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FIR Lodged By Wife After Knowing That Husband Is Going To Mary Another Lady : MP HC Discharges Man U/S 498A IPC

 

In all fairness, the Madhya Pradesh High Court has as recently as on August 18, 2021 in a learned, laudable, landmark and latest judgment titled Abhishek Pandey @ Ramji Pandey and others vs State of Madhya Pradesh and Others in Criminal Revision No. 521/2021 while observing that the wife lodged an FIR against her husband after coming to know that her is going to mary another lady has very rightly discharged the husband of the charges under Section 498-A of IPC and Section 3/4 of Dowry Prohibition Act. The law laid down in this noteworthy judgment as stated in the outset is that, “FIR lodged under Section 498-A of IPC and Section 3/4 of Dowry Prohibition Act after coming to know that husband is going to marry another lady, alleging incidents occurred almost two years prior to the date of lodging the FIR and after filing suit for seeking decree of divorce under Section 13-A of Hindu Marriage Act. The FIR is nothing but an afterthought and counter-blast to the suit filed by the husband for seeking decree of divorce. Charges framed are liable to be quashed.”

To start with, a single Judge Bench comprising of Justice Sanjay Dwivedi of Madhya Pradesh High Court whose principal seat is at Jabalpur sets the ball rolling by first and foremost putting forth in para 1 that, “The applicants have preferred this criminal revision under Section 397(1) read with Section 401 of the Code of Criminal Procedure challenging the order dated 16.02.2021 passed in SCATR No. 38/2020 by Special Judge, (Atrocities) Mandla framing charge against the applicant no.1 under Section 498-A of IPC and Section 3/4 of Dowry Prohibition Act and Sections 3(1) (z), 3(1)(zc) of SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and against the applicant nos. 2 and 3 under Section 498-A of IPC, Section 3/4 of Dowry Prohibition Act and Sections 3(1) (s), 3(1)(z) and Section 3(1) (zc) of SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.”

It is worth mentioning that the Bench then observes in para 2 that, “As per the applicants, the court below has not considered the factual aspects of the matter in consonance with the actual existing legal position and ignoring the same, framed charges against the applicants.”

While elaborating on the facts of the case, the Bench then envisages in para 3 that, “For deciding the correctness of the order, the important facts of the case in a nutshell are that on 20.04.2015, the applicant no.1 entered into marriage with the non-applicant no.2 at Jagannath Mandir, Jabalpur and out of the said wedlock, the non-applicant no.2 gave birth to a child on 01.03.2016. The non-applicant no.2 belongs to ‘Gond’ community and after marriage, the applicant no.1 and non-applicant no.2 were residing as husband and wife but with effect from 02.01.2016, the non-applicant no.2 started living separately as the relations between them were not cordial and there was some dispute between them. When it became almost impossible to settle the disputes, the applicant no.1 filed a suit on 07.05.2019 seeking a decree of divorce under Section 13-A of Hindu Marriage Act, 1959 at Family Court, Dindori.”

As stated further, the Bench then mentions in para 4 that, “The notice was issued to the non-applicant no.2 and after receiving notice and knowing about filing of the divorce petition, she lodged a complaint to the Police Station, Kotwali, Mandla District Mandla and after enquiring about the complaint, the police registered the offence against the accused persons under Section 498-A of IPC and Section 3/4 of Dowry Prohibition Act. The offence has also been registered under the provisions of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.”

Simply put, the Bench then lays bare in para 10 that, “From the arguments advanced by learned counsel for the parties and the documents available on record, it is clear that undisputedly, the marriage was solemnized between the parties, i.e. applicant no.1 and non-applicant no.2 in the year 2015 and due to bitterness developed in their relations, they started living separately with effect from 02.01.2016.”

