matter arising out of matrimonial bickering, it would be clear abuse of legal and judicial process to mechanically send the named accused in the FIR to undergo trial.
Practice and ProcedureQuashing of FIR - If the FIR did not disclose the commission of an offence, the court would be justified in quashing the proceedings preventing the abuse of the process of law.

1. This appeal by special leave in which we granted leave has been filed by the appellants against the order dated 6.9.2010 passed by the High Court of Judicature at Allahabad in Crl. Miscellaneous Application No.22714/2007 whereby the High Court had been pleased to dispose of the application moved by the appellants under Section 482 Cr.P.C. for quashing the order of the Magistrate taking cognizance against the appellants under Sections 498A/323/504/506 IPC read with Section 3/4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act with an observation that the question of territorial jurisdiction cannot be properly decided by the High Court under Section 482 Cr.P.C. for want of adequate facts. It was, therefore, left open to the appellants to move the trial court for dropping the proceedings on the ground of lack of territorial jurisdiction. The High Court however granted interim protection to the appellants by directing the authorities not to issue coercive process against the appellants until disposal of the application filed by the appellants with a further direction to the trial court to dispose of the application if moved by the appellants, within a period of two months from the date of moving the application. The application under Section 482 Cr.P.C. was thus disposed of by the High Court.
2. The appellants in spite of the liberty granted to them to move the trial court, have filed this appeal for quashing the proceedings which had been initiated on the basis of a case lodged by the respondent No.2 Smt. Shipra Mehrotra (earlier known as Shipra Seth) againsther husband, father-in-law, mother-in-law, brother-inlaw and sister-in-law. This appeal has been preferred by the sister-in-law, who is appellant No.1 and brotherin- law of the complainant, who is appellant No.2.
3. The case emerges out of the first information report lodged by respondent No.2 Smt. Shipra Mehrotra under Sections 498A/323/504/506 IPC read with Section 3/4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act bearing F.I.R.No. 52/2004. The F.I.R. was registered at Mahila Thana Daraganj, Allahabad wherein the complainant alleged that she was married to Shyamji Mehrotra s/o Balbir Saran who was living at Eros Garden, Charmswood Village, Faridabad, Suraj Kund Road at Faridabad Haryana as per the Hindu marriage rites and customs. Prior to marriage the complainant and her family members were told by Shyamji Mehrotra and his elder brother Ramji Mehrotra who is appellant No.2 herein and their mother Smt. Kamla Mehrotra and her sister Geeta Mehrotra who is appellant No.1 herein that Shyamji is employed as a Team Leader in a top I.T. Company in Chennai and is getting salary ofRs.45,000/- per month. After negotiation between the parents of the complainant and the accused parties, the marriage of the complainant Shipra Seth (later Shipra Mehrotra) and Shyamji Mehrotra was performed after which the respondent-complainant left for the house of her in-laws.
4. It was stated that the atmosphere in the house was peaceful for sometime but soon after the wedding, when all the relatives left, the maid who cooked meals was first of all paid-off by the aforesaid four persons who then told the complainant that from now onwards, the complainant will have to prepare food for the family. In addition, the above mentioned people started taunting and scolding her on trivial issues. The complainant also came to know that Shyamji was not employed anywhere and always stayed in the house. Shyamji gradually took away all the money which the complainant had with her and then told her that her father had not given dowry properly, therefore, she should get Rupees five lakhs from her father in order to enable him to start business, because he was notgetting any job. When the complainant clearly declined and stated that she will not ask her parents for money, Shyamji, on instigation of other accused-family members, started beating her occasionally. To escape every day torture and financial status of the family, the complainant took up a job in a Call Centre at Convergys on 17.2.2003 where the complainant had to do night shifts due to which she used to come back home at around 3 a.m. in the morning. Just on her return from work, the household people started playing bhajan cassettes after which she had to getup at 7’o clock in the morning to prepare and serve food to all the members in the family. Often on falling asleep in the morning, Shyamji, Kamla Devi and Geeta Mehrotra tortured the complainant every day mentally and physically. Ramji Mehrotra often provoked the other three family members to torture and often used to make the complainant feel sad by making inappropriate statements about the complainant and her parents. Her husband Shyamji also took away the salary from the complainant.
5. After persistent efforts, Shyamji finally got a job in Chennai and he went to Chennai for the job in May, 2003. But, it is alleged that there was no change in his behaviour even after going to Chennai. The complainant often called him on phone to talk to him but he always did irrelevant conversation. He never spoke properly with the complainant whenever he visited home and often used to hurl filthy abuses. The complainant states that she often wept and tolerated the tortures of the accused persons for a long time but did not complain to her family members, as that would have made them feel sad. At last, when the complainant realized that even her life was in danger, she was compelled to tell everything to her father on phone who was very upset on hearing her woes. On 15.7.2003 complainant heard some conversation of her mother-inlaw and sister-in-law from which it appeared to her that they want to kill the complainant in the night only. Thereupon the complainant apprised her father of the situation on phone to which her father replied that he will call back her father-in-law and she should go withhim immediately and he will come in the morning. The father-in-law Satish Dhawan and his wife who were living in NOIDA thereafter came in the night and somehow took the complainant to their home who also came to know of everything. The complainant’s father and brother later went to her matrimonial home on 16.7.2003. On seeing her father and brother, Kamla Mehrotra and Geeta Mehrotra started speaking loudly and started saying that Shyamji would be coming by the evening and so he should come in the evening for talking to them. Her father and brother then went away from there. That very day, her husband Shyamji and brother-in-law Ramji also reached home. On reaching there, Shyamji abused her on phone and told her to send her father.
6. When father and brother of the complainant went home in the evening, they were also insulted by all the four and video camera and tape were played and in the end they were told that they should leave from here. Insulted, they came back from there and then came back to Allahabad with the complainant. For manydays the complainant and her family members hoped that the situation would improve if the matter was resolved. Many times other people tried to persuade the in – laws but to no avail. Her brother went to their house to talk to her in – laws but it came to his knowledge that the in – laws had changed their house. After much effort, they came to know that the father-inlaw and mother-in-law started living at B-39, Brahma cooperative group housing society, block 7, sector-7, Dwarka, Delhi. On 19.09.04 evening, her father talked to Kamla Mehrotra and Geeta Mehrotra regarding the complainant using bad words and it was said that if her daughter came there she will be kicked out. After some time Shyamji rang up at complainant’s home but on hearing the complainant’s voice, he told her abusively that now she should not come his way and she should tell her father not to phone him in future. At approximately 10:30 pm in the night Ramji’s phone came to the complainant’s home. He used bad words while talking to her father and in the end said that he had got papers prepared in his defence and he may dowhatever he could but if he could afford to give Rs.10 lakhs then it should be conveyed after which he will reconsider the matter. If the girl was sent to his place without money, then even her dead body will not be found.
7. On hearing these talks of the accused, the complainant believed that her in-laws will not let the complainant enter their home without taking ten lakhs and if the complainant went there on her own, she will not be safe. Hence, she lodged the report wherein she prayed that the SHO Daraganj should be ordered to do the needful after registering the case against the accused Shyam Mehrotra, Ramji Mehrotra, Kamla Mehrotra and Geeta Mehrotra. Thus, in substance, the complainant related the bickering at her matrimonial home which made her life miserable in several ways and compelled her to leave her in-law’s place in order to live with her father where she lodged a police case as stated hereinbefore.
8. On the basis of the complaint, the investigating authorities at P.S. Daraganj, Allahabadstarted investigation of the case and thereafter the police submitted chargesheet against the appellants and other family members of the complainant’s husband.
9. Hence, the appellants who are sister and brother of the complainant’s husband filed petition under Section 482 Cr.P.C. for quashing of the chargesheet and the entire proceedings pending in the court of learned Judicial Magistrate, Court No.IV, Allahabad, inter-alia, on the ground that FIR has been lodged with mala fide intentions to harass the appellants and that no case was made out against the appellants as well as other family members. But the principal ground of challenge to the FIR was that the incident although was alleged to have taken place at Faridabad and the investigation should have been done there only, the complainant with mala fide intention in connivance with the father of the complainant, got the investigating officer to record the statements by visiting Ghaziabad which was beyond his territorial jurisdiction and cannot be construed as legal and proper investigation. It was also alleged that the father of thecomplainant got the arrest warrant issued through George Town Police Station, Allahabad, in spite of the cause of action having arisen at Allahabad.
10. This appeal has been preferred by Kumari Geeta Mehrotra i.e. the sister of the complainant’s husband and Ramji Mehrotra i.e. the elder brother of the complainant’s husband assailing the order of the High Court and it was submitted that the Hon’ble High Court ought to have appreciated that the complainant who had already obtained an ex-parte decree of divorce, is pursuing the present case through her father with the sole purpose to unnecessarily harass the appellants to extract money from them as all efforts of mediation had failed.
11. However, the grounds of challenge before this Court to the order of the High Court, inter alia is that the High Court had failed to appreciate that the investigation had been done by the authority without following due process of law which also lacked territorial jurisdiction. The relevant documents/parcha diary for deciding the territorial jurisdiction had been overlookedas the FIR has been lodged at Allahabad although the cause of action of the entire incident is alleged to have taken place at Faridabad (Haryana). It was, therefore, submitted that the investigating authorities of the Allahabad have traversed beyond the territorial limits which is clearly an abuse of the process of law and the High Court has failed to exercise its inherent powers under Section 482 Cr.P.C. in the facts and circumstances of this case and allowed the proceedings to go on before the trial court although it had no jurisdiction to adjudicate the same.
12. It was further averred that the High Court had failed to examine the facts of the FIR to see whether the facts stated in the FIR constitute any prima facie case making out an offence against the sister-inlaw and brother-in-law of the complainant and whether there was at all any material to constitute an offence against the appellants and their family members. Attention of this Court was further invited to the contradictions in the statement of the complainant and her father which indicate material contradictionsindicating that the complainant and her father have concocted the story to implicate the appellants as well as all their family members in a criminal case merely with a mala fide intention to settle her scores and extract money from the family of her ex-husband Shyamji Mehrotra and his family members.
13. On a perusal of the complaint and other materials on record as also analysis of the arguments advanced by the contesting parties in the light of the settled principles of law reflected in a catena of decisions, it is apparent that the High Court has not applied its mind on the question as to whether the case was fit to be quashed against the appellants and has merely disposed of the petition granting liberty to the appellants to move the trial court and raise contentions on the ground as to whether it has territorial jurisdiction to continue with the trial in the light of the averment that no part of the cause of action had arisen at Allahabad and the entire incident even as per the FIR had taken place at Faridabad.
14. The High Court further overlooked the fact that during the pendency of this case, the complainantrespondent No.2 has obtained an ex-parte decree of divorce against her husband Shyamji Mehrotra and the High Court failed to apply its mind whether any case could be held to have been made out against Kumari Geeta Mehrotra and Ramji Mehrotra, who are the unmarried sister and elder brother of the complainant’s ex-husband. Facts of the FIR even as it stands indicate that although a prima facie case against the husband Shyamji Mehrotra and some other accused persons may or may not be constituted, it surely appears to be a case where no ingredients making out a case against the unmarried sister of the accused Shyamji Mehrotra and his brother Ramji Mehrotra appear to be existing for even when the complainant came to her in-law’s house after her wedding, she has alleged physical and mental torture by stating in general that she had been ordered to do household activities of cooking meals for the whole family. But there appears to be no specific allegation against the sister and brother of thecomplainant’s husband as to how they could be implicated into the mutual bickering between the complainant and her husband Shyamji Mehrotra including his parents.
