The Supreme Court ruled that prosecution of Husband’s Relatives based on general and omnibus allegations leveled against them is an abuse of process of law.
The Complainant Tarannum Akhtar or Soni, was married to Md. Ikram. The appellants are the in-laws of Respondent, the said Respondent initially instituted a criminal complaint against her husband and the appellants before the Court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, Purnea alleging demand for dowry and harassment. Thereafter, when the file was put up before the Sub Divisional Judicial Magistrate Court, Purnea, for passing order at the stage of issuance of summon, the Magistrate concluded that upon perusal of material evidence no prima-facie case was made against the in-laws and that the allegations leveled against them were not specific in nature. Respondent gave another written complaint for registration of FIR under sections 341, 323, 379, 354, 498A read with Section 34 IPC against her husband Md. Ikram and the appellants. The complaint inter-alia alleged that all the accused were pressurizing the Respondent wife to purchase a car as dowry, and threatened to forcibly terminate her pregnancy if the demands were not met.
The Appellants contended that the Police Officer was duty bound to conduct a preliminary inquiry before registering the FIR as the instant case falls within the categories of cases on which a preliminary enquiry may be made, as mandated by the court.
Respondent, the State of Bihar, contended that the present FIR pertains to offenses committed in the year 2019, after assurance was given by the husband Md. Ikram before the Principal Judge Purnea, to not harass the Respondent wife for dowry, and treat her properly.
Respondent wife contended that of the total seven accused, the FIR in question was challenged by only five accused including her husband. It is argued that the impugned order is evidently accepted by the accused husband Md. Ikram alias Sikandar as he has not challenged the impugned High Court judgment.
The division bench of Justice S. Abdul Nazeer and Justice Krishna Murari stated that the court has at numerous instances expressed concern over the misuse of section 498A IPC and the increased tendency of implicating relatives of the husband in matrimonial disputes, without analyzing the long term ramifications of a trial on the complainant as well as the accused.
The court said that it must be borne in mind that although the two FIRs may constitute two independent instances, based on separate transactions, the present complaint fails to establish specific allegations against the in-laws of the Respondent wife. Allowing prosecution in the absence of clear allegations against the in-laws Appellants would simply result in an abuse of the process of law.
The court set aside the impugned order passed by the High Court of Patna and quased the impugned F.I.R. against the Appellants under Sections 341, 323, 379, 354, 498A read with Section 34 IPC.
Case title: Kahkashan Kausar @ Sonam & Ors. v/s State of Bihar & Ors.
Citation: CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 195 OF 2022