Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

The National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, India has expressed serious concern over the rising incidents of sexual assault and, taking suo motu cognizance of media reports in this regard today, issued notices to Centre, States and UTs calling for reports on SOP to deal with such cases and use of Nirbhaya Fund.

The Commission has observed that there is a dire need for all the stakeholders to come together to work jointly to get rid of this evil.

Issuing the notices, the Commission has further observed that the largest democracy of the world, which has adopted the longest written constitution and has a rich cultural heritage of gender equality, is today being criticized for having the most unsafe environment for women. The incidents of rapes, molestation, gender-based discrimination and other such atrocities against women have, unfortunately, become routine media headlines.

The Commission has said that these incidents indeed involve violations of the human rights of the victims. It is well awake to the seriousness of the issue. Being the apex body for the protection and promotion of human rights at the national level, it considers its intervention into the matter necessary to understand as to where the state agencies and other stakeholders are lacking on their part and what can immediately be done.

There have been constitutional and statutory provisions to ensure that the women are not subjected to any kind of discrimination and harassment but there is an alarming trend indicating that things are getting worse amounting to a violation of right to life, liberty, dignity and equality of women across the country.

Recently, a number of such cases have been reported by the media wherein, the women have been subjected to sexual abuse, utmost cruelty and inhuman treatment by the perpetrators showing grave disrespect towards law. There have been instances where the incidents have been reportedly, occurred due to gross negligence by the administration and the law enforcing public agencies.

In Telangana, a 26-year-old veterinarian was reportedly, brutally gang-raped and killed by four accused persons. The culprits not only outraged the dignity of the victim but also killed her and burnt her body. As per media reports, the brother of the victim had approached the Shamshabad police station at around 11.00 PM reporting that his sister is unreachable for the last two hours but his worries were shrugged off by the police personnel and after occurrence of the incident, the FIR was also registered after delay. Though the accused have been arrested but had the timely action been taken by the police, the gruesome incident could, perhaps, be stopped. In another incident, a 25-year-old law student was also reportedly gang-raped by a group of armed men, in Ranchi, Jharkhand.

In another media report, carried today on 02.12.2019, a 6-year-old girl was and strangled with her school belt in Tonk district of Rajasthan on 01.12.2019. The victim was reportedly missing since the previous day. The police have not made any arrest in this case. There have been number of such cases occurred across the country during the recent past. All these incidents have indicate that making stringent laws and funds for the victims alone cannot change the scenario unless the police officers are specially trained and their attitude towards women’s issues also changes.

There seems to be a lack of “Standard Operating Procedure” (SOP) to deal with such kind of incidents and panic situations. It is alleged that whenever anyone goes to a police station for help after disappearance a major or minor female member, the answer of the police officials generally remains that she might have gone with someone. This humiliating and stereotype mindset is needed to be changed. There is need to effectively address the core issue as this serious challenge has not only created an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty in our society but has also badly tarnishing the image of our country.

Through media reports, the Commission has also come to know that the amount made available under the “Nirbhaya Fund” has been reduced and also not being appropriately utilized by the state governments. A news report, carried today on 2.12.2019 reveaLS that since the year 2014, the UT of Chandigarh has been given a sum of rupees 7.46 crores under Nirbhaya Fund but the administration has spent only 2.60 crore out of it. Mere announcements of schemes, making of laws and formation of funds are not going to serve the purpose unless these are properly implemented.

The Commission, knowing that the subject is being looked into by various fora, has issued notices to the Chief Secretaries of all the State and UTs calling for a report within 6 weeks about the status of Nirbhaya Fund in their states including the details about availability of the fund and the money spent, during last 3 years.

The Commission has also issued notices to the Directors General of Police of all the states and UTs calling for their response within 6 weeks about the Standard Operating Procedure and the best practices adopted by them to deal with the matters relating to sexual abuse and atrocities against women including the details of the action taken against the police officers/officials found insensitive and guilty of negligence towards issues related to women.

The Commission has also considered it necessary to call for a detailed from the Secretary, Union Ministry of Women and Child Development, giving details about the schemes/guidelines initiated by the union government and status of their implementation, including Nirbhaya Fund, by the States/UTs. The response is expected within 6 weeks.

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: Sandeep K. Shinde, J. dismissed an appeal filed by the State against the order of acquittal by the trial court in respect to the matter pertaining to Sections 498-A and 306 of Penal Code, 1860.

