Court: MADHYA PRADESH HIGH COURT
Bench: JUSTICE S.S. Saraf
DEEPAK SHUKLA Vs. MAHENDRA CHANPURIYA Decided on 31 August 2001
Cruelty for Demand of Dowry Alleged to be made on 1.6.1993; Complaint Filed Beyond Three Years of Date 1.6.1993, Barred by Limitation : Allegations Regarding Demand of Dowry Figment of Imagination : Complaint Filed by Complainant More than Three Years After Filing of Divorce Petition by Petitioner against Respondent : Continuance of Criminal Proceedings against Petitioner, Abuse of Process of Court : Proceedings Quashed
1. This petition under Section 482 of .the Code of Criminal Procedure has been directed for quashing of criminal proceedings initiated against the petitioner for offence under Section 498-A, I.P.C.
2. The facts giving rise to this petition are these :
The petitioner Deepak Shukla was married to one Smt. Savita Shukla, the daughter of the respondent/complainant on 28.2.1993 at Katni. After the marriage Smt Savita Shukla came to the house of the petitioner at Bhopal and stayed with him from 28.2.1993 to 16.5.1993. She left the house of her husband, the petitioner, on 16.5.1993 and since then she is residing at Katni with her father, the respondent. The petitioner on 25.3.1994 served a legal’notice on his wife Smt. Savita Shukla requesting her to join the company of the petitioner. In reply thereto, Smt. Savita Shukla sent a letter alleging wild allegations of cruelty and demand of dowry by the petitioner. On 4.4.1994 the petitioner filed a divorce petition against his wife. On 30.3.1994 his wife Smt. Savita Shukla also filed a petition under Section 9 of the Hindu Marriage Act for restitution of conjugal rights. The respondent had also filed a criminal complaint against the petitioner for offence under Sections 120-B 419 420 467 469 and 406/34, I.P.C. which was dismissed. The respondent also filed a Civil Suit No. 303-A/1994 against the petitioner restraining him from marrying again during the life-time of the wife Smt. Savita Shukla which was also dismissed. It is alleged that while dismissing the said civil suit, the Court. observed that the suit was filed only with a view to harass the petitioner. Ultimately the respondent again filed the present complaint for offence under Sections 498-A, 120-B, 406, 419,420 and 506 Part-II, I.P.C. against the petitioner on behalf of his daughter Smt. Savita Shukla. The learned Chief Judicial Magistrate, Katni registered the case as No. 702/1999 (Original No. 1402/1998) only under Section 498-A, I.P.C. against the petitioner on 9.7.1998. Subsequently the case was transferred from Katni to Jabalpur.
3. The petitioner raised an objection that the present complaint (Original No, 1402/1998 and New No. 702/1999) is barred by limitation as the alleged offence was committed three years prior to the filing of the complaint. As per provisions of Section 468, Cr.P.C. the limitation prescribed is three years. The said objection raised by the petitioner was rejected by the learned Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, Jabalpur on two grounds, (i) that after registration of the complaint, the petitioner has not preferred any appeal and the order of registration of complaint is a preliminary order and, therefore, the objection is not maintainable; and (ii) that the offence under Section 498-A, I.P.C. is a continuous offence and, therefore, the complaint is not barred by limitation. Against the said order of the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, Jabalpur, the petitioner preferred a revision in the Court of Sessions, Jabalpur. The learned IIIrd Additional Sessions Judge, Jabalpur affirming the order passed by the learned Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, Jabalpur dismissed the revision. The learned IIIrd Additional Sessions Judge, Jabalpur observed that all the objections raised by the petitioner could be raised at the time of framing of charges. The petitioner thereafter filed a Writ Petition No. 3947/1999, Deepak Shukla v. Mahendra Chanpuriya. This Court while disposing of the petition observed that all the points raised in the petition should be first raised before the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, Jabalpur. In earlier petition M.Cr.C. No. 324/2000 filed under Section 482, Cr.P.C, this Court observed that as the order for raising objection has already been passed in W.P. No. 3947/ 2000, the petitioner should approach the Trial Court.
4. The learned Counsel for the petitioner in the present petition has challenged the order passed by the learned IIIrd Additional Sessions Judge, Jabalpur affirming the order passed by the learned Magistrate on the following grounds :
(i) that the complaint has not been filed by the wife Smt. Savita Shukla but by her father, the complainant, and therefore, the complaint is not maintainable;
(ii) that the offence alleged to have been committed by the petitioner relates to the period till 1.6.1993 and, therefore, the complaint filed after August, 1997 is barred by limitation as per provisions of Section 468, Cr.P.C; and
(iii) that the allegations made against the petitioner are baseless and false and have been made with a view to pressurise him.
5. The learned Counsel for the petitioner has, therefore, prayed that quashing the impugned order passed by the learned IIIrd Additional Sessions Judge, Jabalpur, the criminal proceedings in Criminal Case No. 702/1999 initiated against him by the respondent/complainant be quashed.
6. The respondent/complainant is himself a Counsel. Though he did not appear on the date when the case was listed for final hearing yet he filed written arguments wherein the contentions raised by the learned Counsel for the petitioner have been denied.
