The Bombay High Court has disapproved how allegations are made thick and fast in marital discord cases. Calling it a “tactic”, the court observed that there is a “tendency to rope in as many persons as possible from the family of the husband, irrespective of their involvement in the alleged harassment”, the HC has quashed a cruelty case filed by a woman against six distant relatives and a friend of her estranged husband.
Quashing the case on October 20, a division bench of Justices SS Shinde and NJ Jamadar observed that prosecuting distant relatives and the friend of the husband “would amount to grave injustice”.
The HC was hearing a petition filed by the relatives and friend seeking quashing of the case under various sections of the Indian Penal Code alleging cruelty, intimidation and causing hurt.
The woman alleged that the husband married her despite having an affair. Alleging that he harassed her, she lodged an FIR in October 2019. She even alleged that the relatives, who did not reside in the same home, and the friend threatened her to get Rs 10 lakh from her father. She even alleged that they assaulted her and took away all her jewellery.
Amey Deshpande, advocate for the petitioners, argued that the distant relatives have no role to play in the alleged matrimonial dispute and are accused “with an ulterior motive to wreak vengeance”.
After going through the investigation material, the HC observed that “the aspect of the general tendency of roping in the relatives of the husband… wrenches to the fore”. The court added that while “on the one hand the law must sternly deal with matrimonial cruelty, on the other hand there is an abiding public interest in ensuring that the relatives of the husband, who have no concern with the matrimonial dispute and its aftermath, are not prosecuted for the only reason that they happen to be the relatives…”.
Quashing the case, the HC said that including the petitioners in the case is “actuated by a design” to “harass and humiliate” them. The prosecution against the friend “stands on an even weaker foundation”, added the judges.
The HC observed, “We are thus inclined to hold that in the facts of the case, it would be necessary to quash the FIR and the consequent proceedings arising out of the said FIR qua the petitioners as its continuation would amount to abuse of the judicial process and the quashment would serve the ends of justice.”