State preferred the present appeal under Section 378(1) of CrPC, 1973 against the order of acquittal passed by Additional Sessions Judge.

In accordance with the prosecution case, the deceased suffered suicidal death due to acute cardiorespiratory arrest caused due to 100% burns at her matrimonial house. Deceased’s brother filed the complaint against deceased’s brother-in-law (accused 1) and wife of accused 1 (accused 2) along with sister-in-law of deceased (accused 3), for ill-treating the deceased and for abetting to commit suicide.

Thus, a crime under Section 498-A and 306 read with Section 24 of the Penal Code, 1860 was registered,

Deceased suffered unnatural death within a period of 7 years from the date of her marriage. Trial Court acquitted the accused, having found the prosecution could not establish that the accused ill-treated and caused cruelty to deceased within the meaning of Explanation Clause-a to Section 498-A of the Penal Code, 1860.

Settled Law:

“Cruelty for the purpose of Section 498-A Penal Code, 1860 means any “willful conduct” which is of such a nature as is likely to drive a women to commit suicide or to cause grave injury or danger to life, limb or health (whether mental or physical) of the woman or harassment of the woman where such harassment is with a view to coercing her or any person related to her to meet any unlawful demand for any property or valuable security is on account of failure by her or any person related to her to meet such demand.”

The question involved in the present case is,

“Whether prosecution has established that the “willful conduct” of the accused was of such a nature which drove Shaheeda (deceased) to commit suicide?”

On the date of the incident, a quarrel ensued between the deceased and accused 2, during the course of the same, deceased inflicted injury on the forehead of accused 2 by a stick. It is disclosed that when accused 1 had gone to the police station to report about the assault by deceased on his wife (accused 2), he was informed that the deceased had set herself on fire.

It was reported to the police that there were recurring disputes between the deceased and her in-laws on account of supply and electricity and water.

Thus upon assessing the evidence of deceased’s brother, it cannot be said that “willful conduct” of the accused amounts to cruelty and such alleged conduct drove her to commit suicide. There is no specification laid out as to what kind of ill-treatment or harassment was meted out to the deceased.

High Court on noting the facts and circumstances of the case, held that there is no evidence or rather, it is not the case of the prosecution that the deceased was physically harassed or tortured by the accused. Equally, there is no dependable evidence to hold that, accused were mentally torturing the deceased.

Therefore, by relying on the Supreme Court’s decision in Pawan Kalyan v. State of Haryana, (1998) 3 SCC 309, Ramesh Kumar v. State of Chhattisgarh, (2001) 9 SCC 618 and  Mohd. Hoshan v. State of A.P., (2002) 7 SCC 414, Court held that the trial court is consistent with the evidence which cannot be faulted with and hence no interference is called for. The appeal, therefore, fails and is dismissed. [State of Maharashtra v. Ibrahim Ruknuddin Bagkari, Criminal Appeal No. 1267 of 2003, decided on 11-09-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

“There is pain in being a woman, yes but there is pride in it too.”

-Marry Pauline Lowry

Bombay High Court: A Division Bench of Pradeep Nandrajog, C.J. and Bharati Dangre, J., while addressing a criminal appeal explained the agony that was suffered by the deceased – Vaishali in the present case by mentioning the quote above and further stated that,

“Vaishali suffered the pain but did not survive to experience the pride of being a woman – a creator, born to create and before this, she exited the world by extinguishing the flame of her life.”

In the present case, young girl Vaishali ended her life by consuming Dunet methanol in the form of an insecticide and succumbed to the same. PW-1 (deceased’s father) lodged a complaint on the very same day that Vaishali ended her life. PW-1 alleged that his daughter had complained about cruel treatment inflicted on her by her mother-in-law, sister-in-law and her husband (Dinesh).

Further it has been stated that, she was subjected to harassment by her mother-in-law on account of the fact that she intended to marry her son to a girl from her parental side and in turn wanted her daughter Rupali to be married into her maternal family but on account of the marriage of the deceased with her son Dinesh, the relationship contemplated was not fructified. Mother-in-law had also raised a demand of Rs 2 lakhs and on account of such demand deceased was subjected to cruelty both physical and mental.

Reference was made to the incident where Vaishali (deceased) was admitted to a hospital and was found in an unconscious condition. Husband of the deceased stated that Vaishali had consumed insecticide on having a verbal altercation with the mother in law. Therefore based on the above stated, FIR under Sections 498-A, 304-B and 306, Penal Code, 1860 was registered.

