Bombay High Court
Bombay High Court

Mumbai: A stranger or acquaintance to a husband, who is not a relative by blood, marriage or adoption cannot be named as an accused under section 498 A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) that deals with domestic violence, ruled the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court on Tuesday. The HC accordingly quashed FIR filed against the middleman, who introduced the families of the husband and wife for their marriage.

A bench of Justices Vishwas Jadhav and Mukund Sewlikar also noted that there is a trend going on in matrimonial disputes wherein the wife usually ropes in all the "near and dear" ones of the husband.

The bench was seized with a plea filed by six members of Shaikh family, apart from the middleman, seeking to quash the FIR registered against them. The applicants included the husband of a woman, her father-in-law, two married sisters-in-law, brother-in-law, cousin father-in-law, husband and the middleman.

As per the wife's case, her in-laws started ill-treating her within two months of her marriage. She alleged that her husband and a sister-in-law (husband's sister) often taunted her for not bringing good amount of dowry, they even abused and beat her.

As far as others named in the FIR are concerned, a general allegation was made that they all demanded and taunted the wife for failing to bring Rs two lakh as dowry.

The bench noted that there was much material against the husband and one of his sisters. The judges, accordingly opined that they won't quash FIR as against the husband and his married sister, who often termed the wife as an "offspring of a beggar."

"So far as other applicants are concerned vague and general allegations are made against them. No specific role is attributed to any of the applicants," the judges noted.

"Therefore, continuation of prosecution would be nothing but an abuse of process of law. Moreover, tendency is growing to implicate all the near and dear relatives of the husband," the judges observed.

As far as the middleman is concerned, the judges noted that not only close or distant relatives but even strangers are being roped in by women in domestic violence cases.

"One of the applicants is the middlewoman, who is not related to the applicant's husband by marriage, blood or by adoption. She is a mediator. A stranger to the family does not come within the sphere of Section 498-A of the IPC," the judges ruled, adding that "in order to book a person under 498 A, one has to be a relative of the husband by blood, marriage or adoption."

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