Prayagraj: The Allahabad High Court has said matrimonial disputes are often being ”exaggerated manifold” with allegations of dowry-related atrocities and directed that no arrests should be made during a two-month ”cooling period” after the registration of an FIR in such cases.
Justice Rahul Chaturvedi made the observations Monday while hearing separate revision petitions filed by Mukesh Bansal, Manju Bansal and their son Sahib Bansal, whose wife has accused them of subjecting her to atrocities for dowry.
Their discharge plea was rejected by a lower court which they had challenged in the HC, requesting they be discharged from the allegations under section 498A (cruelty for dowry) and others arising out the complaint.
After hearing the arguments, the HC allowed the discharge plea of the woman’s father-in-law and mother-in-law, while it rejected that of the husband asking him to appear before the court concerned for a trial.
The HC , however, observed, ”It is a question of common observation that every matrimonial case is being exaggerated manifold with all the pungent and caustic allegations of dowry-related atrocities involving the husband and all family members.” ”This rampant practice nowadays has adversely affected our social fiber, especially in northern India.” The court also lambasted the language used by the complainant in the FIR.
On October 22, 2018, Shivangi Bansal had lodged an FIR at Pilkhua Police Station of Uttar Pradesh’s Hapur district, her native, against them and their two other family members under multiple sections including 498-A, 307 (attempt to murder), 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 323 (voluntary causing hurt) of the Indian Penal Code.
In her complaint, the woman alleged that her father-in-law Mukesh Bansal sought sexual favours from her while her brother-in-law also tried to ”ravish her physically”.
She has also alleged that her mother-in-law and sister-in-law pressured her for an abortion, and that on making refusal, all the family members ”became physical with her”.
She has also accused her husband of unnatural and forcible sex, according to her lawyer. There was a constant demand of additional dowry, and on refusal she was assaulted brutally by fists and kicks and maltreated and humiliated to its optimum, her counsel has alleged.
The police, after probing the matter submitted a chargesheet only under sections 498A, 323 (voluntary causing hurt), 307 (attempt to murder) of the Indian Penal Code.
The court also issued safeguards against the misuse of section 498-A.
”After lodging of the complaint or the FIR, no action should take place without concluding the Cooling-Period of two months. During this Cooling-Period, the matter may be referred to Family Welfare Committee in each districts,” it said.
The court slammed the language and the vivid description of the alleged atrocities committed on the complainant.
”The FIR is the place where the informant gives the story mobilizing the State Machinery engaging in the commission of cognizable offence. It is not soft porn literature where the graphical description should be made,” the court observed.
”The interesting feature is that she has been unable to substantiate those allegations even at the time of investigation and these allegations were found false and the sections related to it were dropped. ”The Court records its strongest exception to such type of language used by the informant. The language of the FIR should be decent one and no amount of atrocities faced by the informant, would justify her to use such type of caustic expressions.
”The traditional fragrance of our age-old institution of marriage would completely evaporate over a period of time if such gross and unmindful misuse of section 498-A IPC would keep on pasted rampantly,” the court observed.
On the woman’s allegations against her in-laws, the court observed, ”In our traditional Indian family, where they are residing in a joint family with unmarried son, it is highly improbable and difficult to digest the allegations of demanding sexual favours from her daughter-in-law by father-in-law or brother-in-law.” Elaborating on the ‘cooling-period’, the HC said during this time the matter would be immediately referred to the Family Welfare Committee (FWC) in each district.
”Only those cases would be transmitted to FWC in Section 498-A IPC (cruelty for dowry) and other sections of IPC in which the imprisonment is less than 10 years but there is no physical injury caused to the woman,” it said.