15. Under the facts and circumstance of similar nature in the case of Ramesh vs. State of Tamil Nadu reported in (2005) SCC (Crl.) 735 at 738 allegations were made in a complaint against the husband, the in-laws, husband’s brother and sister who were all the petitioners before the High Court wherein after registration of the F.I.R. and investigation, the charge sheet was filed by the Inspector of Police in the court of Judicial Magistrate III, Trichy. Thereupon, the learned magistrate took cognizance of the offence and issued warrants against the appellants on 13.2.2002. Four of the accused-appellants were arrested and released on bail by the magistrate at Mumbai. The appellants had filed petition under Section 482, Cr.P.C. before the Madras High Court for quashing the proceedings in complaint case on the file of the Judicial Magistrate III, Trichy. The High Court by the impugnedorder dismissed the petition observing that the grounds raised by the petitioners were all subject matters to be heard by the trial court for better appreciation after conducting full trial as the High Court was of the view that it was only desirable to dismiss the criminal original petition and the same was also dismissed. However, the High Court had directed the Magistrate to dispense with the personal attendance of the appellants.
16. Aggrieved by the order of the Madras High Court dismissing the petition under Section 482 Cr.P.C., the special leave petition was filed in this Court giving rise to the appeals therein where threefold contentions were raised viz., (i) that the allegations are frivolous and without any basis; (ii) even according to the FIR, no incriminating acts were done within the jurisdiction of Trichy Police Station and the court at Trichy and, therefore, the learned magistrate lacked territorial jurisdiction to take cognizance of the offence and (iii) taking cognizance of the alleged offence at that stage was barred under Section 468(1) Cr.P.C. as it wasbeyond the period of limitation prescribed under Section 468(2) Cr.P.C. Apart from the subsequent two contentions, it was urged that the allegations under the FIR do not make out any offence of which cognizance could be taken.
17. Their Lordships of the Supreme Court in this matter had been pleased to hold that the bald allegations made against the sister in law by the complainant appeared to suggest the anxiety of the informant to rope in as many of the husband’s relatives as possible. It was held that neither the FIR nor the charge sheet furnished the legal basis for the magistrate to take cognizance of the offences alleged against the appellants. The learned Judges were pleased to hold that looking to the allegations in the FIR and the contents of the charge sheet, none of the alleged offences under Section 498 A, 406 and Section 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act were made against the married sister of the complainant’s husband who was undisputedly not living with the family of the complainant’s husband. Their Lordships of theSupreme Court were pleased to hold that the High Court ought not to have relegated the sister in law to the ordeal of trial. Accordingly, the proceedings against the appellants were quashed and the appeal was allowed.
18. In so far as the plea of territorial jurisdiction is concerned, it is no doubt true that the High Court was correct to the extent that the question of territorial jurisdiction could be decided by the trial court itself. But this ground was just one of the grounds to quash the proceedings initiated against the appellants under Section 482 Cr.P.C. wherein it was also alleged that no prima facie case was made out against the appellants for initiating the proceedings under the Dowry Prohibition Act and other provisions of the IPC. The High Court has failed to exercise its jurisdiction in so far as the consideration of the case of the appellants are concerned, who are only brother and sister of the complainant’s husband and are not alleged even by the complainant to have demanded dowry from her. The High Court, therefore, ought to have considered thateven if the trial court at Allahabad had the jurisdiction to hold the trial, the question still remained as to whether the trial against the brother and sister of the husband was fit to be continued and whether that would amount to abuse of the process of the court.
19. Coming to the facts of this case, when the contents of the FIR is perused, it is apparent that there are no allegations against Kumari Geeta Mehrotra and Ramji Mehrotra except casual reference of their names who have been included in the FIR but mere casual reference of the names of the family members in a matrimonial dispute without allegation of active involvement in the matter would not justify taking cognizance against them overlooking the fact borne out of experience that there is a tendency to involve the entire family members of the household in the domestic quarrel taking place in a matrimonial dispute specially if it happens soon after the wedding.
20. It would be relevant at this stage to take note of an apt observation of this Court recorded in the matter of G.V. Rao vs. L.H.V. Prasad & Ors. reportedin (2000) 3 SCC 693 wherein also in a matrimonial dispute, this Court had held that the High Court should have quashed the complaint arising out of a matrimonial dispute wherein all family members had been roped into the matrimonial litigation which was quashed and set aside. Their Lordships observed therein with which we entirely agree that:
“there has been an outburst of matrimonial dispute in recent times. Marriage is a sacred ceremony, main purpose of which is to enable the young couple to settle down in life and live peacefully. But little matrimonial skirmishes suddenly erupt which often assume serious proportions resulting in heinous crimes in which elders of the family are also involved with the result that those who could have counselled and brought about rapprochement are rendered helpless on their being arrayed as accused in the criminal case. There are many reasons which need not be mentioned here for not encouraging matrimonial litigation so that the parties may ponder over their defaults and terminate the disputes amicably by mutual agreement instead of fighting it outin a court of law where it takes years and years to conclude and in that process the parties lose their “young” days in chasing their cases in different courts.”
The view taken by the judges in this matter was that the courts would not encourage such disputes.
21. In yet another case reported in AIR 2003 SC 1386 in the matter of B.S. Joshi & Ors. vs. State of Haryana & Anr. it was observed that there is no doubt that the object of introducing Chapter XXA containing Section 498A in the Indian Penal Code was to prevent the torture to a woman by her husband or by relatives of her husband. Section 498A was added with a view to punish the husband and his relatives who harass or torture the wife to coerce her relatives to satisfy unlawful demands of dowry. But if the proceedings are initiated by the wife under Section 498A against the husband and his relatives and subsequently she has settled her disputes with her husband and his relatives and the wife and husband agreed for mutual divorce, refusal to exercise inherent powers by the High Court would not be proper as it would prevent woman fromsettling earlier. Thus for the purpose of securing the ends of justice quashing of FIR becomes necessary, Section 320 Cr.P.C. would not be a bar to the exercise of power of quashing. It would however be a different matter depending upon the facts and circumstances of each case whether to exercise or not to exercise such a power.
22. In the instant matter, when the complainant and her husband are divorced as the complainant-wife secured an ex-parte decree of divorce, the same could have weighed with the High Court to consider whether proceeding initiated prior to the divorce decree was fit to be pursued in spite of absence of specific allegations at least against the brother and sister of the complainant’s husband and whether continuing with this proceeding could not have amounted to abuse of the process of the court. The High Court, however, seems not to have examined these aspects carefully and have thus side-tracked all these considerations merely on the ground that the territorial jurisdiction could be raised only before the magistrate conducting the trial.
23. In the instant case, the question of territorial jurisdiction was just one of the grounds for quashing the proceedings along with the other grounds and, therefore, the High Court should have examined whether the prosecution case was fit to be quashed on other grounds or not. At this stage, the question also crops up whether the matter is fit to be remanded to the High Court to consider all these aspects. But in matters arising out of a criminal case, fresh consideration by remanding the same would further result into a protracted and vexatious proceeding which is unwarranted as was held by this Court in the case of Ramesh vs. State of Tamil Nadu (supra) that such a course of remand would be unnecessary and inexpedient as there was no need to prolong the controversy. The facts in this matter on this aspect was although somewhat different since the complainant had lodged the complaint after seven years of delay, yet in the instant matter the factual position remainsthat the complaint as it stands lacks ingredients constituting the offence under Section 498A and Section 3/4 Dowry Prohibition Act against the appellants who are sister and brother of the complainant’s husband and their involvement in the whole incident appears only by way of a casual inclusion of their names. Hence, it cannot be overlooked that it would be total abuse of the process of law if we were to remand the matter to the High Court to consider whether there were still any material to hold that the trial should proceed against them in spite of absence of prima facie material constituting the offence alleged against them.
24. However, we deem it appropriate to add by way of caution that we may not be misunderstood so as to infer that even if there are allegation of overt act indicating the complicity of the members of the family named in the FIR in a given case, cognizance would be unjustified but what we wish to emphasize by highlighting is that, if the FIR as it stands does not disclose specific allegation against accused more so against the co-accused specially in a matter arising outof matrimonial bickering, it would be clear abuse of the legal and judicial process to mechanically send the named accused in the FIR to undergo the trial unless of course the FIR discloses specific allegations which would persuade the court to take cognisance of the offence alleged against the relatives of the main accused who are prima facie not found to have indulged in physical and mental torture of the complainant-wife. It is the well settled principle laid down in cases too numerous to mention, that if the FIR did not disclose the commission of an offence, the court would be justified in quashing the proceedings preventing the abuse of the process of law. Simultaneously, the courts are expected to adopt a cautious approach in matters of quashing specially in cases of matrimonial dispute whether the FIR in fact discloses commission of an offence by the relatives of the principal accused or the FIR prima facie discloses a case of over-implication by involving the entire family of the accused at the instance of the complainant, who is out to settle her scores arising out of the teething problem or skirmish ofdomestic bickering while settling down in her new matrimonial surrounding.
25. In the case at hand, when the brother and unmarried sister of the principal accused Shyamji Mehrotra approached the High Court for quashing the proceedings against them, inter-alia, on the ground of lack of territorial jurisdiction as also on the ground that no case was made out against them under Sections 498A,/323/504/506 including Sections 3/4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, it was the legal duty of the High Court to examine whether there were prima facie material against the appellants so that they could be directed to undergo the trial, besides the question of territorial jurisdiction. The High Court seems to have overlooked all the pleas that were raised and rejected the petition on the solitary ground of territorial jurisdiction giving liberty to the appellants to approach the trial court.
26. The High Court in our considered opinion appear to have missed that assuming the trial court had territorial jurisdiction, it was still left to be decided whether it was a fit case to send the appellants for trial when the FIR failed to make out a prima facie case against them regarding the allegation of inflicting physical and mental torture to the complainant demanding dowry from the complainant. Since the High Court has failed to consider all these aspects, this Court as already stated hereinbefore, could have remitted the matter to the High Court to consider whether a case was made out against the appellants to proceed against them. But as the contents of the FIR does not disclose specific allegation against the brother and sister of the complainant’s husband except casual reference of their names, it would not be just to direct them to go through protracted procedure by remanding for consideration of the matter all over again by the High Court and make the unmarried sister of the main accused and his elder brother to suffer the ordeal of a criminal case pending against them specially when the FIR does not disclose ingredients of offence under Sections 498A/323/504/506, IPC and Sections 3/4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act.
27. We, therefore, deem it just and legally appropriate to quash the proceedings initiated against the appellants Geeta Mehrotra and Ramji Mehrotra as the FIR does not disclose any material which could be held to be constituting any offence against these two appellants. Merely by making a general allegation that they were also involved in physical and mental torture of the complainant-respondent No.2 without mentioning even a single incident against them as also the fact as to how they could be motivated to demand dowry when they are only related as brother and sister of the complainant’s husband, we are pleased to quash and set aside the criminal proceedings in so far as these appellants are concerned and consequently the order passed by the High Court shall stand overruled. The appeal accordingly is allowed.

