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Tara Chand Garg Vs. Geetu Aggarwal - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtPunjab and Haryana High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCriminal Misc. No. 29401-M of 1997
Judge
Reported inI(1999)DMC545
ActsIndian Penal Code (IPC), 1860 - Sections 34, 406 and 498A; ;Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) , 1973 - Sections 198 and 198A
AppellantTara Chand Garg
RespondentGeetu Aggarwal
Appellant Advocate D.S. Bali, Sr., Adv. and; Kapil Aggarwal, Adv.
Respondent Advocate Baldev Singh, Adv.
Cases ReferredIn State of Haryana & Ors. v. Bhajan Lal
Excerpt:
.....could not be held to be improbable or unreliable at this stage. section 198-a, criminal procedure code clearly empowers the father of respondent geetu aggarwal to file the complaint under section 498-a, indian penal code and there is no bar for filing a complaint in respect of the offence punishable under section 406, indian penal code......field lane, potomac, md 20854, usa). the impugned complaint was filed under section 406/34, indian penal code in the court of judicial magistrate, 1st class, chandigarh. the petitioners also seek the quashing of the impugned order of summoning (copy annexure p2).2. the petitioner nos. 1 and 2, i.e. tara chand garg and his wife, mrs. lakshmi devi garg, are parents-in-law of the complainant.3. as per the averments made in the complaint, mrs. geetu aggarwal was married with accused no. 1, lokesh garg son of tara chand garg on 1.12.1991 at chandigarh. a sum of rs. 5.50 lacs was spent in the marriage including the expenses of shagun and ring ceremony. it is alleged that on demand of the accused persons, the parents of the complainant gave huge dowry, which consisted of ornaments (gold and.....
Judgment:

K.K. Srivastava, J.

1. By means of this petition filed under Section 482, Criminal Procedure Code, the petitioners seek the quashing of the complaint (copy Annexure P1), filed by Mrs. Geetu Aggarwal, through her General Power of Attorney, Shri Faquir Chand Aggarwal, resident of House No. 107, Sector 21-A, Chandigarh. The complainant/respondent, Mrs. Geetu Aggarwal, is residing in USA at the address mentioned in the complaint (i.e. C/O Mr. Ram T. Bitta, 12006, Weather field Lane, Potomac, MD 20854, USA). The impugned complaint was filed under Section 406/34, Indian Penal Code in the Court of Judicial Magistrate, 1st Class, Chandigarh. The petitioners also seek the quashing of the impugned order of summoning (copy Annexure P2).

2. The petitioner Nos. 1 and 2, i.e. Tara Chand Garg and his wife, Mrs. Lakshmi Devi Garg, are parents-in-law of the complainant.

3. As per the averments made in the complaint, Mrs. Geetu Aggarwal was married with accused No. 1, Lokesh Garg son of Tara Chand Garg on 1.12.1991 at Chandigarh. A sum of Rs. 5.50 lacs was spent in the marriage including the expenses of shagun and ring ceremony. It is alleged that on demand of the accused persons, the parents of the complainant gave huge dowry, which consisted of ornaments (gold and diamonds), details of which are reproduced below for proper appreciation :

(i) One diamond set Rs. 30,000/-(ii) Two gold sets Rs. 60,000/-(iii) 21 gold bangles Rs. 1,30,000/-(iv) 1 kara-gold Rs. 10,000/-(v) 42 sarees and 7 suits Rs. 1,00,000/-(vi) 4 woollen suits Rs. 16,000/-(vii) Cash Rs. 1,51,000/-

