While ruling on a very significant legal point in matrimonial disputes, the Indore Bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court in a most learned, laudable, landmark and latest judgment titled Pankaj Mehta & Ors vs State of Madhya Pradesh in Misc. Criminal Case No. 33634 of 2023 that was reserved on October 13, 2023 and then finally pronounced on October 17, 2023 has most rationally, robustly and remarkably quashed a criminal case against a husband by following the reasoning that a compromise has already been reached between the concerned spouses and it was clearly specified that the court can avail its power under Section 482 of CrPC to quash criminal proceedings based on the compromise arrived upon by both parties. The Bench explicitly stated while disposing off the matter that, “If compromise between husband and wife is effectuated by the attempts of their family members, it will not only be good for society but also beneficial for their remaining life. The object of compromise is to settle down. The object of compromise is to settle in life and live peacefully.” Very rightly so!
At the very outset, we find that the Single Judge Bench of the Indore Bench of Madhya Pradesh High Court comprising of Hon’ble Shri Justice Prem Narayan Singh sets the ball in motion by first and foremost putting forth in para 1 of this brief, brilliant, bold and balanced judgment that, “This petition under Section 482 of Cr.P.C. has been preferred by the applicants for quashment of FIR registered at Crime No. 124/2021 at Police Station Mahila Thana, Indore for offences under Sections 498-A, 323,34 of the Indian Penal Code (in short ‘IPC’) and Section 3/4 of Dowry Prohibition Act.”
To put things in perspective, the Bench while elaborating on the facts of the case envisages in para 2 that, “The facts of the case briefly stated are that the marriage of respondent No.2 Smt. Purvi Kimtee (henceforth “complainant”) was solemnized with Robin Kimtee on 12.05.2018 as per Hindu rituals. It is alleged in the complaint that the father of the complainant gave Rs. 5 lacs and ornaments as dowry and spent Rs. 40 lacs in the marriage. It is also alleged that on the very next day of marriage, the husband and his family harassed her on petty issues. As per complaint, she told her husband to apply residential Visa of Australia for which her husband demanded money from her parents. Thereafter, she went Australia with her husband but since she was not possessing the residential Visa, she had to return India. Thereafter, she insisted her husband to apply residential Visa of Australia. After some time, her parents gave Rs. 10 lacs to the parents of her husband for arrangement to go Australia. She went Australia but due to lack of Visa, she had to return again India. Thereafter, her parents gave Rs. 25 lacs to the family of husband but they did not arrange her residential Visa of Australia and she is living in the house of her parents. Thereafter, the respondent No. 2 has lodged an FIR bearing Crime No. 124/2021 against the applicants. After completion of investigation charge sheet was filed against the accused/applicants before the Trial Court.”
As we see, the Bench then while elaborating on petitioner’s pleading enunciates in para 3 that, “Petitioners have pleaded in the present petition before this Court filed under Section 482 of CrPC that since a divorce has already been granted by the Australian Courts, the applicants have been falsely made accused. It is further alleged that the FIR has been filed only to wreck vengeance against the applicants and on that basis, proceedings initiated in respect of Crime No. 124/2021, registered at Police Station Mahila Thana, Indore, under sections 498-A, 323,34 of IPC and Section 3 and 4 of Dowry Prohibition Act. On the basis of FIR, proceeding is pending before the Trial Court bearing No. RCT/7856/202. Since, the applicants are innocent and FIR has been lodged on the false substratum, the said FIR and the respective proceeding may be quashed.”
Do note, the Bench notes in para 4 that, “Subsequently on the basis of amicable settlement arrived at between the applicant and complainant/respondent no.2, an application under section 320 of Cr.P.C. has been filed by both the parties and factum of compromise has been verified by Principal Registrar of this Court.”
