Bengaluru, June 16, 2022: In a case where the marriage was annulled and the husband and his family members(petitioners) did not return the amount of Rs 9 lakh claimed as Stridhana, the Karnataka High Court has affirmed that the charge under Section 406 of the IPC alleging criminal breach of trust was rightly framed against the petitioners and it was for the petitioners to come out clean in the trial.
Referring to the judgment of the Apex Court in Pratibha Rani v. Suraj Kumar and Another, the Bench of Justice M. Nagaprasanna opined that articles that form Stridhana cannot be retained by the family or the husband as they are in temporary possession of them and have to be returned.
In this case the respondent-wife(complainant) and the first petitioner-husband were married but later the wife was was forced to leave her matrimonial house and a petition for divorce was filed.In 2009, the respondent raised a demand that Stridhana of Rs.9 lakh which was paid had to be returned along with interest at 9% p.a. beginning from October 11, 1998. When the petitioners failed to pay the said amount, the respondent registered a private complaint for offences punishable under Section 406 of the IPC alleging criminal breach of trust in not returning Rs.9 lakh which according to the complainant was the Stridhana that the petitioners had received in the year 1998.
Charges were framed against the petitioners(husband and his family members). Challenging the said order, a criminal revision petition was filed by the petitioners before this Court which was permitted to be converted as criminal petition and the inherent jurisdiction of this Court under Section 482 of the Cr.P.C was invoked calling in question the said order whereby charges were framed.
Clarifying that the offence to become punishable under Section 406 of the IPC must have its ingredients as obtaining under Section 405 of the IPC which deals with criminal breach of trust, the Bench observed that the amount involved in the lis was Rs.9 lakh which according to the complainant had been paid as Stridhana in the year 1998.
According to the Bench, the undisputed fact was that Stridhana of Rs.9 lakh was paid to the petitioner and his family and that amount which was retained by them would necessarily be a matter for trial against the petitioners for offence punishable under Section 406 of the IPC and it was for the petitioners to come out clean in the trial. Hence, for these reasons, the Criminal Petition was dismissed and termed “meritless”.