……………………………J(T.S. Thakur)
……………………………J(Gyan Sudha Misra)
New Delhi,October 17, 2012


Sunday, March 17, 2013

SC -Money demand unrelated to marriage won’t attract dowry offence. Abusers of 498a,304B go scot free while the falsely implicated Husband struggle for 14 years.

Money demand unrelated to marriage won’t attract dowry offence: Supreme Court

Abusers of 498a,304B go scot free while the falsely implicated Husband struggle for 14 years.


No punishment for Inlaws who had harassed their daughter to death.


This is called gender sensitisation of Indian judiciary.


Please be always reminded that Wife and Wife's parents are never perpetrators of any matrimonial crimes !!!






VIPIN JAISWAL(A-I)                      Appellant (s)





This is an appeal against the judgment dated 11th December, 2006 of the Andhra Pradesh High Court in Criminal Appeal No. 544 of 2003.

2. The facts briefly are that an FIR was lodged by Gynaneshwar Jaiswal on 4.4.1999 at 2.15 p.m. in Mangalhat Police Station, Hyderabad. In the FIR it was stated by the informant that his daughter Meenakshi Jaiswal was married to the appellant on 22.2.1996 and at the time of marriage he gave sufficient gold jewellery, silver items, furniture, electrophinic gadgets etc., worth above Rs.2,50,000/- but ever since her marriage, she was subjected to physical and mental torture by her husband Vipin Jaiswal, her husband's parents Prem Kumar Jaiswal and Yashoda Bai and her husband's sister Supriya and her husband  and they all brutally assaulted her on innumerable occasions for not getting sufficient dowry. It was further stated in the FIR that on 2.4.1999 the informant received a call from the appellant and he went to the house of the appellant along with his relatives to find out what had happened as well as to give invitation for a function at his place but they all abused him and the appellant physically assaulted and pushed him out from the house but fearing the safety of his daughter and her welfare, he did not report the matter to the police. It is further stated in the FIR that on 4.4.1999 at about 1.00 p.m. when he came back home, he was informed on telephone by his son that Meenakshi had received severe burn injuries and as a result died in the house of the appellant. The police registered a Criminal Case under Section 304B, IPC and took up investigation and submitted a charge-sheet against the appellant and his other relatives under Sections 304B and 498A, IPC.

3. At the trial, besides other witnesses, the prosecution examined the father of the deceased (informant) as PW 1, the cousin of PW 1 as PW 2 and the mother of the deceased as PW 4. The appellant volunteered to be a witness and got examined himself as DW 1 and took the defence that the deceased had left behind a suicide note written by her one day before her death in which she has stated that she had committed suicide not on account of any harassment by the appellant and her family members but due to the harassment by her own parents. The Trial Court, however, disbelieved the defence and convicted the appellant and his other relatives under Sections 304B and 498A, IPC. The Trial Court in particular held that there was material that two days prior to the death of  the deceased, her father (PW1) and his relative (PW2) were called by her and told that she has been harassed by the appellant and her in laws for not being paid the amount demanded by the appellant and when PWs 1 and 2 went to the house of the appellant, they were abused by the appellant and on 4.4.1999, PW 1 and others were informed by one Suresh Kumar, a neighbour of the appellant, about the incident. From the aforesaid and other evidence, the Trial Court came to the conclusion that the deceased was subjected to torture and harassment by the accused, mainly for the reason that an amount of Rs.50,000/- was not given to the appellant by PW 1. The appellant and other relatives of the appellant carried Criminal Appeal No. 544 of 2003 before the High Court and by the impugned judgment, the High Court acquitted the two other relatives of the appellant (A2 and A3) but maintained the conviction of the appellant under Sections 304B and 498A, IPC.

4. At the hearing before us, learned senior counsel for the appellant submitted that the findings of the Trial Court and of the High Court with regard to the demand of dowry are in relation to the demand of Rs.50,000/-. He submitted that this demand of Rs.50,000/- is not mentioned in the FIR (Ext. P1). He further submitted that in any case, the evidence of PW1 and PW4 is clear that this demand of Rs.50,000/- by the appellant was not a dowry demand but an amount which the appellant wanted from the family of the deceased to purchase a computer and set up his own business. He further submitted that the Trial Court and the High Court ought not to have disbelieved the suicide note (Ext. D19) which was in the handwriting of the deceased as proved by DW1. In this context, he explained that the signature on the suicide note (Ext. D19) purporting to be that of the deceased, tallied with the signature of the deceased in Ext. D1 which was a hall ticket issued by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Open University for an examination which the deceased took  in March, 1998.

5. Learned counsel for the State, on the other hand, submitted that both the Trial Court and the High Court have discussed the evidence of the prosecution witnesses, and in particular, the evidence of PWs 1, 2 and 4 to establish that there was demand of dowry of not only Rs.50,000/- but other items as well. He further submitted that Section 2 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 defines 'dowry' as any property or valuable security given or agreed to be given either directly or indirectly at or before or any time after the marriage in connection with the marriage of the parties to the marriage. He submitted that the expression “in connection with the marriage of the parties to the marriage” is wide enough to cover the demand of Rs.50,000/- made by the appellant for purchase of a computer. He further submitted that so far as the suicide note (Ext. D19) is concerned, the same cannot be believed to have been written by the deceased who was only a matriculate and the High Court has given good reasons in the impugned judgment why the suicide note cannot be believed to have been written by the deceased. He argued that in any case only on the basis of the evidence given by DW1, the Court cannot hold that the suicide note had been written by the deceased and not by someone else. He submitted that since the prosecution has been able to prove that the deceased had been subjected to not only a demand of dowry but also cruelty soon before her death, the Trial Court and the High Court have rightly held the appellant guilty both under Sections 304B and 498A, IPC.