Be it noted, the Bench notes in para 7 that, “I have heard learned counsel for the parties and perused the record. Before dwelling upon the point, it is pertinent to mention here that after verification of compromise, the complainant Purvi Kimti has also appeared before the Court in person during the proceeding of the case and requested to culminate the whole proceedings of criminal case pending in the Trial Court on the basis of compromise. It is also submitted by the counsel for both the parties that the applicants and the respondent have agreed that none of them would initiate any other legal action or complaint against each other or against the family members of each other with regard to this matrimonial alliance.”
While citing the most relevant case law, the Bench then hastens to add in para 9 elucidating that, “The attention of this Court has also been drawn by the parties towards the land mark judgment of the Hon’ble Apex Court in the case of B. S. Joshi v. State of Haryana, (2003) 1 DMC 524 (SC), wherein in paragraph 14 and 15 it has been held as under:
“14.There is no doubt that the object of introducing Chapter XX-A containing Section 498A in the Penal Code, 1860 was to prevent the torture to woman by her husband or by relatives of her husband. Section 498A was added with view to punishing husband and his relatives who harass or torture the wife to coerce her or her relatives to satisfy unlawful demands of dowry, the hyper-technical view would be counter productive and would act against interests of women and against the object for which this provision was added. There is every likelihood that non-exercise of inherent power to quash the proceedings to meet the ends of justice would prevent women from settling earlier. That is not the object of Chapter XXA of Penal Code, 1860.” “15. In. view of the above discussion, we hold that the High Court in exercise of its inherent powers can quash criminal proceedings or FIR or complaint and Section 320 of the Code does not limit or affect the powers under Section 482 of the Code.”
Quite significantly, the Bench propounds in para 10 that, “In the light of the aforesaid proposition of law, this Court is of the considered view that the aim and object of law is not only to punish the offenders, but, also to maintain peace, tranquility and harmony in the respective society. If compromise between husband and wife is effectuated by the attempts of their family members, it will not only be good for society but also beneficial for their remaining life. The object of compromise is to settle down in life and live peacefully. Need not to say that such type of compromise should be encouraged for maintaining matrimonial relations between the parties so that the parties may think over their defaults and settle their disputes amicably by mutual agreement instead of fighting in a Court of law where it takes years and years to conclude and in that process the parties loose their precious years in attending their cases in different Courts.”
Most significantly, the Bench then mandates in para 11 that, “In the conspectus of the factual matrix of the case in hand, the complainant and members of the family of her husband have settled their disputes and have decided to live separately and, therefore, hyper-technical view regarding the compromise can be counter productive and against the interest of the woman and against the pious object for which the disputes between husband and wife have been settled, because in case the criminal proceedings are still permitted to continue then fresh series of dispute may start between the wife and the members of the family of her husband. In such case the settlement between the parties even in the case of Hindu Marriage Act may also be adversely effected. Therefore, in view of the judgment laid down by the Supreme Court in the case of Gian Singh Vs. State of Punjab and Anr. (Supra) and B. S. Joshi v. State of Haryana (supra), the petition filed by the petitioners deserves to be allowed and is hereby allowed. As a result thereof, the proceedings of RCT/7856/2021, pending before the learned Trial Court are hereby quashed.”
Finally and as a corollary, the Bench then concludes by holding aptly in para 12 that, “In view of the aforesaid, the petition stands disposed of.”
All told, we thus see that the Single Judge Bench of the Indore Bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court comprising of Hon’ble Shri Justice Prem Narayan Singh most rightly, robustly and remarkably quashes the criminal case filed against the husband. It was also made absolutely clear by the Court that taking a hyper-technical view regarding the compromise can be counter-productive and against the interest of the woman and against the pious object for which the disputes between husband and wife have been settled, because in case the criminal proceedings are still permitted to continue then a fresh series of dispute may start between the wife and the members of the family of her husband. Of course, this would definitely be counter-productive to the interests of the wife and so also the husband which alone explains why the Indore Bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court deemed it absolutely fit to quash the criminal case that was filed against the husband. There can be just no denying or disputing it!