Mumbai : Observing that relatives of a husband are usually roped in and arraigned as accused by the wife in complaints of domestic violence cases, the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court recently said the subordinate courts must be “cautious” while taking cognizance of such complaints. The HC accordingly quashed the criminal process issued by a Magistrate against the relatives of a man.
A single-judge bench of Justice Vibha Kankanwadi said, “The orders of issuance of process is a very serious business. It requires judicious application of mind. No person can be asked to face a criminal trial only on the basis of some stray statements.”
“The subordinate courts ought to consider the tendency to implicate all the family members of a husband in such types of cases. Therefore, courts should be slow in accepting the allegations against relatives, even at a prima facie stage,” Justice Kankanwadi held.
The bench was seized with nearly seven criminal appeals filed by Ankur Gaikwad and his family members including his parents, younger brother, two married sisters and their husbands. The entire Gaikwad family petitioned the HC challenging the orders of a Magistrate issuing criminal process against them under charges of domestic violence, dowry demand and criminal intimidation.
The complainant, Anjali — Ankur’s wife — had registered a private complaint against all of her in-laws for harassing her both physically and mentally. In her complaint, she had claimed that her in-laws made illegal demands of dowry.
Having perused the complaint, Justice Kankanwadi noted that the allegations made by Anjali against her husband, his parents and younger brother, cannot be faulted with since they all lived in the same house.
“However, it is to be noted that Anjali’s sister-in-laws and their husbands resided at different places and whatever is alleged against them is in chorus. The allegations against them is that they made illegal demands and thereafter whatever else is alleged to be stated by them is in chorus. No particular role has been attributed to them,” the court noted.
“Only an omnibus statement has been made against them (sister-in-laws and their husbands) by Anjali. Therefore, considering this aspect, the Magistrate should not have issued process against them and thus if they are asked to face trial, it would be an abuse of the process of law,” Justice Kankanwadi said.
Accordingly, the bench quashed the process issued against both of Ankur’s sisters and also their husbands. The court, however, maintained the process, as issued against Ankur, his parents and his younger brother.