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Madan Lal and ors. Vs. Amar Nath - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtDelhi High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCriminal Miscellaneous (Main) Appeal No. 6 of 1984
Judge
Reported in1984(2)Crimes584; 26(1984)DLT480; 1984(7)DRJ317; 1984RLR697
ActsDowry Prohibition Act, 1961 - Sections 2 and 3
AppellantMadan Lal and ors.
RespondentAmar Nath
Advocates: K.K. Sud,; Rajiv Chauhan and; Jagdish Singh, Advs
Excerpt:
.....after the solemnization of the marriage, they started making demands i had tried to fulfill the demands of the accused according to my means yet they were not satisfied. was further urged on behalf of the petitioners that, on the averments in the complaint, the various causes of action, if any, arose in jullundur, where the demands were allegedly made from time to time and were said to have been satisfied. on the other hand, it was urged on behalf of the complainant that the allegations, inter alia, in para (4) of the complaint contain a specific allegation of demand of dowry at the time of marriage besides a similar demand on other occasions and that this averment in the complaint clearly made out a case of an offence under section 3 of the act, irrespective of the manner in which..........greedy persons and since inception of relationship either of them used to make in certain manners dowry demands absolutely undue'. it was further alleged in para (4) that 'at the time of marriage and on other occasions before marriage sh. babu lal accused demanded one thing or the other and undue cash and to save his position in his. social life, he did expenses beyond his capacity in the marriage and paid cash, articles, ornaments, etc. etc. supply to satisfy his desires'. the complaint proceeds to make further allegations of undue demands from the wife from time to time on different occasions at jullundur and it is claimed that the husband has been able 'to collect about rs. 20000.00 from the complainant by demanding dowry from complainant absolutely undue.' the learned additional.....
Judgment:

H.L. Anand, J.

(1) This petition under Section 482 of the Code by the husband, his parents, brother and sister-in-law, is directed against proceedings in a complaint filed by the wife's father against them for offences ''under Section 2 and 3' of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 and the order of the learned Additional Sessions Judge reversing in revision the order of the trial court by which the trial court dismissed the complaint on the ground that the 'offences' alleged were not committed at Delhi, and had, if at all, been committed at Jullundur, and the Delhi Court, thereforee, had no jurisdiction to entertain or tiy the complaint.

(2) Kamlesh and Madan Lal, the first petitioner herein, were married at Delhi. Their marital life had apparently been unhappy, either because of persistent demand for gifts from the wife's in-laws, as alleged by one party, or because of incompatibility and other reasons, as is the contention of the other. Be that as it may, on or before October 1, 1982, Madan Lal, the husband filed proceedings in a Jullundur Court, which is the situs of the matrimonial home, for a decree of divorce, inter alia, on the ground of cruelty, based on allegations that the wife withdrew from the matrimonial home without reasonable cause and carried with her the entire jewellery and costly clothes and had been committing 'grave acts of cruelty' during the period she lived with the husband. It was further alleged that with a view to forestall any action of restoration of jewellery, which she had carried, she set up a 'false story of a theft' in the house of her father and lodged a false first information report at a local police station in Delhi based on a fake theft. It is not clear as to when the wife was served with the process of the Jullundur Court. The complaint, out of which the present proceedings have arisen, was, however, filed by the wife's father Amar Nath, in the Court of Addl. Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Delhi, on of about October 30, 1982. Besides the husband, his parents, his brother and the brother's wife were imp leaded as accused persons. According to the complaint, which is rather clumsily drawn, 'all the five accused persons are greedy persons and since inception of relationship either of them used to make in certain manners dowry demands absolutely undue'. It was further alleged in para (4) that 'at the time of marriage and on other occasions before marriage Sh. Babu Lal accused demanded one thing or the other and undue cash and to save his position in his. social life, he did expenses beyond his capacity in the marriage and paid cash, articles, ornaments, etc. etc. supply to satisfy his desires'. The complaint proceeds to make further allegations of undue demands from the wife from time to time on different occasions at Jullundur and it is claimed that the husband has been able 'to collect about Rs. 20000.00 from the complainant by demanding dowry from complainant absolutely undue.' The learned Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, who took cognizance of the complaint, examined the father of the wife, as well as the wife. In the course of his statement the father slated that 'At the time of finalization of the marriage accused No. 1 to 5 represented that they would not seek any dowry but soon after the solemnization of the marriage, they started making demands I had tried to fulfill the demands of the accused according to my means yet they were not satisfied. Whenever my daughter met me, she told me that she was being tortured and harassed and that whenever I learnt about the torture about my daughter from other sources, I went to Jullundur, the marital house of my daughter and paid in cash. Thus in this way accused No. 1 collected about Rs. 25000.00 from me, they made demands from me.' In her statement, the wife alleged that 'the accused persons made undue demands of dowry. All the accused pressurised me to bring cash from my parents as they had not given T.V , Scooter, etc. My father paid Rs. 2500.00 as price of the T.V. After sometime of the marriage, my husband accused Madan Lal, sold away his scooter and asked me to request my father to give me a new scooter, on which I approached my father who gave about Rs. 8000.00 to my husband in Installments for the purchase of the scooter.' She made other allegations but they all relate, as some of the instances referred to earlier, to the period subsequent to the marriage, and in relation to the demand made at Jullundur. By and order of December 20, 1982, the Court found sufficient grounds to proceed against all the accused persons under Section 3 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 and directed them to be summoned. On a preliminary objection with regard to the lack of jurisdiction, the Metropolitan Magistrate, who' was then seized of the matter, made an order on July 25, 1983 dismissing the complaint on the ground that on a perusal of the complaint and the evidence, it was clear that the 'offence was never committed at Delhi and the same, if any, was committed at Jullundur. Demand of Dowry can be taken into consideration only at the place where the demand was made.' It was further pointed out that, according to the complaint, the daughter of the complainant was harassed at Jullundur and payment was made at Jullundur and it was not the case of the complainant that the demand was ever made at Delhi by any of the accused persons. The order of the trial court was set aside by the Addl.. Sessions Judge in revision on the ground that the allegation contained in para (4) of the complaint 'spell out the demand raised of cash, jewellery and other articles which were made on the complainant i.e. the father of the girl at or before the marriage.' It was, thereforee, held the this demand was in 'consideration' of marriage within the meaning of Section 2 of the Act and 'since demand was made on the complainant i.e. the present petitioner at Delhi, where the marriage was performed', Courts Delhi had the necessary jurisdiction to entertain the complaint. It was fur ther held that the last payment of Rs. 10000.00 was communicated to the complainant at Delhi and for that reason also, Delhi Courts had the necessary jurisdiction.

