On Matrimonial Disputes, Supreme Court Chides “Casually” Naming Family

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The Supreme Court has quashed criminal proceedings against a man and a woman in a dowry harassment case noting that time and again, the family members of the husband are being made accused in matrimonial disputes by making casual reference to them in the FIR.

A bench of justices R Subhash Reddy and Hrishikesh Roy set aside an Allahabad High Court order directing the victim’s brother-in-law and mother-in-law to surrender and apply for bail in a dowry death case.

“It is held that a large number of family members are shown in the FIR by casually mentioning their names and the contents do not disclose their active involvement, as such, taking cognisance of the matter against them was not justified. It is further held that taking cognisance in such type of cases results in abuse of judicial process,” the bench said.

The top court said that a perusal of the complaint filed by the father of the victim, pursuant to which a crime was registered, does not indicate any specific allegations by disclosing the involvement of the accused.

“Even in the statement of father recorded by the police and in the final report, except vague allegations, there are no specific allegations against the appellants to show their involvement for the offences alleged.

“This Court, time and again, has noticed making the family members of the husband as accused by making casual reference to them in matrimonial disputes,” the bench said in a recent order.

The top court said though there is an allegation of causing injuries, there are no other external injuries noticed in the autopsy certificate, except the single ante-mortem injury i.e. ligature mark around the neck, and the cause of death was shown as asphyxia.

“Having regard to the case of the appellants and the material placed on record, we are of the considered view that except vague and bald allegations against the appellants, there are no specific allegations disclosing the involvement of the appellants to prosecute them for the offences alleged,” the bench said.

The father of the victim had lodged a complaint on July 25, 2018, at the Gorakhpur police station that the husband, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, and mother-in-law of his younger daughter continuously used to demand a car and ₹ 10 lakh in cash as dowry.

It is alleged that as the said demands were not met, they used to beat his daughter and threatened to kill her.

Ten days prior to the date of the incident, all the accused with a common intention had allegedly severely beaten up his daughter and threatened to kill her, if the demands of the dowry are not met.

On July 24, 2018, at about 8 pm, the accused allegedly beat his daughter, killed her by putting a noose around her neck, and hanged her.

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