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Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973: ss.482 and 468 – Customary divorce – Agreement for, registered – Permanent alimony to wife – Ten years thereafter, wife filed complaint petition against husband and parents-in-law before the Women Cell on the ground that the husband had married for the second time – FIR lodged – Husband and parents-in-law filed application for quashing of the FIR – High Court, in exercise of jurisdiction u/s.482 CrPC, allowed the application – Justification of – Held: Justified – Since parties living separately for more than ten years, case under s.498A IPC not made out at such a distant point of time, particularly in view of the bar of limitation as contained in s.468 CrPC – Even otherwise, on facts, it is unbelievable that the wife was really harassed by her husband or in-laws – Though there does not exist any period of limitation in respect of offence under s.494, but no allegation was made out in regard to commission of said offence so far as the parents-in-law are concerned – If it is a case of customary divorce, question in regard to existence of good custom may have to be gone into, in a civil proceeding – But criminal prosecution shall not lie – It was initiated mala fide – If allowed to continue, same shall be abuse of the process of Court – Penal Code, 1860 – ss. 498A and 494 – Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 – s.13(1)(a) – Abuse of Court. The parties entered into an agreement for divorce in 1996 which was registered in the office of the Joint Sub-Registrar. The said divorce purportedly took place in terms of the custom prevailing in the community to which the parties belong. Appellant-wife also received a sum of Rs.25,000/- towards permanent alimony which was acknowledged by granting a stamped receipt therefor. Respondent No.1 married again in 1998. In 2006, Appellant filed a complaint petition against Respondent Nos. 1, 2 and 3, i.e., her husband and parents-in-law before the Women Cell, inter alia, on the premise that Respondent No.1 had married for the second time which fact she came to learn on receipt of summons in respect of a petition filed by Respondent No.1 under s.13(1)(a) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. A First Information Report (FIR) was lodged pursuant to the said complaint. Respondents were thereafter arrested. An application for quashing the said FIR was filed before the High Court. By reason of the impugned judgment, the said application has been allowed. Appellant submitted before this Court, that in a case of this nature, where investigation into the allegations made in the complaint has been going on, the High Court should not have passed the impugned judgment, upon entering into the purported defence raised by the Respondents, particularly when the State itself, in its counter affidavit filed before the High Court, categorically stated that a prima facie case had been made out for investigation. Respondent Nos.1, 2 and 3, however, submitted that mala fide on the part of Appellant was evident in view of the fact that the complaint petition was filed 10 years after the divorce and that such complaint petition should be considered to be an abuse of the process of the Court. The question which arose for consideration before this Court is as to whether the High Court, in a case of this nature, could exercise its jurisdiction under s.482, CrPC. Dismissing the appeal, the Court HELD: 1. The customary divorce may be legal or illegal. The fact that such an agreement had been entered into or the Appellant had received a sum of Rs.25,000/- by way of permanent alimony, however, stands admitted. The document is a registered one. Appellant being in the legal profession must be held to be aware of the legal implication thereof. If the contents of the said agreement are taken to be correct, indisputably the parties had been living separately for more than ten years. How then a case under s.498A of IPC can be said to have been made out and that too at such a distant point of time is the question, particularly in view of the bar of limitation as contained in s.468 of CrPC. Even otherwise it is unbelievable that the Appellant was really harassed by her husband or her in-laws. [Para 10] [941-G,H, 942-A,B] 2. Though there does not exist any period of limitation in respect of an offence under s.494, as the maximum period of punishment which can be imposed therefor is seven years, but no allegation has been made out in the present case in regard to commission of the said offence so far as the Respondent Nos. 2 and 3 are concerned. If, even for exercising its jurisdiction under s.482 of CrPC, the High Court has taken into consideration an admitted document, there is no legal infirmity therein. If it is a case of customary divorce, the question in regard to the existence of good custom may have to be gone into in a civil proceeding. But a criminal prosecution shall not lie. It was initiated mala fide. Thus, if it is allowed to continue, the same shall be an abuse of the process of Court. [Para 12] [942-C-F] Gurukrishna Kumar, Srikala Gurukrishna Kumar and T. Senthil Kumar for the Appellant. V. Karoagaraj, R. Shnmugasundaram, S. Thananjayan, V.G. Pragasam, S.J. Aristotlc and Praburama Subramanian for the Respondents. , 2008(9 )SCR937 , , 2008(9 )SCALE411 , 2008(7 )JT245

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CASE NO.:
Appeal (crl.) 967 of 2008

PETITIONER:
M.Saravana Porselvi

RESPONDENT:
A.R. Chandrashekar @ Parthiban & Ors.