4. It is alleged that on the next day of the marriage, i.e. on 2.12.1991, accused No. 3, Mrs. Lakshmi Devi Garg, mother-in-law of the complainant with the help of her son-Lokesh Garg, husband of the complainant, opened the locks of the sky bags containing the aforesaid ornaments and sarees etc. of the complainant. Some of the costly sarees were given to the relations of the husband of the complainant, against her wishes. It is further alleged that after a couple of days of the marriage, the accused persons made the complainant to hand over the gold and diamond jewellery which she was wearing, to her mother-in-law on the pretext of security and she Was asked to bring light sets of gold ornaments from her parents for daily use. Thereafter the accused left for Delhi and after staying there for some days, the parents-in-law of the complainant went to Guwahati and the husband of the complainant, i.e. accused No. 1, went to USA. Her parents-in-law took all the gold and diamond jewellery with them to Guwahati, where accused No. 1, Lokesh Garg was employed during those days. The complainant lived with her parents at Chandigarh, as she was studying at that time. It was further alleged that Lokesh Garg, husband of the complainant, filed a petition against her on 1.10.1992 under Section 11 of the Hindu Marriage Act through his attorney Tara Chand Garg/ accused No. 2 and got the said petition dismissed as withdrawn on the ground that the parties had compromised the dispute. The complainant alleged that her in-laws demanded a sum of Rs. five lacs from her parents on the plea of expenses to be incurred in USA on the studies of the complainant, as they were not satisfied with the dowry already given. It is mentioned that a sum of Rs. two lacs was paid by her parents to her mother-in-law in the first week of November, 1992. The comply ....it left for USA alongwith her husband on 9.11.1992 and they returned to India in the last week of August, 1993. In the meantime, husband of the complainant filed another petition seeking divorce in a superior Court of Chatham Country, USA, by concealing the facts and obtained a decree of divorce on 12.1.1995. The complainant is residing in USA since 13.12.1994. It is further alleged that the complainant wrote letters to her parents-in-law requesting them to return the dowry articles to her father. She also made a request to her husband to return the said dowry articles. A rare painting of the complainant is also alleged to be with accused No. 4/Rakesh Garg, brother of her husband, which was also not returned.

5. The learned Judicial Magistrate vide order dated 17.4.1997 summoned the petitioners and Lokesh Garg as accused. The impugned complaint is sought to be quashed on the grounds that it is highly improbable that the dowry items would be given to the parents and their son Lokesh Garg. It is contended that the impugned complaint has not been properly instituted as the complainant has herself not filed the same and has filed through her father/General Power of Attorney. It has also been alleged that petitioner No. 3 has been falsely roped in, as the rare painting of the complainant cannot be termed as a dowry item.

6. Notice of motion was issued to the respondent, who filed reply controverting the averments made in the petition.

7. I have heard the learned Counsel for the petitioners and learned Counsel for the respondent. I have also perused the record carefully.

8. The averments made in the impugned complaint clearly allege the involvement of petitioner Nos. 1 and 2, i.e. Tara Chand Garg and Smt. Lakshmi Devi Garg. There are specific averments regarding these two petitioners being entrusted with the dowry articles, including the valuable saree and ornaments. These petitioners seek quashing of the impugned complaint on appreciation of facts by contending that since the respondent, Mrs. Geetu Aggarwal herself operated her locker, it would be extremely difficult to believe that the ornaments belonging to her were allowed to remain in the custody of petitioner Nos. 1 and 2. Apart from this, it has been contended that the complainant is residing separately from her husband since 26.8.1994. Mr. D.S. Bali, learned Senior Advocate appearing for the petitioners contended that in these circumstances, it would be abundantly clear that there was no entrustment of the dowry items, as alleged in the complaint, with the parents-in-law, i.e. petitioner Nos. 1 and 2.

9. Mr. Baldev Singh, learned Counsel for the respondent, on the other hand, submitted that the impugned complaint made a categorical averment regarding the entrustment of valuables, Comprising of ornaments and sarees with the petitioners, who are none else but the parents-in-law of Mrs. Geetu Aggarwal and these averments could not be held to be improbable or unreliable at this stage. These facts are to be gone into at the trial and the probabilities, credibility of the evidence led by either side has to be considered by the Trial Court. Mr. Baldev Singh further submitted that as per the law settled by the Apex Court in the case of State of Haryana & Ors. v. Ch. Bhajan Lal & Ors., 1991 (1) RCR 383, the averments made in the FIR/complaint are to be taken as genuine at this stage and then it is to be found out if such averments did not make out a prima facie case.

10. The Hon'ble Supreme Court has recently in the case of M/s. Pepsi Food Limited v. Special Judicial Magistrate, 1997 (4) Recent Criminal Reports 761=IV (1997) CCR 108 (SC)=VI (1998) SLT 102 (SC), has laid down the parameters for the High Court to examine the cases of the quashment of the FIR or complaint and held as under:

