Mumbai High Court
Mumbai High Court

Mumbai: In a significant ruling, the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court recently held that in cases of dowry or dowry death, the allegations levelled against the relatives of a husband must be proved beyond reasonable doubt by the family of the bride. The HC accordingly, quashed a dowry demand case filed against the relatives of a man, who were booked for demanding dowry.

A bench of Justices Tanaji Nalawade and Kishor Sonawane was seized with a bunch of petitions seeking to quash the dowry demand proceedings initiated against the family members (sisters and brothers-in-law) of a 32-year-old man. They were booked by Beed Police as per the allegations levelled by the bride, who had accused them of demanding dowry and constantly harassing her.

The bride had also accused her husband and his parents of making illegal demands. She had further alleged that her father-in-law had tried to molest her. According to the bride, her in-laws harassed and tortured her for not bringing Rs 2 lakh from her family. She accused her husbands sisters and brothers-in-law of scolding, harassing and torturing her. On the other hand, the relatives, argued that the complaint filed by the bride did not reveal any mental or physical cruelty meted out to the bride.

Having heard the contentions, the bench said, We find that allegations cast on behalf of the bride against these distant relatives are vague and general in nature. There are no specific allegations in regard to their overt act for maltreatment and harassment and there were no detailed particulars given in the complaint about the participation or the role played by these relatives to humiliate or insult her.

The allegations about scolding, etc. on the part of these relatives all are stray and sweeping in nature. In the cases, where accusations are made, the overt acts attributed to persons other than the husband are required to be proved beyond reasonable doubt, the bench ruled.

The judges further noted the fact that the allegations as mentioned in the FIR would not constitute any offence. It would be unjust and improper to allow the prosecution to proceed against these relatives, as it would cause injustice to them. It would also dissipate the precious time of court of law. Hence, penal proceedings initiated against them deserve to be quashed and set aside.

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