(3) According to the petitioners, neither the complaint nor the preliminary evidence of the wife and her fattier disclose any offence punishable under Section 3 of the Act, much less the commission of any such offence within the territorial jurisdiction of this Court and that the dismissal of the complaint by the trial court was eminently justified, both on the court of jurisdiction, and on the merits. It: was further urged on behalf of the petitioners that, on the averments in the complaint, the various causes of action, if any, arose in Jullundur, where the demands were allegedly made from time to time and were said to have been satisfied. It was further urged that the post-marital demands would be outside the mischief of the expression 'dowry', as defined in Section 2 of the Act, and could, if at all, attract the penal provision of Section 4, a complaint of which is not maintainable without the prior sanction of the State Government and there is neither a complaint of that offence nor were the petitioners summoned in relation thereto. According to the petitioners, a frivolous complaint was filed as a counterblast to the matrimonial proceedings filed by the husband in Jullundur, with a view to put undue pressure on the husband. On the other hand, it was urged on behalf of the complainant that the allegations, inter alia, in para (4) of the complaint contain a specific allegation of demand of dowry at the time of marriage besides a similar demand on other occasions and that this averment in the complaint clearly made out a case of an offence under Section 3 of the Act, irrespective of the manner in which the expression 'dowry' as defined in Section 2, was interpreted. A strong pleas was made on behalf of the wife that, having regard to the prevalence of the evil of dowry and the frequency with which newly married girls were driven in desperation, on account of the exorbitant demands of the husband and the in-laws, to the extreme step of suicide by self-immolation, and the cruel treatment being meted out to the young and innocent victims of bride burning, the expression 'dowry' should be liberally construed so as to bring within its mischief various demands made on the family of the wife, not only before and at the time of the marriage but even subsequent thereto, as such demands are invariably conceded to save the marriage from being irretrievably broken, and to make married life tolerably pleasant. It was urged that the expression 'consideration' used in Section 2 in defining the expression 'dowry' would be wide enough to cover such post-marital demands as they have relation to the matrimonial relationship and are closely connected with it.

(4) Section 3 of the Act. makes penal the giving or taking of dowry or abetting of either of these. The expression 'dowry' is defined by Section 2 of the Act, as meaning, anything which is given, either directly or indirectly, by one party to a marriage to the other party to the marriage or by the parents of either party to a marriage or by any other parson to either party to the marriage or to any other person 'at or before or after the marriage as consideration for the marriage of the said parties.' The expression 'consideration' has a known connotation in the law of contract, from where it has apparently been lifted by the draftsmen. The choice of this expression is rather inappropriate and its use in the context of dowry is unfortunate and has led to avoidable judicial controversies because it incorporates in a socially necessarily legislation a purely commercial concept, which is wholly foreign to the purpose sought to be achieved by the legislation. The position has since been somewhat retrieved by the substitution of the expression but the amen- ded definition would perhaps be of no avail in the present case as it has not been given retrospective effect. If the amendment is purely clarificatory, it could perhaps be within the principle that any clarificatory amendment of a law does not represent a change but represents what the intention of the legislature originally must have been. The nature of the amendment, however, does not appear to attract that principle. The result, thereforee, is that in the face of the law as it then stood, the property given must not merely be connected' with the marriage but must be connected as a quid pro quo, as' it 'were. In this sense', it is the property given either to secure an agreement to marry or given at the time of marriage in exchange for of as the reason for the marriage, as it were. It may also include property given subsequent to the marriage bu' expressly deferred as the reason for the marriage but 'would not include property that may pass hands subsequent to the marrage, even months or years after it, merely to save the marriage-from being broken or to otherwise keep the family of the in-laws of the wife better disclosed towards: her, or to smoothen the course of matrimonial life, or to save the wife from harassment, humiliation, or taunts, on the ground that she did not bring enough at the time of marriage.