Matter was committed to Additional Sessions Judge, Pune who framed the charges against the accused persons under Section 498-A read with Section 34 IPC and he also framed a charge under Section 302 read with Section 34 IPC, in the alternative, a charge under Section 306 and 304-B IPC.

Conclusion

High Court, with the assistance of Counsel for the accused Sanjiv Kadam and learned APP, perused the evidence adduced before the Sessions Court.

Within a period of 6 months of her marriage, deceased committed suicide. Harassment was in the form of taunts and her unacceptability in the house. It also speaks of the deceased being ridiculed by the mother-in-law and her behaviour was reiterated by other members of the family including the husband of the deceased.

“Deceased who was unhappy on account of the harassment could see no hope and she took the desperate step to escape the unbearable suffering and pain which she was subjected to in an attempt not to put an end to her life but to end the traumatic ordeal which she had to undergo within a short span of her marriage life.”

Court added that, Section 498-A came to be inserted to suitably deal not only with the cases of dowry death but also cases of cruelty to a married woman by her in-laws. Raison d’etre of Section 498-A being to prevent the torture being inflicted on a married woman by her husband or his relations and it is not restricted to only in relation to the demands of dowry but it also intended to deal with cruelty inflicted upon a woman in the form of a willful conduct which drives a woman to commit suicide.

Therefore, on perusal of the judgment of the Trial Court, it is noted that the Sessions Judge grossly erred in not considering the evidence brought on record against the deceased’s husband (Dinesh) who was also party to the ill-treatment inflicted to the deceased.

Prosecution witnesses of the deceased have, in unequivocal terms, deposed that Vaishali categorically stated that she was subjected to harassment at the hands of her husband, who also joined in the choir,

“Husband, the only son to whom Vaishali was married played a positive role in the harassment of Vaishali which drove her to commit suicide and this wilful conduct of the husband has escaped the attention of learned Sessions Judge, who has acquitted him of the offence punishable under Section 498-A IPC.”

Object of introducing stringent provision in the IPC in the form of Section 498-A being to deal with such willful conduct, which led to the death of Vaishali, according to the Court should not escape the clutches of law and such conduct as also the persons who inflict such conduct actuating a young married women to end her life, needs to be penalised particularly when the evidence brought on record establishing such a conduct.

In view of the above, the conviction and sentence of the mother-in-law of the deceased is upheld and a notice is issued to Dinesh (husband of the deceased) who was erroneously acquitted by the trial court of the offence punishable under Section 498-A by affording him an opportunity of hearing.[Mandakini Balasaheb Kalbhor v. State of Maharashtra, 2019 SCC OnLine Bom 1774, decided on 04-09-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Rajasthan High Court: A Division Bench of Sandeep Mehta and Abhay Chaturvedi, JJ., allowed a Habeas Corpus Petition and allowed the petitioner to stay with his wife, and directing the authorities to provide her with adequate protection.

In the instant case, the corpus, Urmila, a Government teacher posted at Jalore District, was staying at Nari Niketan, Jodhpur expressed her willingness to stay with the petitioner, her husband, with whom she was legally married. However, she conveyed an apprehension that she and her family might be under scrutiny and subject to harassment from the members of the community. The Counsel representing the petitioner, Pradeep Choudhary, thus prayed to the Court for providing adequate measures against such mishaps.

The High Court, in an in-camera proceeding, took into consideration the prayer of the petitioner and directed the police authorities to accompany the petitioner, his wife, and the family till they reach the matrimonial home. The petitioner was also provided an assurance of necessary steps to be taken in case of any untoward incident taking place by the members of the society.[Dinesh Suthar v. State of Rajasthan, 2019 SCC OnLine Raj 1229, decided on 01-07-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Mukta Gupta, J. dismissed a writ petition wherein the petitioner husband sought quashing of FIR registered under Section 498-A, 406 and 34 IPC at Police Station, Paschim Vihar, Delhi.

The petitioner, who was represented by Hitender Kapur, Advocate, took three grounds seeking to quash FIR: (i) lack of territorial jurisdiction contending that no offence has taken place in Delhi and thus Police Station has no jurisdiction to investigate and the Trial Court has no jurisdiction to try the offence; (ii) that the FIR was not lodged within the period of limitation; (iii) that on the face of the FIR the allegations are not made out.