6. We have perused the evidence of PW 1 and PW 4, the father and mother of the deceased respectively.  We find that PW 1 has stated that at the time of marriage, gold, silver articles, ornaments, T.V., fridge and several other household articles worth more than Rs.2,50,000/- were given to the appellant and after the marriage, the deceased joined the appellant in his house at Kagaziguda. He has, thereafter, stated that the appellant used to work in a xerox cum type institute in Nampally and in the sixth month after marriage, the deceased came to their house and told them that the appellant asked her to bring Rs.50,000/- from them as he was intending to purchase a computer and set up his own business. Similarly, PW4 has stated in her evidence that five months after the marriage, the appellant sent her away to their house and when she questioned her, she told that the appellant was demanding Rs.50,000/- and that the demand for money is to purchase a computer to start his own business. Thus, the evidence of PW1 and PW4 is that the demand of Rs.50,000/- by the appellant was made six months after the marriage and that too for purchasing a computer to start his own business. It is only with regard to this demand of Rs.50,000/- that the Trial Court has recorded a finding of guilt against the appellant for the offence under Section 304B, IPC and it is only in relation to this demand of Rs.50,000/- for purchase of a computer to start a business made by the appellant six months after the marriage that the High Court has also confirmed the findings of the Trial Court with regard to guilt of the appellant under Section 304B, IPC. In our view, both the Trial Court and the High Court failed to appreciate that the demand, if at all made by the appellant on the deceased for purchasing a computer to start a business six months after the marriage, was not in connection with the marriage and was not really a 'dowry demand' within the meaning of Section 2 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961. This Court has held in Appasaheb & Anr. Vs. State of  Maharashtra (2007) 9 SCC 721: 
“In view of the aforesaid definition of the word "dowry" any property or valuable security should be given or agreed to be given either directly or indirectly at or before or any time after the marriage and in connection with the marriage of the said parties. Therefore, the giving or taking of property or valuable security must have some connection with the marriage of the parties and a correlation between the giving or taking of property or valuable security with the marriage of the parties is essential. Being a penal provision it has to be strictly construed. Dowry is a fairly well known social custom or practice in India. It is well settled principle of interpretation of Statute that if the Act is passed with reference to a particular trade, business or transaction and words are used which everybody conversant with that trade, business or transaction knows or understands to have a particular meaning in it, then the words are to be construed as having that particular meaning. (See Union of India v. Garware Nylons Ltd., AIR (1996) SC 3509 and Chemicals and Fibres of India v. Union of India, AIR (1997) SC 558).” 

7. In any case, to hold an accused guilty of both the offences under Sections 304B and 498A, IPC, the prosecution is required to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the deceased was subjected to cruelty or harassment by the accused. From the evidence of the prosecution witnesses, and in particular PW1 and PW4, we find that they have made general allegations of harassment by the appellant towards the deceased and have not brought in evidence any specific acts of cruelty or harassment by the appellant on the deceased. On the other hand, DW1 in his evidence has stated that on 4.4.1999, the day when the incident occurred, he went to the nearby temple along with his mother (A2) and his father (A3) went to the bazar to bring ration and his wife (deceased) alone was present at the house and at about 1.00 p.m., they were informed by somebody that some smoke was coming out from their house and their house was burning. Immediately he and his mother rushed to their house and by that time there was a huge gathering at the house and the police was also present. He and his family members were arrested by the police and after one month they were released on bail. What DW1 has further stated is relevant for the purpose of his defence and is quoted hereinbelow: “While cleaning our house we found a chit on our dressing table. The said chit was written by my wife and it is in her handwriting and it also contains her signature. Ex. D 19 is the said chit. I identified the handwriting of my wife in Ex. D19 because my wife used to write chits for purchasing of monthly provisions as such on tallying the said chit and Ex. D19 I came to know that it was written by my wife only. Immediately I took the Ex. D19 to the P.S. Mangalhat and asked them to receive but they refused to take the same.” From the aforesaid evidence, it is clear that while cleaning the house the appellant came across a chit written in the handwriting of his wife and containing her signature. This chit has been marked as Ext. D19 and the appellant has identified the handwriting and signature of the deceased in Ext. D19 which is written in Hindi. The English translation of Ext.D19 reproduced in the impugned judgment of the High Court is extracted herein below:

“I, Meenakshi W/o Vipin Kumar, do hereby execute and commit to writing this in my sound mind, consciousness and senses and with my free will and violation to the effect that nobody is responsible for my death. My parents family members have harassed much to my husband. I am taking this step as I have fed up with his life. Due to me the quarrels are taking place here, as such I want to end my life and I beg to pardon by all.”
It appears from Ext. D19 that the deceased has written the chit according to her free will saying that nobody was responsible for her death and that her parents and family members have harassed her husband and she was taking the step as she was fed up with her life and because of her quarrels were taking place.

8. When the appellant, who is the husband of the deceased, has said in his evidence as DW1 that the aforesaid chit (Ext. D19) has been written by the deceased herself and has been signed by her and it also appears from his evidence quoted above that he was acquainted with her handwriting and signature, the Trial Court and the High Court could have recorded a finding one way or the other by comparing her handwriting and signature with some of her other handwritings and signatures under Section 73 of the Evidence Act. In the alternative, the Trial Court and the High Court could have sought for an expert's opinion under Section 45 of the Evidence Act on whether the handwriting and signature were that of the deceased. But unfortunately, neither the Trial Court nor the High Court have resorted to these provisions of the Evidence Act and instead by their own imaginary reasoning disbelieved the defence of the appellant that Ext.D19 could not have been written by the deceased.

9. In our considered opinion, the evidence of DW1 (the appellant) and Ext.D19 cast a reasonable doubt on the prosecution story that the deceased was subjected to harassment or cruelty in connection with demand of dowry. In our view, onus was on the prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt the ingredient of Section 498A, IPC and the essential ingredient of offence under Section 498A is that the accused, as the husband of the deceased, has subjected her to cruelty as defined in the Explanation to Section 498A, IPC. Similarly, for the Court to draw the presumption under Section 113B of the Evidence Act that the appellant had caused dowry death as defined in Section 304B, IPC, the prosecution has to prove besides the demand of dowry, harassment or cruelty caused by the accused to the deceased soon before her death. Since the prosecution has not been able to prove beyond reasonable doubt this ingredient of harassment or cruelty, neither of the offences under Sections 498A and 304B, IPC has been made out by the prosecution.

10. We accordingly allow this appeal, set aside the impugned judgment of the High Court and that of the Trial Court and direct that the bail bond furnished by the appellant shall stand discharged.
(A.K. PATNAIK)               
MARCH 13, 2013


Saturday, February 23, 2013

SC allows couple to settle marital cruelty cases - admits 498a misuse and false cases filed by wife, but still orders husband to pay 15 Lac alimony ! A reward to unscrupulous judicial abuser wife ?


                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
                        CIVIL APPEAL NO. 1794 OF 2013
      (Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 4782 of 2007)

K. SRINIVAS RAO                   …          APPELLANT


D.A. DEEPA                        …          RESPONDENT



1.    Leave granted.

2.     This appeal, by special leave,  has  been  filed  by  the  appellant-
husband, being aggrieved by the judgment and order  dated  8/11/2006  passed
by the Andhra Pradesh High Court in Civil  Miscellaneous  Appeal  No.797/03,
setting aside the decree of divorce granted in his favour.
3.    The appellant-husband is working as Assistant Registrar in the  Andhra
Pradesh High Court. The  marriage  between  the  appellant-husband  and  the
respondent-wife was solemnized on 25/4/1999 as per Hindu rites and  customs.
Unfortunately, on the very next day disputes arose  between  the  elders  on
both sides which resulted in their abusing each other and  hurling  chappals
at each other. As a consequence, on 27/4/1999, the newly married couple  got
separated  without  consummation  of  the  marriage   and   started   living
separately.  On 4/10/1999, the respondent-wife lodged a  criminal  complaint
against the appellant-husband before  the  Women  Protection  Cell  alleging
inter alia that the appellant-husband is harassing her for more dowry.  This
complaint is very crucial to this case.  We  shall  advert  to  it  more  in
detail a little later.  Escalated acrimony led  to  complaints  and  counter
complaints. The respondent-wife filed a petition  under  Section  9  of  the
Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 for  restitution  of  conjugal  rights  before  the
Family Court, Secunderabad.  The  appellant-husband  filed  a  counter-claim
seeking dissolution of marriage on  the  ground  of  cruelty  and  desertion
under Section 13(1)(i-a) and (b) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.

