Mansimran Kaur 

New Delhi, April 12, 2022: While determining the correctness of a judgment of the Rajasthan High Court  dismissing the petition under Section 482 of the Code Criminal Procedure, 1973, the Supreme Court has observed that Section 366 of the Indian Penal Code would come into play only where there is a forceful compulsion of marriage, by kidnapping or by inducing a woman.

A Two-Judge Bench comprising Justice S. Abdul Nazeer and Justice Vikram Nath quashed the impugned judgment of the High Court as the Top Court was of the view that conducting a trial against the appellant would certainly not meet the ends of justice. 

Brief facts of the case were that one Prahlad Dan lodged a complaint of abduction of her minor daughter at Police Station, Phulera District Jaipur under Sections 363 and 366 of the Indian Penal Code. However,  continuous efforts   in search of the abducted daughter and the accused were did not result in anything something constructive. Pursuant to the same, the Investigating Officer recorded the statement of the complainant and others, submitted a chargesheet against the first appellant-accused under the aforesaid sections and requested the Court to initiate proceedings under Section 299 of CrPC

The investigating officer also submitted a charge sheet against the father of the appellant-accused, namely, Banna Lal under Sections 363, 366 and 120B IPC. On the basis of the said chargesheet Banna Lal was put to trial and a regular criminal  case was registered. 

The Additional District and Sessions Judge, Sambhar Lake, District Jaipur by a judgment and order dated March 9, 2011 came to the conclusion that the charges could not be proved against the accused Banna Lal of being involved in any manner in the alleged abduction of the daughter of the complainant and rather he himself made efforts for searching his son and the abductee. Accordingly, Banna Lal was acquitted of all the charges.

The Division Bench noted that in the year 2020, the appellant along with the abductee Seema Parewa instituted a petition under Section 482 CrPC before the Rajasthan High Court praying for quashing of FIR and all proceedings arising therefrom. In the said petition it was stated that the appellant and the abductee were involved in a love affair and the father of the abductee was against the same,which compelled them both to drift away from their families in 2005. It was also stated that the appellant and the abductee both got married on December 25, 2006. It was stated that a report was submitted under Section 173(2) CrPC and a request for invoking Section 299 CrPC was made by the investigating officer. This matter is still sub- judice before the Trial Court against the appellant and coercive steps were taken. 

It was further noticed by the Top Court  that almost 15 years had passed since the  union of the appellant and the abductee and they were also blessed with a baby boy on February 27, 2014. It was also made vivid in the petition that the abductee was never harmed and she was not abducted, indeed she left her parental home willingly with no force of any sort. It was also stated that she was compelled to leave the parental home, as her father was creating disruptions and was trying to vitiate their bond. It was further stated that the abductee was 17 years of age when she left her parental home. 

The High Court after taking into consideration all the materials on record was of the view that the abductee was a minor at the time she left her parental home and assumed that the appellant manipulated the abductee and coaxed her to participate in the same. In the opinion of the Court the appellant had a motive of escaping the complexities of law. Thus, the Court held that the appellant persuaded the minor daughter of the complainant and alleged him of kidnapping the daughter of the complainant.

Moreover, the abductee woman had stated earlier that she was not persuaded by the first appellant to leave her parental home. She made it clear that neither she was forced nor induced.  It was also stated that Section 366 of IPC will come into the picture when there is forceful  compulsion of a marriage  by kidnapping or inducing a woman, however in the present case the same was found missing. Thus, it was stated that the trial should not be conducted at any cost, as the same will do no good to the appellants, who have entered into a union of marriage by their own will. 

The Division Bench asserted, “Kidnapping would necessarily involve enticing or taking away any minor under eighteen years of age if a female for the offence under Section 363 IPC. In the present case, the abductee had clearly stated that she was neither taken away nor induced and that she had left her home of her own free will. Section 366 IPC would come into play only where there is a forceful compulsion of marriage, by kidnapping or by inducing a woman.”

The Top Court after considering the facts of the case observed that in order to restore the trust upon the Judicial system, the FIR and the consequential proceedings in the present case should be quashed. The impugned order of the Rajasthan High Court dated December 9, 2020 was set aside and the entire proceedings arising from the registered FIR were quashed and the appeal was allowed.

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