Rajesh Mahajan, ASC with Jyoti Babbar, Advocate appeared for the State, while Kamal Gupta, Advocate represented the respondent wife.

(i) Territorial Jurisdiction

The High Court followed the decision in Rupali Devi v. State of U.P., (2019) 5 SCC 384, wherein it was held that even in cases where there is no allegation of harassment or demand of dowry at the parental place of the complainant who comes to take refuge at her parental place, she can lodge an FIR in the said Police Station, which can be investigated by the officer of the said Police Station and the Trial Court having jurisdiction on the said Police Station would have jurisdiction to try the said offence.

Moreover, the case of the complainant in the FIR itself was that her costly items, jewellery, etc., were taken on the ground that they were to be kept in a locker in Delhi so that it could be safe, thus the jewellery and costly items were retained in Delhi. Marriage being performed at Delhi, the entrustment of articles also took place at Delhi. Hence in view of Section 181(4) CrPC, the Court at Delhi would have jurisdiction to try the offence. Thus, this Court finds no merit in the first argument raised.

(ii) Limitation

On facts, it was held that the complaint was filed within the period of limitation. It was also observed that it is trite law that while taking cognizance even if there is delay in matrimonial matters the Court has to see whether it is in the interest of justice to condone the delay in taking the cognizance.

(iii) Nature of allegations

It was noted that the complainant has alleged that the accused person used to taunt her for the kind of clothes given to them at the function and at the wedding and that the same was not as per their demand and status. Allegations were also made regarding entrustment if costly items including jewellery. The Court was of the view that prima facie, the allegations constituting offence punishable under Sections 498-A and 406 IPC were made out.[Ankur Narang v. State (NCT of Delhi), 2019 SCC OnLine Del 8933, decided on 30-04-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Rajasthan High Court: Sanjeev Prakash Sharma (V.J.), J. passed an order for the formation of the committee at the district level in order to resolve the dispute between the police and Advocate without taking the matter to the High Court.

The Court noted certain events which took place at the police station resulting in harassment and manhandling of an advocate and thus a Commissioner of Police and Police Comissionerate were called upon and were asked to submit the report with regard to the said incident.  The reports were sent by the Police Commissioner to the Government Advocate in which it was submitted that the concerned Assistant Sub-inspector had been removed and inquiry was being conducted against the Assistant Commissioner of the police.

N.A. Naqvi, submitted that such incident relating to advocates going to various police stations in the districts are being noticed time and again and the advocates apprehend that they are not being properly attended by the police officials and they were being harassed and intimidated. It was suggested that the Coordination Committee be formed in each district so that such type of matter may be handled properly in various districts and dispute between the police authorities and the advocates may not arise in future.

Rajendra Yadav, Government Counsel agreed and submitted that there should not be any conflict between two main pillars of administration of law and order namely police as well as the lawyers and states that Committee in this regard shall be formed in each district and effective powers shall be provided to such Committee to take action in this regard.

The Court after submission held that as there exists a committee at the High Court, the court suggested that Coordination Committee at each district level should be functioning so that the matters may not have to travel up to the high court with regard to issues which can be sorted out at the level of the district alone.

The case was kept open for further orders and suggestion on the formation of the committee which according to the court should include one Official from the concerned police department so that the matter can be examined impartially. The Chairmanship of such a Committee should be given to either the District Judge of the concerned district or to any retired High Court Judge, if need so arises.[Bharat Yadav v. State of Rajasthan, 2019 SCC OnLine Raj 782, decided on 07-06-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Sanjeev Sachdeva, J. dismissed a criminal revision petition filed against the order of the trial court whereby charge under Section 498-A (husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty) IPC was framed against the petitioner.

Petitioner was married to the deceased who committed suicide on the very next day of their first marriage anniversary. FIR under Sections 306 (abetment of suicide) and 498-A was registered against the petitioner at the behest of the mother of the deceased. An alleged suicide note was found which was verified to be written in the handwriting of the deceased. The trial court discharged the petitioner of the offence under Section 306 holding that the said suicide note exonerated him as it states that the deceased was taking the steps voluntarily. However, it was found that the allegations levelled by the mother and brothers of the deceased that the petitioner maltreated the deceased and committed physical and mental cruelty were specific and therefore framed a charge under Section 498-A against him.