4.    The Family Court while dismissing  the  petition  for  restitution  of
conjugal rights and granting decree of divorce  inter  alia  held  that  the
respondent-wife stayed in the appellant-husband’s house only for a day,  she
admitted that she did not have any conversation with anyone  and  hence  any
amount of oral evidence adduced by her will not support her  plea  that  she
was harassed and driven out of the house; that the story that the appellant-
husband made a demand of dowry of Rs.10,00,000/- is false;  that  by  filing
false complaint against  the  appellant-husband  and  his  family,  alleging
offence under Section 498-A  of  the  IPC  in  the  Metropolitan  Magistrate
Court, Hyderabad and by filing complaints against the  appellant-husband  in
the High Court where  he  is  working,  the  respondent-wife  caused  mental
cruelty to the appellant-husband and that reunion  was  not  possible.   The
Family Court directed the appellant-husband to repay  Rs.80,000/-  given  by
the respondent-wife’s father to him with interest at 8% per annum  from  the
date of the marriage till payment.

5.    By the impugned judgment the High Court allowed the appeal carried  by
the respondent-wife against the said judgment and set aside  the  decree  of
divorce granted in favour of the appellant-husband.  The  High  Court  inter
alia observed that the finding of the Family Court that lodging a  complaint
with  the  police  against  the  appellant-husband  amounts  to  cruelty  is
perverse because it is not a ground for divorce  under  the  Hindu  Marriage
Act, 1955.  The High Court further held that the appellant-husband  and  the
respondent-wife did not live together for a long time  and,  therefore,  the
question  of  their  treating  each  other  with  cruelty  does  not  arise.
According to the High Court, the conclusion that the respondent-wife  caused
mental cruelty  to  the  appellant-husband  is  based  on  presumptions  and

6.    Mr. Jayanth  Muth  Raj,  learned  counsel  for  the  appellant-husband
assailed  the  conduct  of  the  respondent-wife  and  submitted   that   it
disentitles her from getting any relief from this Court.   Counsel  took  us
through the complaint lodged by the respondent-wife with the  Superintendent
of Police, Women Protection Cell, Hyderabad, making  defamatory  allegations
against the mother of the appellant-husband and drew our  attention  to  the
various legal proceedings initiated by  her  against  the  appellant-husband
and his family.  Counsel submitted that she also lodged complaints with  the
High Court asking for the removal of the  appellant-husband  from  his  job.
Counsel submitted that by lodging such false complaints the  respondent-wife
caused extreme mental cruelty to the appellant-husband.   Counsel  submitted
that the High Court fell into a grave error in observing  that  because  the
respondent-wife did not live with the appellant-husband for long  she  could
not have  caused  mental  cruelty  to  him.   Counsel  submitted  that  this
observation is erroneous and is contrary  to  the  law  laid  down  by  this
Court.  False and defamatory allegations made  in  the  pleadings  can  also
cause  mental  cruelty.    Counsel   submitted   that   the   marriage   has
irretrievably broken down and, therefore, it is necessary to dissolve it  by
a decree of divorce.  In support of his submissions counsel placed  reliance
on G.V.N. Kameswara Rao  vs.  G.  Jabilli[1],  Parveen  Mehta  vs.  Inderjit
Mehta[2],  Vijayakumar  R.  Bhate  vs.  Neela  Vijayakumar  Bhate[3],  Durga
Prasanna  Tripathy  vs.  Arundhati  Tripathy[4],  Naveen  Kohli  vs.   Neelu
Kohli[5] and Samar Ghosh vs. Jaya Ghosh[6].

7.    Mr. D. Rama Krishna Reddy, learned counsel  for  the  respondent-wife,
on the other hand, submitted that the  father  of  the  respondent-wife  had
given Rs.80,000/- and 15 tolas of gold as dowry to  the  appellant-husband’s
family.  However, they demanded additional cash of Rs.10,00,000/-.   Because
this demand could not  be  met,  the  respondent-wife  and  her  family  was
humiliated and ill-treated. Therefore, the parents  of  the  respondent-wife
had to return to their house along  with  her  immediately  after  marriage.
The father of the respondent-wife made efforts to  talk  to  the  appellant-
husband’s family, but, they did not respond to his efforts.  They  persisted
with their demands and, therefore, the respondent-wife  had  no  alternative
but to lodge complaint against them under Section 498-A of  the  IPC  before
the Metropolitan Magistrate, Hyderabad.   The  appellant-husband  thereafter
gave a false assurance that he will  not  harass  her  and,  therefore,  she
withdrew the complaint and went to  the  matrimonial  house.   However,  the
approach of the appellant-husband and his family did not change. She had  to
therefore renew her complaint.  Counsel submitted that only because  of  the
obstinate and uncompromising  attitude  of  the  appellant-husband  and  his
family that the respondent-wife had to take recourse to  court  proceedings.
Counsel submitted that the respondent-wife values the matrimonial tie.   She
wants to lead a happy married life with  the  appellant-husband.   She  had,
therefore, filed a petition for restitution of conjugal rights which  should
have been allowed  by  the  Family  Court.   Counsel  submitted  that  after
properly evaluating all the circumstances the High  Court  has  rightly  set
aside the decree of divorce and granted a decree of restitution of  conjugal
rights.  The High Court’s judgment, therefore, merits no interference.

8.    The matrimonial dispute started with a quarrel between the  elders  of
both sides in which initially the appellant-husband and the  respondent-wife
were not involved.  The  ego  battle  of  the  elders  took  an  ugly  turn.
Parties  were  dragged  to  the  court  and  the  inevitable  happened.  The
relations between the two families got strained. With a fond  hope  that  we
could bring about a settlement we requested  the  counsel  to  talk  to  the
parties and convey our wishes that they should bury the  hatchet  and  start
living  together.  We  also  tried  to  counsel  them  in  the  court.   The
respondent-wife appears to be very keen to go back to the  matrimonial  home
and start life afresh, but the appellant-husband is  adamant.   He  conveyed
to us through his counsel that by filing repeated false  complaints  against
him and his family the respondent-wife has caused extreme  cruelty  to  them
and therefore it will not be possible to take her back.  In view of this  we
have no option but to proceed with the case.

9.    The High Court has taken a view that since the  appellant-husband  and
the respondent-wife did not stay together, there is  no  question  of  their
causing  cruelty  to  each  other.   The  High  Court  concluded  that   the
conclusion drawn by the Family Court that the respondent-wife caused  mental
cruelty to the appellant-husband is erroneous.  We are unable to agree  with
the High Court.

10.   Under Section 13(1)(i-a) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955,  a  marriage
can be dissolved by a decree of divorce on a petition  presented  either  by
the husband or the wife on the  ground  that  the  other  party  has,  after
solemnization of the marriage, treated the petitioner with  cruelty.   In  a
series of judgments  this  Court  has  repeatedly  stated  the  meaning  and
outlined the scope of the term ‘cruelty’.   Cruelty  is  evident  where  one
spouse has so treated the other and manifested such feelings towards her  or
him as to cause in her or his mind reasonable apprehension that it  will  be
harmful or injurious  to  live  with  the  other  spouse.   Cruelty  may  be
physical or mental.

11.   In Samar Ghosh this Court set out illustrative cases  where  inference
of ‘mental cruelty’ can be drawn.  This list  is  obviously  not  exhaustive
because each case presents it’s own peculiar factual  matrix  and  existence
or otherwise of mental cruelty will have to be judged  after  applying  mind
to it.  We must quote the  relevant  paragraph  of  Samar  Ghosh.   We  have
reproduced only the instances which are relevant to the present case.

      “101. No uniform standard can ever be laid down for guidance,  yet  we
      deem it appropriate to enumerate some  instances  of  human  behaviour
      which may be relevant in dealing with the cases of  “mental  cruelty”.
      The  instances  indicated  in  the  succeeding  paragraphs  are   only
      illustrative and not exhaustive:

      (i) On consideration of complete  matrimonial  life  of  the  parties,
      acute mental pain, agony and suffering as would not make possible  for
      the parties to live with  each  other  could  come  within  the  broad
      parameters of mental cruelty.

      (ii) On comprehensive appraisal of the entire matrimonial life of  the
      parties, it becomes abundantly clear that situation is such  that  the
      wronged party cannot reasonably be asked to put up with  such  conduct
      and continue to live with other party.

      (iii)                  xxx   xxx  xxx

      (iv) Mental cruelty is a state of mind. The feeling of  deep  anguish,
      disappointment, frustration in one spouse caused  by  the  conduct  of
      other for a long time may lead to mental cruelty.

      (v) A sustained course of abusive and humiliating treatment calculated
      to torture, discommode or render miserable life of the spouse.

      (vi) Sustained unjustifiable  conduct  and  behaviour  of  one  spouse
      actually affecting physical and mental health of the other spouse. The
      treatment complained of and the resultant danger or apprehension  must
      be very grave, substantial and weighty.

      (vii)                  xxx   xxx  xxx

      (viii)                 xxx   xxx  xxx

      (ix)             xxx   xxx   xxx

      (x) The married life should be reviewed as a whole and a few  isolated
      instances over a period of years will not amount to cruelty.  The  ill
      conduct must be persistent for a  fairly  lengthy  period,  where  the
      relationship has deteriorated to an extent that because  of  the  acts
      and behaviour of a  spouse,  the  wronged  party  finds  it  extremely
      difficult to live with the other  party  any  longer,  may  amount  to
      mental cruelty.