7. Having heard the learned Counsel for the petitioner and having, perused the written arguments submitted by the respondent, I am of the considered view that this petition deserves to be allowed.
8. So far as the first contention of the learned Counsel for the petitioner is concerned, it is manifest from the record that though the complaint has been filed by the father of Smt. Savita Shukla, the wife of the petitioner, yet the wife Smt. Savita Shukla has been examined in the Court under Section 202, Cr.P.C.-and therefore, there is no substance in the contention raised by the learned Counsel for the petitioner that the complaint is not maintainable.
9. I will now proceed to consider the other contentions raised by the learned Counsel for the petitioner pertaining to the limitation and the merits of the case. The learned Courts below have found that the offence alleged against the petitioner is a continuous offence and therefore, the complaint is not barred by limitation. A perusal of the complaint reveals that the complainant has averred in his complaint that the petitioner visited the house of complainant and demanded dowry and gave threatening to the complainant even in the year of 1997. The complainant by the above averment has tried to show that the petitioner’s demand for dowry is still in existence. The statement of the wife, Smt, Savita Shukla, recorded under Section 202, Cr.P.C., however, speaks a different story. In her statement, she has narrated the incident of 1.6.1993 and prior to that. She has not stated any act of demand of dowry or giving threats to her father by the petitioner after 1.6.1993.
10. To appreciate the contention raised by both the parties, it. would be convenient to consider the various factors. I will consider them one by one.
11. When on 25.3.1994 the petitioner sent a notice to his wife Smt. Savita Shukla to join his company, his wife Smt. Savita Shukla sent a reply on 28.3.1994 wherein she made wild allegations against the character of the petitioner and alleged that he had illicit relations with another woman. It has also been mentioned by her that her father and uncle are Advocates and brother is also Advocate as well as a leader of the Congress Party. In the proceedings before the Court of Xth Additional District Judge, Jabalpur, the complainant/respondent disturbed the proceedings of the Court. by loudly shouting against the petitioner and also used the word “foolish“ Thereafter without permission of the Presiding Judge, he left the Court loudly defclaring that he had to file an application under Order 7 Rule 11, CPC. It was at 12.40 p.m. When again the trial resumed at about’3.30 p.m. the respondent/complainant loudly shouted in the Court aiming the petitioner that ”xxx xxx xxxx” (one who intends to defend the case would not be able to appear again in the Court). The Presiding Judge again pacified the respondent/ complainant.
12. In Civil Revision No. 1723/1997, Deepak Shukla v. Smt. Savita Shukla, this Court while passing the order dated 28.7.1998 observed in para 8 of the order that “whatever the past conduct of the applicant (petitioner) before the quarrel arose between, the husband and wife, the conduct of the wife seems to be full of acrimony and anger”.
13. The divorce petition filed by the petitioner against Smt. Savita Shukla in the Court at Bhopal was transferred from Bhopal to Katni. Subsequently all the cases between the petitioner and the complainant/respondent as well his daughter Smt. Savita Shukla pending in various Courts at Katni were transferred from Katni to Jabalpur by this Court on the ground that the petitioner was not able even to engage a Counsel at Katni.
14. On 5.4.1999, Smt. Savita Shukla sent a letter under Certificate of Posting to the petitioner. In this letter she has written inter alia that the petitioner has deserted her since last about seven years without any reason. (Emphasis supplied)
15. On 11.4.2001 Smt. Savita Shukla sent a notice to the petitioner. It has been averred therein by her that she sent a notice not only to the petitioner but also to his Managing Director asking as to when the petitioner intended to come to Katni to fetch her, She has, further, written that the petitioner neither sent any reply to the said notice nor came to her parents’ house to fetch her. It has, further, been averred by her that on 14.1.2001 she had conversation on telephone witin the mother of the petitioner and during that conversation the mother did not indicate as to when the wife would be called at her in-laws’ house.
16. Smt. Savita Shukla instituted a civil suit for restitution of conjugal rights against the petitioner in the year of 1994.
17. The facts that the respondent/complainant created circumstances compelling the petitioner not to be able to engage any Counsel, at. Katni, gave threatening in open Court aiming at the petitioner that one who intended to defend the case would not be able to again appear, in the Court, and the wife stressed that her father and uncle are Advocates and brother is not only an Advocate but a leader of Congress Party at Katni, and that the petitioner filed a divorce petition against the wife in the year of 1994 are so enormous that even a person of ordinary prudence can never believe that the petitioner visited the respondent’s house at Katni in 1997 and made a demand of dowry as alleged by the respondent/ complainant.
18. In view of above, it is abundantly clear that though the offence punishable under Section 498-A, I.P.C. is a continuous offence but there must be a continuity in existence. In the present case, even if, if is assumed that Smt. Savita Shukla was threatened by the petitioner and was subjected to cruelty for demand of dowry by him on 1.6.1993 and prior to that date, there is nothing on record to prima facie show that after 1.6.1993 she was ever subjected to cruelty for demand of dowry or was threatened by her husband. The continuity of the offence under Section 498-A, I.P.C., therefore, ceased after 1.6.1993. The criminal proceedings against’ the petitioner for offence under Section 498-A, I.P.C., therefore, should have been initiated within three years from 1.6.1993. Since the present complaint has been filed on 1.8.1997 it is apparently barred by limitation.