Senior Advocate Harish Salve contended that as the trial court found insufficient material to proceed under Section 306, on the same analogy, there was insufficient material to even frame a charge under Section 498-A.

Relying on the Supreme Court decisions in Girdhar Shankar Tawade v. State of Maharashtra, (2002) 5 SCC 177 and Ramesh Kumar v. State of Chhattisgarh, (2001) 9 SCC 618, the High Court reiterated that charges under Sections 306 and 498-A IPC are independent of each other and acquittal of one does not lead to acquittal of the other. It was observed: “Though, there may be an overlap with regard to cruelty being meted out to the deceased in both the Sections, however, the degree of cruelty to constitute abetment under Section 306 IPC would be of higher than the degree of harassment and cruelty to constitute an offence under Section 498-A IPC. It cannot be held that because petitioner has been discharged of an offence under Section 306 IPC, it would automatically lead to a discharge of the offence under Section 498-A IPC.”

In the present case, it was found that there was sufficient material on record to give rise to grave suspicion against the petitioner for framing a charge under Section 498- IPC. Thus, finding no infirmity in the impugned order, the petition was accordingly dismissed.[Kaushal Kishore v. State (NCT of Delhi), 2019 SCC OnLine Del 8713, decided on 28-05-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madhya Pradesh High Court: S.C. Sharma, J. contemplated a petition filed against the initiation of the Departmental enquiry against the said petitioner and was noted that the ‘case certainly reflects an episode in which a young tribal girl was harassed for almost five years.’

Facts to the extent necessary are, petitioner was appointed as a Sub Inspector, in the year 2007; she was posted at various districts and in 2013 was deputed for election duty. In the course of her duty, she stopped an election observer IAS officer’s vehicle; it also carried a red beacon over it. Petitioner contended that the officer was offended by the act and was infuriated; officer misbehaved with her and also submitted a report against her for misconduct. Eventually, Secretary of Home Department wrote a letter to the State Election Commission that no case is made against the election observer (IAS).

Petitioner contended that, she submitted a report to the superiors and brought it to their notice that the alleged officer has abused and mistreated her. Following which she was on the very same day of incident transferred to a different district. Petitioner submitted that she was demoralized being a young girl, insulted and humiliated, which caused her mental agony and she resigned. She had also reported the matter to State Women Commission regarding her insult and outrage. The Commission directed Superintended of Police to register a case against the officer i.e. election observer. The petitioner stated that despite the reminder from Commission no FIR was lodged and no order was passed by the alleged respondents in respect of resignation, which was not accepted. She stated that no posting order was given to the petitioner and in 2014 the Superintendent of Police, informed the Commission that no case is made out against the Election Observer.

The respondent contended that he had submitted a detailed report to the Inspector General of Police, about the alleged transfer of the petitioner. He also ordered an inquiry and directed the matter to Additional Superintendent. The respondent further contended that in reply to the various complaints of the petitioner, a proper inquiry in the matter was conducted.

The State Women Commission intervened and forwarded the matter to Chief Election Commission after recording the statements of the petitioner. However, no case was registered against officer. It was observed by the alleged respondents that petitioner is not attending her duties. Aggrieved by such responses, denial of resignation and inaction to provide a relevant place of posting the petitioner filed a writ in the proper Court.

The Court observed that, charge sheet was recorded and revealed, that the petitioner, after she was attached to the office of Superintendent of Police in 2013, had not joined duties at the place of posting and no other charge was levelled against her. The Court further noted another important aspect of the case was, that the respondents have passed an order which categorically stated that request of resignation was rejected.

The Court issued an interim order which stayed the departmental enquiry against the petitioner. Court further observed that no place of posting was provided to the petitioner during the pendency of the writ petition. Petitioner was allowed to join her duties. It was held that the departmental inquiry was not related to the incident that provoked the petitioner to resign, but regarding her absence from duty. The resignation was treated as withdrawn. Court carefully went through the charge sheet and it was not a case where the petitioner was involved in committing a crime in respect of some act relating to moral turpitude, embezzlement or any other heinous offence. Mere case where the petitioner was not provided a posting order, in spite of her repeated request and charge sheet has been issued for not joining the duty. However, the Court not granted back wages to the petitioner.[Amrita Solanki v. State of M.P., 2019 SCC OnLine MP 869, decided on 15-05-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madhya Pradesh High Court: Vivek Rusia, J. entertained a writ petition seeking police protection from relatives and members of society for the alleged harassment after the marriage of the petitioners. 