      (xi)             xxx   xxx   xxx

      (xii)                  xxx   xxx  xxx

      (xiii)                 xxx   xxx  xxx

      (xiv) Where there has been a long period of continuous separation,  it
      may fairly be concluded that the matrimonial bond  is  beyond  repair.
      The marriage becomes a fiction though supported by  a  legal  tie.  By
      refusing to sever that tie, the law in such cases, does not serve  the
      sanctity of marriage; on the contrary, it shows scant regard  for  the
      feelings and emotions of the parties. In such like situations, it  may
      lead to mental cruelty.”

      It is pertinent to note that in this case the  husband  and  wife  had
lived separately for more than sixteen and a  half  years.   This  fact  was
taken  into  consideration  along  with  other  facts  as  leading  to   the
conclusion that matrimonial bond had been ruptured beyond repair because  of
the mental cruelty caused by the wife.  Similar view  was  taken  in  Naveen

12.   In V. Bhagat  v.  D. Bhagat[7]  in the divorce petition filed  by  the
husband the wife filed  written  statement  stating  that  the  husband  was
suffering from mental hallucination, that his was a morbid  mind  for  which
he needs expert  psychiatric  treatment  and  that  he  was  suffering  from
‘paranoid  disorder’.   In  cross-examination  her   counsel   put   several
questions to the husband suggesting  that  several  members  of  his  family
including his  grandfather  were  lunatics.   This  court  held  that  these
assertions cannot but constitute mental cruelty of such a  nature  that  the
husband cannot be asked to live with the wife  thereafter.   Such  pleadings
and questions it was held, are  bound  to  cause  immense  mental  pain  and
anguish to the husband.   In  Vijaykumar  Bhate  disgusting  accusations  of
unchastity and indecent familiarity  with  a  neighbour  were  made  in  the
written statement.  This  Court  held  that  the  allegations  are  of  such
quality, magnitude and consequence  as  to  cause  mental  pain,  agony  and
suffering amounting to the reformulated concept of  cruelty  in  matrimonial
law causing profound and lasting disruption and driving  the  wife  to  feel
deeply hurt and reasonably apprehend that it  would  be  dangerous  to  live
with her husband.  In Naveen Kohli the respondent-wife got an  advertisement
issued in a national newspaper that her husband was her employee.   She  got
another news  item  issued  cautioning  his  business  associates  to  avoid
dealing with him.  This  was  treated  as  causing  mental  cruelty  to  the

13.   In Naveen Kohli the  wife  had  filed  several  complaints  and  cases
against the husband.  This Court viewed her conduct  as  a  conduct  causing
mental cruelty and observed that the finding of the High  Court  that  these
proceedings could not be taken to be such which  may  warrant  annulment  of
marriage is wholly unsustainable.

14.   Thus, to the instances illustrative of mental cruelty noted  in  Samar
Ghosh, we could add  a  few  more.   Making  unfounded  indecent  defamatory
allegations against the spouse or his or her  relatives  in  the  pleadings,
filing of complaints or  issuing  notices  or  news  items  which  may  have
adverse impact on the business prospect or the job of the spouse and  filing
repeated false complaints and cases in the court against the  spouse  would,
in the facts of a case, amount  to  causing  mental  cruelty  to  the  other

15.   We shall apply the above principles to the present case.  Firstly,  it
is necessary to have a look at  the  legal  proceedings  initiated  by  both
sides against each other.  The facts  on  record  disclose  that  after  the
marriage, due to some dispute which arose between  the  elders,  both  sides
abused and virtually attacked each other.  The respondent-wife was taken  by
her parents to their house.  According to the  respondent-wife,  her  father
made efforts to bring about an amicable settlement but the  other  side  did
not respond favourably and, therefore, on 4/10/1999 she lodged  a  complaint
with the  Superintendent  of  Police,  Women  Protection  Cell  against  the
appellant-husband  and  members  of  his  family.    In  our  opinion,  this
complaint is, to a large extent, responsible for widening the  rift  between
the  parties.   In  this  complaint,  after   alleging   ill-treatment   and
harassment for dowry, it is alleged that  mother  of  the  appellant-husband
asked the respondent-wife  to  sleep  with  the  father  of  the  appellant-
husband. When she was cross-examined in the Family Court during the  hearing
of her petition for  restitution  of  conjugal  rights  the  respondent-wife
admitted that she had lodged the complaint. PW-2 her mother, in  her  cross-
examination stated  that  though  they  had  asked  her  not  to  lodge  the
complaint, the respondent-wife lodged  it.   She  told  them  that  she  had
lodged the complaint because the  appellant-husband  was  not  listening  to
her.  Thus, it appears that this complaint was  lodged  out  of  frustration
and anger and was a reaction to  the  appellant-husband’s  refusal  to  live
with her.  It was, perhaps, felt by her that  because  of  the  pressure  of
such a complaint the appellant-husband would take her  back  to  his  house.
Far from helping the respondent-wife, the complaint appears to  have  caused
irreparable harm  to  her.   It  increased  the  bitterness.   Perhaps,  the
respondent-wife was misguided by someone.  But,  such  evidence  is  not  on
record.  Even in this court, this complaint appears to  us  to  be  a  major
factor amongst others impeding settlement.  Pursuant to the said  complaint,
Crime No.8/2000 was registered by C.I.D.,  Hyderabad,  in  the  Metropolitan
Magistrate (Mahila Court), Hyderabad against the appellant-husband  and  his
family under Section 498-A of the IPC.  It  is  the  respondent-wife’s  case
that the appellant-husband gave an assurance before the police that he  will
not harass her.  She, therefore, withdrew the complaint.   The  police  then
filed a closure report.  According to the  respondent-wife,  the  appellant-
husband did not abide by the promise made by him and, therefore,  she  filed
a protest petition.  The Magistrate Court, Hyderabad, then, took  cognizance
of the case and renumbered the case as C.C.No.62/2002.

16.   In the meantime,  the  respondent-wife  filed  O.P.No.88/2001  in  the
Family  Court,  Secunderabad,  for  restitution  of  conjugal  rights.   The
appellant-husband filed a counter claim  for  divorce  on  27/12/2002.   The
Family Court dismissed the petition for restitution of conjugal  rights  and
allowed the counter claim for divorce filed by the  appellant-husband.   The
respondent-wife challenged the Family Court judgment in the High Court.   On
8/12/2006 the High Court reversed the Family Court’s order and  allowed  the
petition for restitution of conjugal rights.  The present  appeal  is  filed
by the appellant-husband against the said judgment.

17.   According to the respondent-wife, on 17/9/2007 when  she,  along  with
her mother, came out of the court after a case  filed  by  her  against  the
appellant-husband was adjourned, the appellant-husband beat her  mother  and
kicked  her  on  her  stomach.   Both  of  them  received  injuries.    She,
therefore, filed complaint for the offence punishable under Section  324  of
the IPC against the appellant-husband (C.C.No. 79/2009).  It may  be  stated
here that on 19/10/2009 the appellant-husband was acquitted in this case.

18.    On  24/6/2008  the  judgment  was  delivered  by   Additional   Chief
Metropolitan Magistrate,  Hyderabad  in  C.C.No.  62/2002.   The  appellant-
husband was convicted under Section 498-A of the IPC and  was  sentenced  to
undergo six months simple imprisonment.  He and his parents  were  acquitted
of  the  offences  under  the  Dowry  Prohibition  Act.   His  parents  were
acquitted of the offence  under  Section  498-A  of  the  IPC.   After  this
judgment the respondent-wife and her parents filed a complaint in  the  High
Court saying that since the appellant-husband was  convicted  he  should  be
dismissed from service.  Similar letters were sent to the High Court by  the
maternal uncle of the respondent-wife.

19.   On 14/7/2008 the appellant-husband filed Criminal  Appeal  No.186/2008
challenging his conviction  under  Section  498-A  of  the  IPC  before  the
Metropolitan Sessions Judge.  It is pertinent to note that  the  respondent-
wife filed Criminal Appeal No.1219/2008 in the High  Court  questioning  the
acquittal of the appellant-husband and his parents  of  the  offences  under
the Dowry Prohibition Act and also the  acquittal  of  his  parents  of  the
offence punishable under Section 498-A of the IPC.  This appeal  is  pending
in the High Court.  Not being content with this, the  respondent-wife  filed
Criminal Revision Case No.1560/2008 in the High  Court  seeking  enhancement
of punishment awarded to the appellant-husband  for  offence  under  Section
498-A of the IPC.

20.   According to the appellant-husband on 6/12/2009  the  brother  of  the
respondent-wife came to their house and attacked  his  mother.   His  mother
filed a complaint and the police registered a complaint  under  Section  354
of the IPC.  The brother of the respondent-wife also lodged a complaint  and
an offence came to be registered.  Both the cases are pending.

21.   On 29/6/2010 Criminal Appeal No.  186/2010  filed  by  the  appellant-
husband challenging his conviction for the offence under  Section  498-A  of
the  IPC  was  allowed  by  the  Metropolitan  Sessions  Judge  and  he  was
acquitted.  The respondent-wife has filed criminal appeal in the High  Court
challenging the said acquittal which is pending.

