The Karnataka High Court has called out women who frivolously name all family members of the husband in an alleged dowry harassment case. While hearing the current matter where woman’s mother-in-law, sister-in-law and brother-in-law had all been named in a 498A case, the court noted:
Family members are being named without an allegation of active involvement and cannot be proceeded against on casual reference.
The proceedings against all three have been quashed, while husband’s trial will continue.
The couple got married on April 13, 2008. Later, the complainant woman alleged that her in- laws were constantly provoking her husband to demand more dowry from her. The woman said that her husband had “extracted” more than 450gm of gold from her. She also mentioned that he had taken away the gold which was in the custody of her sister-in-law.
The woman then decided to take her ornaments back, however on December 15, 2013, when she and her parents demanded the same to be returned to them, the husband along with the petitioners allegedly abused them in a filthy language.
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The woman cited this instance and filed a case against all the petitioners under Section 498A and other IPC sections along with Dowry Prohibition Act in 2020.
The trio then approached the Karnataka high court to quash proceedings initiated against them before a JMFC (Court of Judicial Magistrate of First Class) court at Udupi. The petitioners stated that there was no precise allegation against them and also a delay was witnessed from the complainant’s side for lodging the case.
The mother-in-law also informed court that she lives with another son (complainant’s brother-in-law) in Australia.
High Court Observation
While the high court has ordered a trial in the matter against the husband, Justice Ashok G Nijagannavar noted,
It has become a course of mandatory action to involve the entire family in matrimonial dispute.
Without an allegation of active involvement in the matter, just nonchalant reference of names of the family members in a matrimonial dispute would not be the defendant for taking cognisance against them.
Justice Nijagannavar highlighted that all the allegations were against husband and only the allegation of instigation for dowry demand was made against the in-laws. Besides this one incident, there was not a single occurrence of dowry harassment by in-laws in the complaint. The judge concluded,
Thus, involvement of all these petitioners in the whole incident appears to be a causal inclusion of their names. It can’t be overlooked that it would be a total abuse of process of law if the proceedings are allowed to be continued against these petitioners.
The judgement was delivered last week. While the judgement is a relief for complainant’s in-laws, there is no repercussion for her for casually dragging them all to court.