The petitioners contended that, they had entered into the wedlock voluntarily after acquiring majority (age) but the respondents have threatened them of their life and hence, they demand protection from the authorities. 

The learned counsel for the petitioner, R.K. Sharma, submitted that petitioners were harassed because the respondents and alleged members had objection with the valid marriage and the safety of petitioners were at stake due to such threats. It is to be noted that valid age of the petitioners are not in question. 

The counsel relied on the judgment of the Supreme Court, In Lata Singh v. State of U.P., (2006) 5 SCC 475, where it was observed that “this is free and democratic country and once a person becomes a major can marry whoever he or she likes. If the parents of the boy or girl do not approve of such inter-caste or inter-religious marriage the maximum they can do is that they can cut-off social relation with the son or daughter, but they cannot give threats or commit or instigate acts of violence and cannot harass the person who undergoes such inter-caste or inter-religious relationship marriage.” 

Highlighting the matter of ‘Khap Panchayat’ and ‘Honour Killing’ the counsel further submitted that such issues have already been discussed by Supreme Court vividly and were serious matter of concern. State was directed to take preventive and remedial punitive measures to discourage such practices. Emphasizing the judgment of Shakti Vahini v. Union of India, (2018) 7 SCC 192, where the Supreme Court elaborated various measures and directed various agencies of the State in this regard. It was held that “To meet the challenges of the agonizing effect of honour crime, we think that there has to be preventive, remedial and punitive measures and accordingly, we state the broad contours and the modalities with liberty to the executive and the police administration of the concerned States to add further measures to evolve a robust mechanism for the stated purposes”.

The Court, based on the directives of the Supreme Court in Shakti Vahini, allowed the writ and directed the Superintendent of Police to provide security to the petitioners,  also to comply with the orders. [Mitali v. State of M.P., 2019 SCC OnLine MP 795, decided on 09-05-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Sanjeev Sachdeva, J. dismissed a petition filed against the judgment of Revisional Court whereby petitioner’s / complainant’s in-laws were discharged of the offences under  Sections 498-A and 34 IPC.

In 2013, petitioner had filed an FIR against her husband and in-laws alleging harassment. It was alleged that her husband used to come late and beat the petitioner and when she complained to her in-laws, they behaved in the same manner. She was thrown out of the matrimonial house and was threatened not to enter again.

Anuj Kr Ranjan, Advocate for the petitioner submitted that there was sufficient material on record to substantiate framing of charge under Section 498-A. Per contra, Kishan N. Rana, Advocate for in-laws submitted that allegations against them were bald and even the investigation did not ravel any incriminating material.

After perusing the FIR, it was noted by the High Court that “in one breath, the petitioner named all the family members without specific role ascribed to any one of them.”Though instances were mentioned vis-a-vis her mother-in-law and brother of father-in-law, however, no specifics about date, time or place were given. Omnibus allegations were made which according to the Court did not justify framing a charge under Section 498-A as “for a change to be framed, the evidence gathered by the prosecution should not only give rise to suspicion but there should be grave suspicion that the accused have committed the offence.” Consequently, the petition was dismissed. It may be noted that in the present case, a charge was framed against the husband who was facing trial. [Anju v. State (NCT of Delhi), 2019 SCC OnLine Del 6865, dated 04-02-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Chhattisgarh High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Vimla Singh Kapoor, J. dismissed a revision petition on account of it lacking substance.

The complainant had accused the respondent of harassing her for not bringing sufficient dowry after some time of the marriage for which she was deprived of food and clothing by the respondents even though household items were given at the time of marriage. Further after the birth of their child a new list altogether was demanded dowry. Subsequently, the case was brought before the High Court but finding no force in the complaint, the respondent was acquitted for which the present revision petition lies.

After analyzing the facts and evidences, it wasn’t clear as to after how many years the harassment started rather from the statement of the mother of the complainant she seemed to spent the initial years happily at her matrimonial home along with the fact that the cousin of the complainant was married in the same family yet she showed no similar signs. Also in order to settle the dispute, a village meeting was called but none of the witnesses was examined on record and what was pertinent to note was the fact that first an application for maintenance was made followed by a complaint for cruelty and harassment about a month thereafter which further weakened her case. Accordingly, the revision petition was dismissed for being exaggerated.[Sangeeta Bai Nishad v. Manoj Kumar,2018 SCC OnLine Chh 659, order dated 27-11-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: A Division Bench of Pankaj Mithal and Ravindra Nath Kakkar, JJ., dismissed a writ petition seeking protection from the harassment and interference into the personal lives of the petitioners, which they were being subjected to by the respondents.

