Complaint U/S 498A Cannot Be Quashed Because It Was Filed After Divorce Notice, Karnataka HC Observes
Justice M Nagaprasanna, a single judge, stated that there is no legal declaration to support the argument that once a divorce notice is sent by the husband, any subsequent complaint filed by the wife loses its significance
The Karnataka High Court has rejected a husband's petition to dismiss a complaint filed by his wife under section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), after he sent her a legal notice seeking an amicable settlement for the dissolution of their marriage. Justice M Nagaprasanna, a single judge, stated that there is no legal declaration to support the argument that once a divorce notice is sent by the husband, any subsequent complaint filed by the wife loses its significance. The judge emphasised that accepting such a contention would have a negative impact on all complaints, and therefore, it is fundamentally flawed.
The wife had left the matrimonial home following alleged torture, after which the husband sent her a legal notice in October 2022, seeking an amicable settlement and dissolution of their marriage. In December, the wife registered a complaint against the husband under Sections 498-A, 307, and 506 of the IPC, as well as Sections 3 and 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961. The husband's main argument was that the complaint was a counterblast to his legal notice and did not fulfill the requirements for offenses under Section 498-A of the IPC. He claimed that the immediate registration of the complaint after his divorce notice rendered the complaint insignificant.
Upon reviewing the wife's complaint, the judge found multiple instances of alleged mental and physical torture inflicted by the husband. The wife also stated that the husband had attempted to strangle her, resulting in a spinal cord injury requiring treatment. Based on these allegations, the judge concluded that the prima facie offenses were made out and warranted investigation. The judge emphasised that ignoring the alleged offenses due to the timing of the complaint in relation to the divorce notice would have disastrous consequences. The court explained that simultaneous or immediate registration of a complaint after a divorce notice does not nullify the need for investigation when allegations of ongoing torture are involved.
The judge acknowledged that there are cases where family members are unnecessarily implicated by the wife when filing a complaint under Section 498-A of the IPC. However, each case should be evaluated individually. The judge disagreed with a previous ruling by a coordinate bench, which held that an FIR (First Information Report) should be dismissed solely on the grounds that it was filed after the receipt of a divorce notice. According to the judge, such a ruling would undermine the purpose of Section 498-A of the IPC and complaints made under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005.
The court noted that the introduction of Section 498-A in the IPC aimed to prevent the torture of women by their husbands or their relatives. The judge argued that accepting the hyper-technical argument put forward by the husband would work against the interests of women and the objectives of the legislation. Therefore, the declaration of law made by the coordinate bench can only be applied and restricted to the specific facts of that case.
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