'It is settled that the High Court can exercise its power of judicial review in criminal matters. In State of Haryana & Ors. v. Bhajan Lal & Ors., 1991 (1) RCR (Crl.) 383-1992 Supp. (1) SCC 335, this Court examined the extraordinary power under Article 226 of the Constitution and also the inherent powers under Section 482 of the Code which it said could be exercised by the High Court either to prevent abuse of the process of any Court or otherwise to secure the ends of justice. While laying down certain guidelines where the Court will exercise jurisdiction under these provisions, it was also stated that these guidelines could not be inflexible or laying rigid formulae to be followed by the Courts. Exercise of such power would depend upon the facts and circumstances of each case but with the sole purpose to prevent abuse of the process of any Court or otherwise to secure the ends of justice. One of such guidelines is where the allegations made in the First Information Report or the complaint, even if they are taken at their face value and accepted in their entirety do not prima facie constitute any offence or make out a case against the accused. Under Article 227 the power of superintendence by the High Court is not only of administrative nature, but is also of judicial nature. This Article confers vast powers on the High Court to prevent the abuse of the process of law by the inferior Courts and to see that the stream of administration of justice remains clean and pure. The power conferred on the High Court under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution and under Section 482 of the Code have no limits but more the power more due care and caution is to be exercised invoking these powers. When the exercise of powers could be under Article 227 or Section 482 of the Code it may not always be necessary to invoke the provisions of Article 226.'

11. After carefully considering the averments made in the complaint and appreciating the rival contentions made by learned Counsel for the parties to this case,. I am of the considered opinion that the averments made in the impugned complaint insofar as petitioner Nos. 1 and 2 are concerned, are clear and categorical and if the genuineness of these averments is believed, then there is prima facie allegation of entrustment of the dowry items with petitioner Nos. 1 and 2 and as such a prima facie case punishable under Section 406, Indian Penal Code qua both of them has been shown in the impugned Complaint. However, the petitioner Nos. 1 and 2 shall be at liberty to raise the various pleas, which have been taken in this petition, before the Trial Court at the appropriate stage.

12. Mr. D.S. Bali, learned Senior Advocate for the petitioners urged that the complaint filed by the father of the respondent, Mrs. Geetu Aggarwal was not maintainable as he was not a competent person to file the complaint. Mr. Bali further pointed out that Mrs. Geetu Aggarwal was, in fact, residing in USA at the time when the present complaint was filed by her father, as her General Power of Attorney.

13. Section 198-A, Criminal Procedure Code deals with prosecution of offences under Section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code and it lays down that no Court shall take cognizance of an offence punishable under Section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860) except upon a police report of facts which constitute such offence or upon a complaint made by the person aggrieved by the offence or by her father, mother, brother/sister or by her father's or mother's brother or sister or, with the leave of the Court by any other person related to her by blood, marriage or adoption. Section 198-A was inserted in the Criminal Procedure Code by the Amending Act 46 of 1983 when the offence under Section 498-A, Indian Penal Code was added in the Indian Penal Code.

14. Section 198, Criminal Procedure Code deals with the prosecution for offences against marriage and lays down, inter alia, that no Court shall take cognizance of an offence punishable under Chapter XX of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860) except upon a complaint made by some person aggrieved by the offence.

15. Chapter XX refers to the offences relating to marriage and comprises of Sections 493, 494, 495, 496, 497 and 498 of the Indian Penal Code. Section 199, Criminal Procedure Code provides for prosecution for defamation, which relate to the offences under Chapter XX comprising of Sections 499 and 502, Indian Penal Code.

16. It will appear from the above said provisions that there is no restriction imposed for filing a complaint for the offence punishable under Section 406, Indian Penal Code. The impugned complaint was filed under Sections 406/498-A read with Section 34, Indian Penal Code. Section 198-A, Criminal Procedure Code clearly empowers the father of respondent Geetu Aggarwal to file the complaint under Section 498-A, Indian Penal Code and there is no bar for filing a complaint in respect of the offence punishable under Section 406, Indian Penal Code. Thus, there is no merit in this contention of learned Counsel for the petitioners. The impugned complaint filed by father of Mrs. Geetu Aggarwal, as General Power of Attorney is maintainable.

17. So far as the case of petitioner No. 3, Rakesh Garg is concerned, the only allegation against him is about keeping of a Kara painting of respondent Mrs. Geetu Aggarwal. Prima facie, this painting cannot be held to be a dowry article and it cannot be held even after accepting the genuineness of the averments made in the complaint that the said painting, as dowry article, was entrusted with petitioner No. 3 and that he is prima facie guilty of the offence punishable under Section 406, Indian Penal Code. The involvement of petitioner No. 3 does not appear to be valid and proper. The continuance of the proceedings qua him amounts to abuse of the process of the Court. The impugned complaint; order of summoning and the consequential proceedings qua petitioner No. 3 deserve to be quashed.

18. Resultantly, the petition is partly allowed. The impugned complaint, order of summoning and the consequential proceedings flowing therefrom are quashed qua petitioner No. 3-Rakesh Garg. The petition qua pegtitioner Nos. 1 and 2, namely, Tara Chand Garg and Mrs. Lakshmi Devi Garg, has no merit and is dismissed.


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