HYDERABAD: The Hyderabad High Court has ruled that the court cannot allow prosecution to be continued against a non-participant accused in an offence. Courts need to make circumspective probe of those allegations and allow prosecution only against those who are the real culprits, it said.
Justice U Durga Prasad Rao issued the order while allowing a criminal petition filed by a Muslim woman (A4) of Nellore district who sought dismissal of proceedings in a case filed before Additional Judicial Magistrate of First Class, Kavali.
As per the case facts, the Kavali police registered a crime under Section 498-A of the IPC based on a complaint by the wife of accused number one (A1). The police filed chargesheet against A1 to A5 — A1 is the husband of the de facto complainant, A2 and A3 are his parents and A4 is the married sister of A1. As far as A5 is concerned, A1 allegedly had an illegal relationship with her and this is one of the main reasons for bickering between the complainant and A1.
The counsel, appearing for the petitioner (A4), vehemently argued that except a general and sweeping allegation against A4 — that on her abetment, A1 demanded additional dowry and gold from the parents of the complainant, no specific overt acts with detailed particulars are made out in the chargesheet.
While denying those allegations, the counsel submitted that she was a married sister of A1 who is living separately and in such an instance, it would be hard to believe that she would join hands with her parents to harass the de facto complainant. He urged the court to allow the petition. Relying upon the decision in Preeti Gupta and another vs State of Jharkhand and another, the counsel submitted that the tendency to rope in as many relatives of the husband of the complainant as possible is more in 498-A cases and hence, the court needs to carefully scrutinise the allegations and should only then, come to a definite conclusion.
After hearing the case and going through the complaint allegations and chargesheet contents, Justice Durga Prasad Rao pointed out that except for general and sweeping allegations, that she (A4) along with her parents used to incite A1 to torture and demand more dowry from the complainant, no specific overt acts are attributed against her to appeal to the conscience of the court to hold that the petitioner (A4) is also a partner in the unlawful harassment meted out to the complainant. When such is the case, the court shall not allow prosecution to be continued against a non-participant accused in an offence, the judge observed.
The judge referred to the observations made by the Supreme Court in Preeti Gupta’s case wherein it said that “the ultimate object of justice is to find out the truth and punish the guilty and protect the innocent. To find out the truth is a Herculean task in a majority of these complaints. The tendency of implicating husband and all his immediate relations is also not uncommon. At times, even after the conclusion of criminal trial, it is difficult to ascertain the real truth. The courts have to be extremely careful and cautious in dealing with these complaints and must take pragmatic realities into consideration while dealing with matrimonial cases.
The allegations of harassment of husband’s close relations who had been living in different cities and never visited or rarely visited the place where the complainant resided would have an entirely different complexion. The allegations of the complaint are required to be scrutinised with great care and circumspection.” In the light of the above observations by the Apex Court, the judge said, it would appear that the tendency to rope in as many relations of the husband, even though some of them by virtue of their marriage or employment, are away from the marital home of the complainant, has been unfortunately increasing in the complaint petitions filed under Section 498-A IPC.
“Hence, the courts need to make circumspective probe of those allegations and allow prosecution only against those who are the real culprits. In the instant case, as already observed, no tenable allegations much-less overt acts are evident against petitioner/A4 and hence, her prayer needs consideration,” the judge observed.
While allowing the criminal petition, the judge made it clear that the proceedings pending before the Additional Judicial Magistrate of First Class, Kavali are quashed only in so far as petitioner/A4 is concerned.