By Adv. R. S. Agrawal
WHILE allowing the two writ petitions –one filed by the husband, Nikheelchandra Anil Zode, the Provident Fund Commissioner at Pune against his wife Dr Rita Nikheelchandra Zode alias Rita Sheshrao Kulkarni, a Judicial Officer at Tasgaon Court in Sangli District and the other petition filed by mother, brother and sister of Dr Anil Zode against Dr (Mrs) Zode, Justice Atul S. Chandurkar and Justice Jitendra Jain, at the Bombay High Court, in the judgement of the case delivered on February 9, 2024, have held that “there does not appear to be any case for continuing the investigation pursuant to the FIR under consideration as the same would amount to an abuse of the process of law.
In the HC’s view, the analysis of the factors involved by it squarely fall within the guidelines laid down in the case - State of Haryana & others v. Bhajan Lal & others – AIR 1992 SC 604 for this Court to exercise its jurisdiction under section 482 of the CrPC, especially clauses (1) and (3). There does not appear to be case for continuing the investigation as the same would amount to an abuse of the process of law.
The petitioner and respondent-2 are husband and wife, who are married since February, 2018.
They met each other through a matrimonial site,” Jeevansathi. It has been the allegation by the respondent-wife that after marriage, the petitioner refused to have a conjugal relationship with her. There are various matrimonial disputes between the petitioner, his family and respondent-wife. The matrimonial dispute seeking decree of divorce was filed by the petitioner against wife.
Under section 498A of the IPC, if the husband or relatives of the husband of a woman subjects such woman to cruelty the offence thereunder is attracted. Under explanation to section 498A any willful conduct of such nature that is likely to drive the woman to commit suicide or to cause grave injury or danger to life, limb or health of the woman or her harassment with a view to coerce her or any person related to her to meet any unlawful demand for any property or valuable security or on account of failure by her or any person related to her to meet such demand amounts to cruelty.
Perusal of the FIR indicates that after the petitioner and the respondent-2 were married on February 24, 2018, the wife has stated therein, that initially she was transferred to Belapur, Vashi after which she started residing also with her in-laws at Juhu.
It has been further stated that the petitioner was not in position to maintain physical relation with her and she advised him to have some medical advice in that regard. There is reference to certain differences between the petitioner and the respondent-wife during this period after which in April, 2023 she received a legal, notice that was issued by the petitioner seeking divorce. According to her, this led to thought of committing suicide in her mind. Thereafter, reference has been made to the incident of June 7, 2023.
The HC has pointed out that on
perusal of the entire FIR, it is seen that that there is no demand made of any property or valuable security either from the respondent-wife or any of her family members.
Insofar as Explanation (a) to section 498A is concerned, the HC has found that in the FIR, the respondent –wife has referred to her differences with the petitioner and the statements made by her in-laws for leaving her job. Receipt of legal notice seeking divorce as issued by the petitioner has also been referred to. In the HC’s view, on complete reading of the FIR, allegations that satisfy the ingredients of section 498A IPC are not found.
Differences between the petitioner and the respondent-wife as well as her in-laws in the form of bickering would not constitute an offence under section 498A IPC. In view of this, the HC’s finding is that the said provisions are not attracted in the present case.
The provisions of section 506 are attracted, if the acts alleged fall within the meaning of the term “criminal intimidation” as defined in section 503 of the IPC. The threat which is contemplated in section 503 is a threat with injury to a person, reputation or property with the intention to cause the other person to do any act which he is not legally bound to do or omit to do an act, which the other person is legally entitled to do. In this case, as recorded and stated in the FIR, there is no act, which would result in injury to the respondent-wife. The verbal threat to sign the divorce papers would certainly not be a case falling under section 503 of the IPC. Therefore, on this account, the Court could not understand as to how section N506 is sought to be invoked in the facts of the present case.
Additionally, the HC has added that the wife herself is a judicial officer. The incident, which has been referred to and stated in the FIR is of June 7, 2023, whereas, complaint is made and FIR was lodged on July 9, 2023, which is almost after a period of one month.
The incident of June 7, 2023 has been stated by invoking section 353 of the IPC. It is stated that due to seriousness of the matter and as the incident had occurred at the workplace, the wife avoided to give the report.
This aspect when considered cumulatively with all other aspects goes to show that the FIR has been lodged only as a counterblast to the matrimonial dispute between the petitioner and the respondent-wife. It is also important to note that the wife in her FIR itself has recorded in the year 2022-23, she along with petitioner had spent time with the friends of the petitioner and celebrated birthdays of both of them.
The HC has relied upon two judgements in cases- Ramesh Shitaldas Dalal & Another v. State of Maharashtra –(2024)( 1) ABR (Cr.)29 and Smt. Vrushali Jayesh Kore v. State of Maharashtra & Another –(2023)(1)ABR (Cr.) 514 cited in support of the petitioner’s case.
According to the Bombay HC, this is a perfect case for the Court to exercise its inherent jurisdiction to prevent abuse of the process of the Court so as to secure the ends of justice. In view of this the High Court quashed the impugned FIR registered at the Tasgaon Police Station against the petitioner.