The petitioners were young men of the age of 20 and 22 years respectively, with the latter being identified as a transgender; not well educated and plied their trade as a saree-salesman and a dancer, earning modest wages. They stated that they had been living in the same residential area, had fallen in love and were living together. However, the father of one of the petitioners, as well as his maternal uncle, did not approve of the situation and thus, had subjected the petitioners to harassment and abuse, as a result of which the petitioners had filed a writ petition seeking protection from the aforementioned harassment, as they had not committed any offence so as to warrant any outside interference into their private lives.

The Court held that it is the prerogative of the welfare state to ensure that the law and order in the state, as well as its overall security, are given the utmost importance and priority. However, it does not imply that every individual is to be accorded separate protection, something which is not even feasible for the state to provide, and hence,the state is not obligated to interfere in the private lives of individuals and the predicament in which the petitioners find themselves, can only be resolved internally, or through society. Furthermore, the Court held that, the petitioners can resort to the appropriate formal mechanisms of grievance redressal for harassment provided under the law, such as approaching the magistrate or filing an FIR, but the remedy that the petitioners sought for in the writ petition was one which cannot be granted as the extraordinary jurisdiction of the court cannot be exercised where there has been no miscarriage of justice and thus, there was no need for the court to exercise the same in the present case. [Gulfam Malik v. State of U.P., Writ C No. – 32683 of 2018, order dated 27-09-2018]

Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: The Bench comprising of CJ Dipak Misra and AM Khanwilkar and Dr DY Chandrachud, JJ., sought centre’s response on the plea seeking court-monitored CBI probe into the alleged suicide of BK Bansal, Ministry of Corporate Affairs’ official.

BK Bansal was the former Director General Corporate Affairs, who had hanged himself along with his son with a suicide note stating the reason to be “harassment” by CBI. Bansal was on bail when he committed suicide.

Further, a notice was issued to Centre in the same regard after the PIL was mentioned.

[Source: PTI]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of R.D. Dhanuka, J., addressed a petition filed under Article 227 of the Constitution of India in regard to an order passed by the Tribunal for Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens under the provisions of the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007.

The facts of the case stated that Respondent 1 had prayed for maintenance and eviction of her son, the petitioner and his family on various grounds for which the tribunal had passed an order in favour of Respondent 1. The said order of the tribunal was challenged by the petitioner son.

The contentions of the petitioner were that the order of the tribunal was impugned as the complaint was against the petitioner and not his son, wife, and daughter but the tribunal’s order was against all. He also submitted that the entire order is without jurisdiction as the tribunal has no jurisdiction under Section 4 of the said Act.

While giving severity to the facts such as harassment, cruelty and torture being caused to Respondent 1 by the petitioner and his family, the Court firstly considered the issue of jurisdiction, for which it placed reliance on Sunny Paul v. State (NCT of Delhi),2017 SCC OnLine Del 7451 stating that the tribunal has ample of powers to pass an order of eviction under the provisions of Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007. Therefore, by highlighting the essence of Section 4 of the above-mentioned Act and on weighing the gravity of the issue in the present case, High Court dismissed the petition on finding no merits and upheld the Tribunal’s order. [Dattatrey Shivaji Mane v. Lilabai Shivaji Mane,2018 SCC OnLine Bom 2246, dated 26-06-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Chhattisgarh High Court: Conviction of the accused under Section 304-B of IPC was set aside by a Single Judge Bench comprising of Arvind Singh Chandel, J., on the ground that the facts did not show that cruelty or harassment was meted out to the deceased wife ‘soon before her death’.
The accused was convicted by the trial court under Section 304-B. The allegation against him was that he threatened her wife- the deceased, to bring Rupees Ten thousand from her maternal home and harassed her to the extent that she committed suicide. The conviction of the accused was based on the statements of the mother and the sister of the deceased.
The High Court considered the evidence on record and submissions made on behalf of the parties and found that there were material discrepancies in the witness’ statements. The sister of the deceased stated that she lived with the deceased in their maternal home for about one and a half month and there also the accused came and poured kerosene on the deceased. However, it was found that the alleged incidents of fights and quarrels related to domestic issues and not to demand of dowry. Further, the incident alleged by the sister of the deceased happened about six months before her death. The Court perused Section 304-B and held that in the facts and circumstances of the case, it could not be said that cruelty or harassment was meted out to the deceased ‘soon before her death’. Therefore, the Court was of the view that the order of conviction of the accused was liable to be quashed.
The appeal was allowed and the order the trial court convicting and sentencing the accused under Section 304-B IPC was set aside. [Binda Prasad v. State of M.P. (Now Chhattisgarh),  2018 SCC OnLine Chh 380,  order dated 04-04-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