22.   We need to now see the effect of the above events.   In  our  opinion,
the first instance of mental cruelty is seen in the scurrilous,  vulgar  and
defamatory statement made by the  respondent-wife  in  her  complaint  dated
4/10/1999 addressed to the Superintendent of Police, Women Protection  Cell.
 The statement that the mother of the appellant-husband asked her  to  sleep
with his  father  is  bound  to  anger  him.   It  is  his  case  that  this
humiliation of his parents caused great anguish to him.  He and  his  family
were traumatized by the false and indecent statement made in the  complaint.
 His grievance appears to us to be justified. This complaint is  a  part  of
the record.  It is a part of the pleadings.  That this  statement  is  false
is evident from the evidence of the mother of the respondent-wife, which  we
have already quoted.  This statement cannot be  explained  away  by  stating
that it was made because the respondent-wife was anxious to go back  to  the
appellant-husband.  This is not the way to win  the  husband  back.   It  is
well settled that such statements cause mental  cruelty.   By  sending  this
complaint the respondent-wife has caused mental cruelty  to  the  appellant-

23.     Pursuant to this complaint,  the  police  registered  a  case  under
Section 498-A of the IPC.  The appellant-husband  and  his  parents  had  to
apply for  anticipatory  bail,  which  was  granted  to  them.   Later,  the
respondent-wife withdrew the complaint.  Pursuant  to  the  withdrawal,  the
police filed a closure report.   Thereafter,  the  respondent-wife  filed  a
protest petition.  The trial court took cognizance of the case  against  the
appellant-husband and his parents (CC No. 62/2002).  What  is  pertinent  to
note is that the respondent-wife filed criminal appeal  in  the  High  Court
challenging the acquittal of the appellant-husband and his  parents  of  the
offences under the Dowry Prohibition Act  and  also  the  acquittal  of  his
parents of the offence punishable under Section  498-A  of  the  IPC.    She
filed criminal revision seeking enhancement of  the  punishment  awarded  to
the appellant-husband for the offence under Section 498-A of the IPC in  the
High Court which is still pending.  When the criminal appeal  filed  by  the
appellant-husband challenging his conviction for the offence  under  Section
498-A of the IPC was allowed  and  he  was  acquitted,  the  respondent-wife
filed criminal appeal in the High  Court  challenging  the  said  acquittal.
During this period respondent-wife and  members  of  her  family  have  also
filed complaints in the High Court complaining about  the  appellant-husband
so that he would be removed from the job.  The conduct  of  the  respondent-
wife in  filing  a  complaint  making  unfounded,  indecent  and  defamatory
allegation  against  her   mother-in-law,   in   filing   revision   seeking
enhancement of the sentence awarded  to  the  appellant-husband,  in  filing
appeal questioning the acquittal of the appellant-husband and  acquittal  of
his parents indicates that she made all attempts to ensure that he  and  his
parents are put in jail and he is removed from his job.  We have  no  manner
of doubt that this conduct has  caused  mental  cruelty  to  the  appellant-

24.   In  our  opinion,  the  High  Court  wrongly  held  that  because  the
appellant-husband and the respondent-wife did not stay together there is  no
question of the parties causing cruelty to  each  other.   Staying  together
under the same roof is not a pre-condition for mental cruelty.   Spouse  can
cause mental cruelty by his or her conduct even  while  he  or  she  is  not
staying under the same roof.  In a given case, while staying away, a  spouse
can cause  mental  cruelty  to  the  other  spouse  by  sending  vulgar  and
defamatory letters or  notices  or  filing  complaints  containing  indecent
allegations or by initiating  number  of  judicial  proceedings  making  the
other spouse’s life miserable.  This is what has happened in this case.

25.   It is also to be noted that the appellant-husband and the  respondent-
wife are staying apart from 27/4/1999.  Thus,  they  are  living  separately
for more than ten  years.   This  separation  has  created  an  unbridgeable
distance between the two.  As held in Samar Ghosh, if  we  refuse  to  sever
the tie, it may lead to mental cruelty.

26.   We are also satisfied that  this  marriage  has  irretrievably  broken
down.       Irretrievable breakdown of marriage is not a ground for  divorce
under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.  But, where marriage  is  beyond  repair
on account of bitterness created by the acts of the husband or the  wife  or
of both, the courts have always taken irretrievable  breakdown  of  marriage
as a very weighty circumstance amongst  others  necessitating  severance  of
marital tie.  A marriage which is dead for all purposes  cannot  be  revived
by the court’s verdict, if the parties are  not  willing.  This  is  because
marriage involves human sentiments and emotions and  if  they  are  dried-up
there is hardly any chance of their springing back to  life  on  account  of
artificial reunion created by the court’s decree.

27.   In V. Bhagat this Court noted that divorce petition  was  pending  for
eight years and a good part of the  lives  of  both  the  parties  had  been
consumed in litigation, yet the end was not in sight.  The facts  were  such
that there was no question of reunion,  the  marriage  having  irretrievably
broken down.  While dissolving the marriage on the ground of mental  cruelty
this Court observed that  irretrievable  breakdown  of  marriage  is  not  a
ground by  itself,  but,  while  scrutinizing  the  evidence  on  record  to
determine whether the grounds alleged are made out and  in  determining  the
relief to be granted the said circumstance can certainly be borne  in  mind.
In Naveen Kohli, where husband and wife had been living separately for  more
than 10 years and a large number of criminal proceedings had been  initiated
by the wife against the husband, this Court observed that the  marriage  had
been wrecked beyond the hope of salvage and public interest and interest  of
all concerned lies in the recognition of the fact and to declare defunct  de
jure what is already defunct de facto.  It is  important  to  note  that  in
this case this Court made a recommendation to the Union of  India  that  the
Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 be amended to incorporate  irretrievable  breakdown
of marriage as a ground for the grant of divorce.

28.   In the ultimate analysis, we hold that the respondent-wife has  caused
by her conduct mental cruelty to the appellant-husband and the marriage  has
irretrievably broken down.  Dissolution of marriage will relieve both  sides
of pain and anguish.  In this Court the respondent-wife expressed  that  she
wants to go back to the appellant-husband, but, that is  not  possible  now.
The appellant-husband is not willing to take her back.  Even  if  we  refuse
decree of divorce to the appellant-husband, there are hardly any chances  of
the respondent-wife leading a happy life with the appellant-husband  because
a lot of bitterness is created by the conduct of the respondent-wife.

29.   In Vijay Kumar, it was submitted that if the decree of divorce is  set
aside, there may be fresh  avenues  and  scope  for  reconciliation  between
parties.   This  court  observed  that  judged  in  the  background  of  all
surrounding circumstances, the claim appeared to  be  too  desolate,  merely
born out of despair rather than based upon any  real,  concrete  or  genuine
purpose or aim.  In the facts of this case we feel the same.

30.   While we are of the opinion that decree of divorce  must  be  granted,
we are alive to the plight of the  respondent-wife.   The  appellant-husband
is working as an Assistant Registrar in the Andhra Pradesh High  Court.   He
is getting a good salary.  The respondent-wife  fought  the  litigation  for
more than 10 years.  She appears to be entirely  dependent  on  her  parents
and on her brother, therefore, her future must be secured by  directing  the
appellant-husband  to  give  her  permanent  alimony.   In  the  facts   and
circumstance of this case, we are of the opinion that the  appellant-husband
should be directed to pay a sum  of  Rs.15,00,000/-  (Rupees  Fifteen  Lakhs
only) to the respondent-wife as and by way of  permanent  alimony.   In  the
result, the impugned judgment  is  quashed  and  set  aside.   The  marriage
between the appellant-husband - K. Srinivas Rao and  the  respondent-wife  -
D.A. Deepa is dissolved by  a  decree  of  divorce.   The  appellant-husband
shall  pay  to  the  respondent-wife  permanent  alimony  in  the   sum   of
Rs.15,00,000/-, in three instalments.  The first instalment of Rs.5,00,000/-
 (Rupees Five Lakhs only) should be paid on  15/03/2013  and  the  remaining
amount  of  Rs.10,00,000/-  (Rupees  Ten  Lakhs  only)  should  be  paid  in
instalments of Rs.5,00,000/-  each  after  a  gap  of  two  months  i.e.  on
15/05/2013 and 15/07/2013 respectively.  Each  instalment  of  Rs.5,00,000/-
be paid by a demand draft drawn  in  favour  of  the  respondent-wife  “D.A.

31.   Before parting, we wish to touch upon  an  issue  which  needs  to  be
discussed in the interest of victims of  matrimonial  disputes.   Though  in
this case, we have recorded a finding that by her conduct,  the  respondent-
wife has caused mental cruelty to  the  appellant-husband,  we  may  not  be
understood, however, to  have  said  that  the  fault  lies  only  with  the
respondent-wife.   In matrimonial disputes there is hardly  any  case  where
one spouse is entirely at fault.  But,  then,  before  the  dispute  assumes
alarming proportions, someone must make efforts to make parties see  reason.
 In this case, if at the earliest stage, before  the  respondent-wife  filed
the complaint making indecent  allegation  against  her  mother-in-law,  she
were to be counselled by  an  independent  and  sensible  elder  or  if  the
parties were sent to a mediation centre or if they  had  access  to  a  pre-
litigation clinic, perhaps the bitterness would not have escalated.   Things
would not have come to such  a  pass  if,  at  the  earliest,  somebody  had
mediated between the two.  It  is  possible  that  the  respondent-wife  was
desperate to save the marriage.  Perhaps, in desperation, she  lost  balance
and went on filing complaints.  It  is  possible  that  she  was  misguided.
Perhaps, the appellant-husband should  have  forgiven  her  indiscretion  in
filing complaints in the larger interest of matrimony.   But,  the  way  the
respondent-wife approached the problem was wrong.  It portrays a  vindictive
mind.  She caused extreme mental cruelty to the appellant-husband.  Now  the
marriage is beyond repair.