19. Having regard to the facts and circumstances, it is also abundantly clear that the allegations made by the respendent/complainant or his daughter, the wife of the petitioner, regarding the demand of dowry and consequent Cruel behaviour with the wife are nothing but figment of imagination. Had Smt. Savita Shukla been subjected to cruelty for demand of dowry by her husband, the petitioner, as alleged by her, she would not have filed the petition for restitution of conjugal, rights against her husband. This circumstance is indicative of the fact that the allegations made by the respondent/complainant and Smt. Savita Shukla against the petitioner that she was being subjected to cruelty for demand of dowry by the petitioner is false and baseless.
20. Moreover, as pointed out earlier, if Smt. Savita Shukla had been subjected to cruelty for demand of dowry by her husband as alleged, she would not have written letter dated 11.4.2001 to her husband asking as to when the petitioner was coming to fetch her. She also mentioned, as pointed-out earlier, that during the conversation between Smt. Savita Shukla and her mother-in-law, no indication was given by her mother-in-law as to when she would be taken back to her-in-laws’ house. In her letter dated 5.4.1999 written to her husband, she has categorically stated that she has been deserted for last about seven years by her husband without any reason. All these facts and circumstances go to show that her allegations that she was being subjected to cruelty by her husband for demand of dowry are false, frivolous and baseless.
21. Admittedly the petitioner filed a petition for divorce against his wife Smt. Savita Shukla on 10.4.1994. Had he demanded dowry and intended to extort the money from his wife or her relations, he would not have filed petition for divorce on 10.4.1994. It is apparently clear that the present complaint has been filed by the complainant more than three years after filing of divorce petition by the petitioner against Smt. Savita Shukla.
22. In Niranjan Singh Karan Singh Punjabi v. Jitendra Bhimraj Bijja & Ors., AIR 1990 SC 1962, the Supreme Court has held that at the stage of framing of charge, the Court is required to evaluate the material and documents on record in order to find out if the facts emerging therefrom taken at their face value; prima facie disclose the existence of all the ingredients constituting the alleged offence. It has, further, been held that the Court may for this limited purpose sift the evidence as it cannot be expected even at that initial stage to accept all that the prosecution states as gospel truth even if it is opposed to common sense or the broad probabilities of the case.
23. The facts of filing a petition by Smt. Savita Shukla for restitution of conjugal rights against the petitioner, writing above letters and notice to the petitioner expressing her desire to go to the residence of her husband, and during the conversation on telephone between herself and her mother-in-law expecting that she would be told as to when she would be taken to the house of her in-laws, clearly falsify her contention, that she was being subjected to cruelty for demand of dowry or was being threatened by her husband.
24. I had an occasion to consider the same point in Krishna Kumar Pandey & Ors. v. State of M.P. & Anr., 2001 (1) MPJR 163. The following observations of this Court in Krishna Kumar Pandey’s case (supra), are relevant :
“5. A Court of Law cannot remain a silent spectator and cannot be made a tool of gratifying personal vengeance of any party. Therefore, in the foregoing circumstances of this case, the wife cannot be permitted to take recourse by initiating a false action by lodging a report under Section 498-A, I.P.C. The provisions of Section 498-A have been incorporated in the Indian Penal Code by amendment with a view to provide special provision to protect and safeguard the interests of weaker sex. However, the tendency to wreak vengeance against husband which is not unusual to notice these clays, has to be checked and deserves to be nipped in the buds, in suitable cases otherwise tire innocent members of her-in-laws shall feel insecured as the sword of Sechon 498-A shall continue to hang over them. Therefore, in cases where facts available on record even prima facie indicates at the stage of framing of charge, that criminal proceedings have been initiated by angered wife for wreaking her vengeance against her husband and her in-laws by complaining of offence under Section 498-A, I.P.C. etc, the Trial Court should be circumspect and careful to examine the report and should not frame charge and stop proceedings of the trial.”
25. For the reasons stated above, I am of the considered opinion that the continuance of the criminal rproceedings against the petitioner on the basis of the complaint filed by the respondent is an abuse of the process of the Court and, therefore, quashing of the said proceedings in exercise of inherent jurisdiction under Section 482, Cr.P.C. is called for. The petition is, therefore, allowed and the impugned order is quashed and the proceedings are set aside.
26. The respondent/complainant is a practising Advocate at Katni. By loudly shouting at the petitioner and using word “Foolish” as also shouting in open Court that one who intended to defend his case would not be able to appear in the Court in future, the respondent/complainant appears to have committed not only the contempt of the Trial Court, but also professional misconduct. It would, therefore, be just and proper if M.C.C is registered against him. After registering M.C.C, a notice be given to him as to why he may not be punished for alleged contempt of the Trial Court and matter reported to the State Bar Council for taking suitable action for alleged professional misconduct. A copy of this order be placed in the record of M.C.C.