To put things in perspective, the Bench then elaborates in para 11 stating that, “On perusal of record, nothing has come to indicate that from the date of living separately till the date of lodging the FIR, any complaint has ever been made by the non-applicant no.2 to any of the authorities or to the police attributing against the applicants that they have ever demanded any dowry or created any act which comes under the provisions of SC/ST Act or any offence was made under Section 3/4 of Dowry Prohibition Act. From the FIR, it is clear that the same was made on 09.01.2020 whereas the husband/applicant no.1 had filed a suit for seeking decree of divorce on 07.05.2019 before the Family Court, Dindori. The notice was issued to the non-applicant no.2 and after the same was served upon her, she filed the complaint.”

Be it noted, the Bench then reveals in para 12 that, “A charge-sheet has been filed by the applicants and from the statement of the complainant/ non-applicant no.2, it reflects that at the time of complaint, she had knowledge about filing of the matrimonial case seeking decree of divorce. It is also clear from the statement that the non-applicant no.2 after coming to know that applicant no.1 was going to get married with a lady namely Bhuvneshwari then only she lodged the report to the police and made several allegations of dowry and also of offences relating to the Atrocities Act.”

It is also worth noting that the Bench then unequivocally lays down in para 13 that, “The High Court in number of cases has observed that in a case where complaint is made by the wife against the husband and his family members only after filing a petition for divorce then the same is considered to be a counter-blast, just to create pressure upon the husband so that he may withdraw the case relating to decree of divorce. It is also observed by the High Court that if the fact indicates that the wife has not raised any voice alleging demand of dowry for long and has also not approached any authority regarding her grievances, but only after filing a suit by the husband complaint is made by the wife then the said complaint is considered to be a counter-blast and prosecution is considered to be an act apparently to harass the husband and his family members and such a complaint/FIR has been quashed.”

Briefly stated, it cannot be glossed over that the Bench then notes in para 16 that, “Further, in case of Sanjay Sthapak & 4 others Vs. State of M.P. and another passed in M.Cr.C. No. 10044/2010, the High Court has also dealt with a situation as is involved in the present case and also analysed the misuse of provisions of Section 498-A of IPC and also discussed the factual aspect that the complaint is made by the wife only after filing of suit by the husband for seeking decree of divorce and there is no corroborative material available then it is considered that the action by the wife is nothing but a counter-blast and as such, allegations made in the FIR are found absurd and improbable and also quashed the FIR.”

Most significantly, the Bench then after discussing everything in detail holds in para 17 that, “Considering the law as has been laid down by the High Court in number of cases, relying upon the view taken by the Supreme Court, I find substance in the submission made by learned counsel for the applicants that in the present case also, the FIR has been lodged by the non-applicant no.2/wife only to harass the applicant no.1 and his family members. Her statement filed along with the charge-sheet clearly reflects that she approached the police only because applicant no.1 was going to marry another lady. The allegations made against the applicants in the report lodged to the police and the statement given by her were relating to the incidents that occurred almost two years prior to the date of FIR. She did not disclose as to why at the relevant point of time, she did not make any complaint. She has also not disclosed and not stated when she started living separately from 2016, she did not lodge any report to the police but only after coming to know about filing of the suit and fact of marriage of the non-applicant no.2 with another lady, the complaint/FIR was lodged to the police. It can be easily presumed that it is nothing but an after-thought and the allegations made in the FIR are improbable and do not constitute the offence as alleged against the applicants.”

Finally, the Bench then holds in para 18 that, “Therefore, the impugned order passed by the court below framing charges against the applicants is not sustainable and it is accordingly set aside for the reason that the Court below did not consider the material aspect which has been discussed by this Court hereinabove. Accordingly, the application filed by the applicants under Section 227 of Cr.P.C. is accordingly allowed. The applicants are discharged from the offences registered vide SCATR No. 38/2020. Ex consequentia, the criminal revision is allowed.”

In sum, the Madhya Pradesh High Court has very rightly discharged the husband of the charges under Section 498-A of the IPC and Section 3/4 of Dowry Prohibition Act. It cannot be just glossed over that the wife lodged the FIR two years after those incidents happened and that too after the husband filed suit for seeking divorce decree. So the court very rightly concluded that, “The FIR is nothing but an afterthought and counter-blast to the suit filed by the husband for seeking decree of divorce. Charges framed are liable to be quashed.” No denying it!

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