(5) While on this interpretation, the allegations in the complaint, with regard to the demand for gifts, and cash, made from time to time months and even years after the marriage at Jullundur,would be clearly outside the mischief of the expression 'dowry' and would in any event not attract the territorial jurisdiction of courts in Delhi, the same could not be said in respect of a- specific allegation made in para (4) of the complaint that, interalia, at the time of marriages and even before the marriage, Babu Lal, accused demanded one thing or the other and that the demand was satisfied in spite of the financial difficulty of the complainant- This allegation clearly attracts not only the penal provision of Section 3, but also the territorial jurisdiction of this Court, because the marriage was admittedly soldered at Delhi. It is no doubt true that in their preliminary evidence, neither the wife nor her father in terms support his averment. On the contrary, the father of the wife stated in his preliminary evidence that at the time of finalisation of the marriage, the petitioners represented that they would not seek any dowry 'but soon after the solemnisation of the marriages, they started, making demands' The wife, however, did make in her preliminary evidence a vague assertion that the accused persons made 'undue demands of dowry' although the details that followed relate to demands made months and even. years after the solemnisation of the marriage. It is, however, good to remember in this context that jurisdiction of a Court is primarily based on the allegations with which a party, seeking the intervention of the court, whether a plaint, in civil proceedings, or a complaint, in a criminal court comes to the Court. The complaint in the present case ex facie contains the allegation that 'at the time of marriage' Babu Lal accused demanded dowry which in spite of financial difficulty the father of the wife satisfied. This allegation is no doubt, to an extent, watered down by the rather vague statements made in the course of preliminary evidence, but that, to my mind. would not divert the court of the jurisdiction to entertain the complaint whatever be the weight that may be attached eventually to the allegations, at the trial of the complaint, either because the allegation is vague or because the statements in the course of preliminary evidence do not support the allegation or, on one reckoning, contradict it. But if the averment in para (4) of the complaint be the only basis of jurisdiction of the courts in Delhi, it is difficult to extend the jurisdiction .qua the accused, other than the accused, who is specifically mentioned in this Para' and the allegations in the para relate only to Babu Lal, the brother of the husband. While, thereforee, on the averments in the complaint, there was undoubted jurisdiction to proceed against Babu Lal for an offence under Section 3 of the Act, the same could not be said with regard to the other petitioners in that demand or the action attributed to them relate to events long after the marriage and none of these events are alleged to,have occurred nor any of these demands are alleged to have been made within the territorial jurisdiction of this Court.

(6) In the result, the petition succeeds in part. There was sufficient ground to proceed against Babu Lal, and the Court in Delhi had the necessary jurisdiction to entertain the complaint, to that extent, but there is no ground to proceed against the other accused persons in relation to an offence under Section 3 of the Act, of which cognizance could be taken by a court in Delhi. The offences alleged against the other petitioners, if at all, were either committed outside the jurisdiction of the court in Delhi or fell within mischief of Section 4 of the Act, and a complaint of this offence could be filed in a court in Jullundur and that too with the prior consent of the State Government. I would, thereforee, quash the complaint, in so far as the proceedings against petitioners, other than Babu Lal are concerned. The complaint, as against Babu Lal, is competent although it would be open to the trial court to decide the question at the trial, if on the material to be brought On record, the offences alleged against Babu Lal in para 4 of the complaint could be said to have been committed within the territorial jurisdiction of the Court is Delhi. In the proceedings against Babu Lal, the trial court Would ignore the allegations in relation to demands made subsequent to the marriage, and which -are said to have been made or accepted at Jullundur. The wife and her father would, however, be at liberty to file an appropriate complaint in a court of competent jurisdiction in relation to the various allegations made against the other petitioners in respect of the post-marital demands after obtaining the consent of the State Government in accordance with law. Cr. M (Main) is disposed of in these terms. The complainant and the petitioner, Babu Lal are directed to appear before the trial court on September 25, 1984. The order of the trial court in relation to the other petitioners is restored and the order of the Additional Sessions Judge is modified accordingly.

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