High Court of Judicature of Madras: A Single Judge Bench comprising of M. S. Ramesh, J., recently addressed a petition that was filed under Section 482 Code of Criminal Procedure Code which prayed to the Court to direct the respondent Police to not harass the petitioners under the pretence of ongoing investigation/enquiry.

The Court acknowledged that Investigation Officers hold unfettered powers with respect to an enquiry into a non cognizable offence or a cognizable offence but it needs to be ensured that such powers are legitimately exercised. The Court observed that even though the Magistrate is empowered with the privileges of being a guardian in all stages of the police investigation, he’s still not handed over with powers which allow him to interfere with the actual investigation or the mode of investigation.

The Court held that its exercising of powers under Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code would not normally allow it to interfere with the investigation conducted by a police officer but, it would also not turn a blind eye to instances of harassment under the guise of investigation by the police. It also observed that what constitutes as “harassment” could fall under a broad ambit and hence, “harassment” in the words of the petitioners could be different from what the respondents thought to be “harassment”.

The Court issued the following guidelines to curb harassment from taking place while investigation was going on:

(i) When a person named in a complaint, or a witness needs to be summoned, the police officer shall present such a person with a written summon under Section 160 of the Criminal Procedure Code specifying the date and time for appearing before the enquiry;

(ii) The minutes of the enquiry shall be recorded in the general diary of the police station;

(iii) The Police Officers shall not indulge in harassing the persons being investigated.

[A. N. Lalman Lal v. State of Tamil Nadu, 2017 SCC OnLine Mad 10974, order dated 7.12.2017]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Punjab and Haryana High Court: The High Court recently addressed the case of petitioners under Section 482 CrPC for quashing the FIR filed under Sections 323, 406, 498-A, 420, 506 and 120-B IPC on the ground that they had been falsely implicated in the case. Petitioner 1  was the mother-in-law of the complainant who lodged complaint against her as well as her husband after the matrimonial relations of complainant and her husband did not remain cordial any more.

After the registration of FIR, when the DSP thoroughly investigated into the matter, he concluded that the dispute was between the husband and wife and no role could be attributed to Kamaljit Kaur- the petitioner. After this, the complainant prepared a Divorce Deed in which she had clearly testified that she was giving divorce to her husband and had received lump sum money from the petitioner as life time maintenance as well as alimony.

However after this, the complainant filed a complaint against the petitioner under Section 156(3) CrPC before the Magistrate alleging the demand of dowry from her. The petitioner now before the High Court contended that she had been roped in the case without any adequate reasons and that the dispute was between her daughter-in-law and the son who does not even reside with them, but in Canada. The petitioner also highlighted the contents of the ‘Divorce Deed’ that had been signed by the complainant.

The Court looked into the antecedents of the case and found that main allegations of the complainant have been against her husband that he solemnized another marriage in Canada after taking dowry from her father and did not talk to her after that and so on. The Court observed that the allegations were general in nature qua the petitioners and thus, not sustainable. Also, the Bench of Jaishree Thakur, J. said that details made out in the FIR do not satisfy the ingredients of Sections 406 and 498-A against the petitioners.

The Bench cited Preeti Gupta v. State of Jharkhand, (2010) 7 SCC 667 in support of its observations in which it has been laid down by the Supreme Court that the allegations of harassment of husband’s close relations to the complainant filing under Section 498-A, should be scrutinized with great care and circumspection. It further considered the fact that the petitioner had already paid maintenance to the complainant and was also looking after the minor child of complainant and her husband, it decide to accept the petition and quash the FIR against petitioners. [Kamaljit Kaur @ Kamla Devi v. State of Haryana, 2017 SCC OnLine P&H 2344, decided on 15.09.2017]