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 27/05/2008

BENCH:
S.B. Sinha & Lokeshwar Singh Panta

JUDGMENT:
J U D G M E N T
(Arising out of SLP (Crl.) No.1641 of 2007)
REPORTABLE

S.B. Sinha, J.

1. Leave granted.
2. Appellant is an advocate. She was married to Respondent No.1 on
or about 1.12.1993.
The parties indisputably are living separately since 1996. She
allegedly filed a complaint before the All Women Police Station at
Virudhunagar. An enquiry was directed to be conducted. As per the
advice of the officers of the said Police Station as also the relatives of the
parties, they entered into an agreement for divorce on or about 24.7.1996.
It was registered in the office of the Joint Sub-Registrar, Virudhunagar
being Registration No.146 of 1996. Appellant also received a sum of
Rs.25,000/- towards permanent alimony which was acknowledged by
granting a stamped receipt therefor. The said purported divorce is said to
have taken place in terms of the custom prevailing in the community the
which the parties belong.
3. Admittedly, the first respondent married again in 1998. He has two
children out of the said wedlock.
4. Appellant, however, filed a complaint petition against the
respondent Nos. 1, 2 and 3 herein, i.e., her husband and parents-in-law in
May, 2006 before the Women Cell at Chennai, inter alia, on the premise
that the first respondent has married for the second time which fact she
came to learn on receipt of a summons in respect of a petition filed by the
first respondent under Section 13(1)(a) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.
5. A First Information Report (FIR) was lodged pursuant to the said
complaint which was registered as Crime No.5 of 2006. Respondents
were arrested.
An application for quashing the said FIR was filed before the High
Court. By reason of the impugned judgment, the said application has
been allowed.
6. Mr. Gurukrishna Kumar, learned counsel appearing on behalf of
the appellant, would submit that in a case of this nature, where
investigation into the allegations made in the complaint has been going
on, the High Court should not have passed the impugned judgment, upon
entering into the purported defence raised by the respondents, particularly
when the State itself, in its counter affidavit filed before the High Court,
categorically stated that a prima facie case had been made out for
investigation.
7. Mr. R. Shunmugasundaram, learned Senior Counsel appearing for
the State, however, would submit that the High Court cannot be said to
have committed an error as the deed of divorce dated 24.7.1996 was a
registered document and, thus, a public document. If, therefore,
execution of the said document has not been denied, the impugned
judgment should not be interfered with.
8. Mr. V. Kanakraj, learned Senior Counsel appearing on behalf of
the respondent Nos.1, 2 and 3, would submit that the mala fide on the part
of the appellant is evident in view of the fact that such a complaint
petition has been filed after a period of 10 years. The learned counsel
contended that as the divorce had taken place 10 years back, it is futile to
urge that the complaint petition filed after such a long time, should not be
considered to be an abuse of the process of the Court.
9. The core question herein is as to whether the High Court, in a case
of this nature, could exercise its jurisdiction under Section 482 of the
Code of Criminal Procedure.
10. The factual backdrop of the matter is not in dispute.
The customary divorce may be legal or illegal. The fact that such
an agreement had been entered into or the appellant had received a sum
of Rs.25,000/- by way of permanent alimony, however, stands admitted.
The document is a registered one. Appellant being in the legal profession
must be held to be aware of the legal implication thereof. If the contents
of the said agreement are taken to be correct, indisputably the parties had
been living separately for more than ten years. How then a case under
Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code can be said to have made out and
that too at such a distant point of time is the question, particularly in view
of the bar of limitation as contained in Section 468 of the Code of
Criminal Procedure. Even otherwise it is unbelievable that the appellant
was really harassed by her husband or her in-laws.
11. We are not oblivious of the fact that there does not exist any period
of limitation in respect of an offence under Section 494, as the maximum
period of punishment which can be imposed therefor is seven years.
12. But no allegation has been made out in regard to commission of the
said offence so far as the respondent Nos. 2 and 3 are concerned. If even
for exercising its jurisdiction under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal
Procedure, the High Court has taken into consideration an admitted
document, we do not see any legal infirmity therein. If it is a case of
customary divorce, the question in regard to the existence of good custom
may have to be gone into in a civil proceeding. But a criminal
prosecution shall not lie. It was initiated mala fide. Thus, it is allowed to
continue, the same shall be an abuse of the process of court.
13. For the reasons aforementioned, there is no legal infirmity in the
impugned judgment. The appeal is dismissed accordingly.

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