By LE Desk
Mumbai, April 2: The Bombay High Court has quashed an FIR accusing the son of a former Bombay High Court judge of cruelty against his sister-in-law.
The bench of Justice SS Shinde and Justice Manish Pitale noted that the former Judge’s son, the brother-in-law of the woman, was named towards the end of the FIR with “omnibus and non-specific allegations”, along with the brother and their mother.
He was named in the FIR in the context of general statements of the complainant.
The Court said such generalised allegations against the son did not disclose any ingredients of an offence under Section 498A of the IPC (husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty), India Today reported.
According to the prosecution’s case, the woman and her husband went to live at her father’s house with their son in Mahabaleshwar before the pandemic broke out.
Once the lockdown was imposed, they were stuck and had to stay there for nearly 4 months.
During this time, the couple’s son informed the husband that he was sexually abused by the father of the woman (the son’s maternal grandfather). When the husband and his mother went to the police station to lodge a complaint against the woman’s father, the woman in turn went to file a complaint against her husband and his mother.
The trials to amicably settle the dispute between the families also failed and an FIR was registered against the maternal grandfather under the sections of IPC and the Protection against Child Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.
Subsequently, the woman in her FIR accused her husband and his mother of committing offences under Section 498A (cruelty), 344 (wrongful confinement), 406 (criminal breach of trust), 504, 506 (criminal intimidation) of IPC.
Senior Advocates IM Chagla and Darius Khambata appearing for the former Judge’s son submitted that the FIR ought to be quashed because the genesis of the dispute was between the woman and her husband. The alleged incident concerning the father of the woman and their son had triggered the dispute and that the former judge’s son had nothing to do with it.
Advocate Satish Maneshinde appearing for the woman opposed the plea stating the offences were justifiably against all the accused, including the former Judge’s son. He submitted that the contents of the FIR were sufficient to trigger an investigation which would, in turn, bring out sufficient material against the petitioner. He also argued that the former Judge’s son, his brother and the entire family was using their knowledge of law and familiarity with the court system to pressurise the woman into submission, which was a factor for the court to consider.
Having heard both parties, the Court turned to the police to find out the investigation carried out so far and noted that the progress was very slow. From the evidence placed before, the Court deduced that there ought to have been specific allegations and descriptions of events in the complaint at least to specifically proceed against the relatives of the husband.
Referring to the written complaint of the woman, the Court found there were no specific allegations against the brother-in-law. They also found that the allegations in the FIR did not even prima facie show the ingredients of the alleged offences against the former Judge’s son. In fact, some allegations of keeping an eye on her or restricting her from meeting her relatives were conspicuously absent and came across as an afterthought.
“In such cases, there is a pronounced tendency on the part of the complainant to rope in relatives of the husband due to the anger generated in the complainant against her husband, in the backdrop of acrimony and bitterness in their matrimonial life.” the court observed.
Holding so, the court proceeded to quash the FIR, clarifying that the observations in the order were to be confined to the petitioner and not in respect of the accused.