Judicial Updates -
C. KARNATAKA HIGH COURT
WIFE'S COMPLAINT U/S 498A IPC CAN'T BE QUASHED MERELY BECAUSE IT WAS FILED AFTER THE HUSBAND DEMANDS DIVORCE.
In the case of Pramod R S v. State of Karnataka [Criminal Petition No. 1511 of 2023], the Complainant, wife of the Petitioner, left her matrimonial house after alleged torture. Thereafter, the husband sent her a legal notice seeking an amicable settlement and resolution of the dispute for the purpose of dissolution of marriage. Later, the Complainant registered a complaint against the Petitioner under Sections 498A, 307 and 506 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (“IPC”) and Sections 3 and 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 (“1961 Act”).
The Petitioner filed the present petition under section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 (“CrPC”) before the Karnataka High Court, for quashing of the FIR.
The High Court observed that when allegations of torture are made over an extended period, the act of the husband issuing a divorce notice simultaneously or shortly before the complaint does not diminish the significance of the complaint itself. “It would require investigation. It would be altogether a different circumstance if the complaint does not even make out ingredients of the offence so alleged or does not lay down the necessary foundation for alleging the offences in a given case”, the Court noted.
Furthermore, the High Court agreed that there are many cases where members of the family are necessarily dragged into the web of crime by the wife while registering the complaint invoking Section 498A of the IPC. However, the allegations have to be considered on a case-to-case basis. It disagreed with the coordinate bench judgment, which held that FIR should be quashed on the sole ground that the crime is registered after receipt of a notice seeking dissolution of marriage. It stated that “It defeats the very object of Section 498A of the IPC, or even complaints made under Section 12 of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005.”
The High Court, while dismissing the criminal petition, observed that “There cannot be a declaration of law as is contended by the learned counsel for the petitioner that once the divorce notice is sent by the husband, the complaint registered by the wife thereafter loses its significance. If this contention is accepted, it would have a chilling effect on all the complaints. Therefore, this submission is noted only to be rejected, as it is fundamentally flawed.”