On 10th February, 2020, the Division Bench of Supreme Court comprising Justice Navin Sinha and Justice Krishna Murari, held in Arun Singh and others vs. State of U.P that the offences relating to the demand of dowry are offences against the society and are not of private nature. The court also ruled that in such cases settlement arrived between the parties cannot be a valid ground to quash the criminal proceedings invoking section 482 of Cr.P.C. The said case is a criminal appeal against the order of the High Court that refused to quash the criminal proceedings against the appellants herein.
Facts of the case:
The complainant lodged F.I.R. with the police station under section 493 of IPC and Section 3 and 4 of Dowry Prohibition Act. The complainant alleged that he had approached the appellants herein with the proposal of marriage of his daughter Jyoti. On 30th June, 2013, the appellants along with their family members visited the complainant’s house and the marriage was finalized. On 21.07.2013, the engagement ceremony was performed wherein the date of marriage was fixed on 19.11.2013. Thereafter the bridegroom visited the house of bride frequently and took her out on several occasions. On 16/08/2013, the bridegroom induced the bride to establish physical relationship with him stating that being only the ‘feras’ ceremony to be completed in less than 3 months for which the bride fell for. Subsequently the attitude of the bridegroom and his family members changed tremendously and started demanding Rs. 5 lakhs as dowry. Initially a complaint with this regard was filed before the Mahila Thana wherein both the parties were summoned and settlement was arrived between the parties. On one fine day, the complainant came to be aware that the marriage of the bridegroom was settled with another girl with handsome dowry. Hence this FIR was filed by the complainant.
The said complaint was duly investigated by the concerned police station and the charge sheet was filed against the appellants herein under section 493 of IPC and Section 3 & 4 of Dowry Prohibition Act. The appellants approached the High Court challenging the charge sheet under section 482 of IPC. The appellants contended before the High Court that the complainant had falsely fabricated the criminal against them so as to avoid sharing the marriage expenses. The High Court observed that there are no justifiable grounds to quash the charge sheet invoking section 482 of Cr.P.C and duly dismissed the petition.
Aggrieved by the said order of the High Court, the appellants herein have filed the present appeal. The counsel for the appellant contended that the complainant had lodged the FIR nearly 10 months after the settlement has been arrived between the parties before the Mahila Thana. Whereas the learned counsel for the complainant argued that the offence with which the accused are charged with are non-compoundable offences and hence there are no chances that the settlement could have arrived between the parties.
1. The court after hearing both the sides considered the issue whether settlement arrived between the parties could be a ground to quash criminal proceedings under section 482 of Cr.P.C and held that the offences with which the accused are charged are offences are against the society and not of private nature. Hence, Continuance of trial is appropriate in the interest of the public.
2. On observing whether offence under section 493 of IPC is made out, the court observed that in order to constitute offence under the said section, the accused must have practiced deceit and made her believe that she is lawfully wedded to him and establish physical relationship.
3. The court with respect to the offence under section 493 of IPC, held that no prima facie cases has been made out under section 493 of IPC as per the allegations of FIR
4. With regard to the offence under section 3 and 4 of Dowry Prohibition Act, the court held that to constitute offence under the above section, there must be a direct or indirect demand for the same either from parents or relative members and the same has been prima facie made out as per the statement given under FIR.
The Supreme Court while quashing the judgment of High court only with respect to the offence under section 493 of IPC observed that the High court has failed to appreciate the aspects of the offence under the said Section of IPC. However the court held the judgment of the High Court as sustainable with respect to the offence under section 3 & 4 of Dowry Prohibition Act and dismissed the appeal.
Edited by J. Madonna Jephi
Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje
Criminal Appeal no. 250 of 2020, The Supreme Court of India, judgment dated 10th February, 2020.