32.   Quite often, the  cause  of  the  misunderstanding  in  a  matrimonial
dispute is trivial and can be sorted. Mediation as a method  of  alternative
dispute resolution has got legal recognition now.  We have referred  several
matrimonial disputes to mediation centres.  Our experience shows that  about
10 to 15% of matrimonial disputes get settled in this Court through  various
mediation centres.  We, therefore, feel that  at  the  earliest  stage  i.e.
when the dispute is taken up by the Family Court or by the  court  of  first
instance  for  hearing,  it  must  be   referred   to   mediation   centres.
Matrimonial disputes  particularly  those  relating  to  custody  of  child,
maintenance, etc. are preeminently fit  for  mediation.  Section  9  of  the
Family Courts Act enjoins upon the Family Court to make  efforts  to  settle
the matrimonial disputes and in these efforts, Family  Courts  are  assisted
by Counsellors.  Even if the Counsellors fail in their efforts,  the  Family
Courts should  direct  the  parties  to  mediation  centres,  where  trained
mediators are appointed to mediate between the parties.   Being  trained  in
the skill of mediation, they produce good results.

33.   The idea of  pre-litigation  mediation  is  also  catching  up.   Some
mediation centres have, after giving wide publicity, set up “Help Desks”  at
prominent places  including  facilitation  centres  at  court  complexes  to
conduct pre-litigation mediation.  We are informed that in Delhi  Government
Mediation and Conciliation  Centres,  and  in  Delhi  High  Court  Mediation
Centre, several matrimonial disputes are  settled.   These  centres  have  a
good success rate in pre-litigation mediation.   If  all  mediation  centres
set up pre-litigation  desks/clinics  by  giving  sufficient  publicity  and
matrimonial disputes  are  taken  up  for  pre-litigation  settlement,  many
families will be saved of hardship if, at least, some of them  are  settled.

34.   While purely a civil matrimonial dispute can be amicably settled by  a
Family Court either by itself or by directing the  parties  to  explore  the
possibility of settlement through mediation, a complaint under Section  498-
A  of  the  IPC  presents  difficulty  because  the  said  offence  is   not
compoundable except in  the  State  of  Andhra  Pradesh  where  by  a  State
amendment, it has been made compoundable.  Though in  Ramgopal  &  Anr.   v.
State of Madhya Pradesh & Anr.[8], this Court requested the  Law  Commission
and the Government of India to  examine  whether  offence  punishable  under
Section 498-A of the IPC could be made compoundable, it has  not  been  made
compoundable as yet.   The  courts  direct  parties  to  approach  mediation
centres where offences are compoundable.  Offence punishable  under  Section
498-A being a non-compoundable offence, such a course  is  not  followed  in
respect thereof.  This Court has always  adopted  a  positive  approach  and
encouraged  settlement  of  matrimonial  disputes  and   discouraged   their
escalation.  In this connection, we must refer  to  the  relevant  paragraph
from G.V. Rao  v. L.H.V. Prasad & Ors.[9], where the complaint  appeared  to
be the result of matrimonial dispute, while refusing to interfere  with  the
High Court’s order quashing the complaint, this court  made  very  pertinent
observations, which read thus:

      “12. There has been an outburst  of  matrimonial  disputes  in  recent
      times. Marriage is a sacred ceremony, the main purpose of which is  to
      enable the young couple to settle down in life  and  live  peacefully.
      But little matrimonial skirmishes suddenly erupt  which  often  assume
      serious proportions resulting in commission of heinous crimes in which
      elders of the family are also involved with the result that those  who
      could have counselled and brought  about  rapprochement  are  rendered
      helpless on their being arrayed as accused in the criminal case. There
      are many other reasons which  need  not  be  mentioned  here  for  not
      encouraging matrimonial litigation so that the parties may ponder over
      their  defaults  and  terminate  their  disputes  amicably  by  mutual
      agreement instead of fighting it out in a court of law where it  takes
      years and years to conclude and in that process the parties lose their
      “young” days in chasing their “cases” in different courts.”

      In B.S. Joshi & Ors.  v.  State of Haryana & Anr.[10], after referring
to the above observations, this Court stated that the said observations  are
required to be kept  in  view  by  courts  while  dealing  with  matrimonial
disputes and held that complaint involving offence under  Section  498-A  of
the IPC can be quashed by the High Court in exercise  of  its  powers  under
Section 482 of the Code if the parties settle their dispute.   Even in  Gian
Singh  v.  State of Punjab & Anr.[11], this  Court  expressed  that  certain
offences which overwhelmingly and  predominantly  bear  civil  flavour  like
those arising out of matrimony, particularly relating to dowry, etc. or  the
family dispute and where  the  offender  and  the  victim  had  settled  all
disputes between them amicably, irrespective of the fact that such  offences
have not been made compoundable, the  High  Court  may  quash  the  criminal
proceedings if it feels that by not quashing the same, the ends  of  justice
shall be defeated.

35.   We, therefore, feel that though offence punishable under Section  498-
A of the IPC is not compoundable, in appropriate cases if  the  parties  are
willing and if it appears to the criminal court that  there  exist  elements
of settlement, it should direct the parties to explore  the  possibility  of
settlement through  mediation.   This  is,  obviously,  not  to  dilute  the
rigour, efficacy and purport of Section 498-A of  the  IPC,  but  to  locate
cases where the matrimonial dispute can be nipped in  bud  in  an  equitable
manner.  The judges, with their expertise, must ensure  that  this  exercise
does not lead to the erring spouse using mediation process  to  get  out  of
clutches of the law. During mediation, the  parties  can  either  decide  to
part company on mutually agreed terms or they may decide  to  patch  up  and
stay together.  In either case for  the  settlement  to  come  through,  the
complaint will have to be quashed.  In that event,  they  can  approach  the
High Court and get the complaint quashed.  If  however  they  chose  not  to
settle, they can proceed with the complaint.  In this exercise, there is  no
loss to anyone. If there is settlement, the parties will be saved  from  the
trials and tribulations of a criminal case and that will reduce  the  burden
on the courts which will be in the larger public interest.   Obviously,  the
High  Court  will  quash  the  complaint  only  if  after  considering   all
circumstances it finds the settlement to be equitable and genuine.   Such  a
course, in our opinion, will be beneficial to those who  genuinely  want  to
accord a quietus to their matrimonial disputes.  We would, however, like  to
clarify that reduction of burden of cases on the courts  will,  however,  be
merely an incidental benefit and not the reason for sending the parties  for
mediation.  We recognize ‘mediation’ as an effective method  of  alternative
dispute resolution in matrimonial matters and that  is  the  reason  why  we
want the parties to explore the possibility of settlement through  mediation
in matrimonial disputes.

36.   We, therefore, issue directions, which the  courts  dealing  with  the
matrimonial matters shall follow:

     a) In terms of Section 9 of the Family Courts Act, the  Family  Courts
        shall make all efforts to settle the matrimonial  disputes  through
        mediation.  Even if the Counsellors submit a  failure  report,  the
        Family Courts shall, with the consent of  the  parties,  refer  the
        matter to the mediation centre.   In  such  a  case,  however,  the
        Family Courts shall set  a  reasonable  time  limit  for  mediation
        centres to complete the process of mediation because otherwise  the
        resolution of the disputes by the Family Court may get delayed.  In
        a given case, if there is good chance  of  settlement,  the  Family
        Court in its discretion, can always extend the time limit.

     b) The criminal courts dealing with the complaint under Section  498-A
        of the IPC should, at any stage and particularly, before they  take
        up the complaint for hearing, refer the parties to mediation centre
        if they feel that there exist elements of settlement and  both  the
        parties are willing.  However, they should take care to see that in
        this exercise, rigour, purport and efficacy of Section 498-A of the
        IPC is not diluted.  Needless to say that the discretion  to  grant
        or not to grant bail is not in any way curtailed by this direction.
        It will be for the concerned  court  to  work  out  the  modalities
        taking into consideration the facts of each case.

     c) All mediation centres shall set  up  pre-litigation  desks/clinics;
        give them wide publicity and make  efforts  to  settle  matrimonial
        disputes at pre-litigation stage.

37.   The appeal is disposed of in the aforestated terms.

                                       (AFTAB ALAM)

                                              (RANJANA PRAKASH DESAI)
FEBRUARY 22, 2013.
[1]    (2002) 2 SCC 296
[2]    (2002) 5 SCC 706
[3]    (2003) 6 SCC 334
[4]    (2005) 7 SCC 353
[5]    (2006) 4 SCC 558
[6]    (2007) 4 SCC 511
[7]    (1994) 1 SCC 337
[8]    (2010) 13 SCC 540
[9]    (2000) 3 SCC 693
[10]   AIR 2003 SC 1386
[11]   (2012) 10 SCC 303