published in http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/imgst.aspx?filename=40683
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 1231 OF 2013
[Arising out of SLP (Crl.) No. 382 of 2013]
Fiona Shrikhande .. Appellant
State of Maharashtra and Another .. Respondents
J U D G M E N T
K. S. Radhakrishnan, J.
2. We are, in this case, concerned with an incident which happened in
Flat No. 5, 2nd Floor, Goolestan, East Wing, Cuffe Parade, Mumbai, which
led to the filing of a complaint alleging offences under Sections 294 and
3. The Complainant (2nd respondent herein) is the sister-in-law of the
accused, being the wife of the complainant’s brother. Complainant and
her brother are the sole surviving heirs of their parents who are no more.
Facts indicate that the father had the tenancy rights over the flat where
the incident is alleged to have taken place.
4. Complaint Case No. 4701623/SS/11 was filed before the Additional
Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, 47th Court at Esplanade Mumbai alleging
offences punishable under Sections 298 and 504 IPC. Complainant stated
that she moved into the above mentioned flat on 23.04.2011 along with her
husband, her servants and necessary household belongings. Having come to
know of the same, her brother along with accused came to India from USA and
occupied one out of the four bedrooms in the flat and then indulged in
several unlawful acts with a view to push the complainant out of the flat.
On 8.5.2011, the accused accompanied by her daughter (born to her from her
first marriage) came to the flat at about 4.00 p.m. and then left for
filing a complaint before the Cuffe Parade Police Station against the
complainant stating that she had broken the locks of their rooms in the
flat. After lodging the complaint, she came back to the flat and rushed
into the room where the idols are kept and shouted that she would not
permit anyone to enter the Puja room. The complainant has described the
incident as follows:
“….As I and my husband were explaining to S.I. Pawar that she had no
right whatsoever to deny or prevent our access to the Puja Room the
Accused shouted that if I was so keen on doing Puja, she would move
the Devara outside. She ran to the Devara and began to push it.
Finding it a little heavy, she then ran in frenzy, picked up my
clothes and that I had left on the bed, took them to the living room
and threw them on the sofa. She then came back to the Puja Room and in
a premeditated fashion made a second attempt to push the Devara out of
the room. She proceeded to drag the Devara in a rough manner thereby
dislodging all the frames and idols of our Kula Devatas making them
fall to the floor. The lamp that I had lit also fell to the ground
and the flame was extinguished. She did this with the deliberate
intention of wounding the religious feelings of me and my husband
knowing fully well that it would not only wound our religious feelings
but will cause us a lot of hurt and anguish at this sacrilege at her
hands. At this point of time, even S.I. Pawar tried to reason with
her not to indulge in such a sacrilegious act. Even then, the
Accused ignored the pleas of her own daughter and of S.I. Pawar to
stop indulging in such sacrilege to our Gods, and intentional insult
to me and my husband. Thereafter, Marisha shouted at the Accused and
asked her to stop indulging in such acts.”
5. On the basis of the above allegations, the complainant preferred a
complaint on 18.5.2011, which was registered as Complaint Case No.
4701623/SS/11. Learned Additional Chief Magistrate, after perusal of the
complaint, found a prima facie case to take cognizance under Section 504
IPC against the accused and, consequently, issued process to the accused
vide his order dated 23.8.2011.
6. The appellant then preferred Criminal Revision Application No. 1124
of 2011 challenging the order issuing the process for offence punishable
under Section 504 IPC. It was contented that the allegation that she had
indulged in any action with an intention to provoke the complainant to
break breach of public peace or commit any other offence, was totally
unfounded. Further, it was also pointed out that no details had been
furnished in that complaint to show in what manner the appellant had
attempted to provoke the complainant, so as to attract Section 504 IPC.
Further, it was pointed out that the complaint ought to have disclosed the
actual words if, at all, used by the appellant, which would have provoked
her to commit any other offence. It was also pointed out that the learned
Magistrate has not properly understood the scope of Section 202 Cr.P.C. in
issuing the process to the appellant.
7. The Revision Application was resisted to by the complainant and,
referring to various statements made in the complaint, it was submitted
that the ingredients of Section 504 IPC have been fully satisfied.
Further, it was also pointed out that it is not necessary that the
complaint should verbatim reproduce the words spoken by the appellant and
that once the complaint makes out a prima facie case for issuing the
process and the Court is satisfied of the same, the Court has got the power
to issue the process under Section 202 Cr.P.C.
8. Learned Additional Sessions Judge, after examining the rival
contentions, found no merits in the application and dismissed the same vide
his order dated 27.7.2012. Aggrieved by the same, the accused preferred
Criminal Writ Petition No. 2944 of 2012 for quashing the proceedings
initiated under Section 504 IPC before the High Court. Learned single
Judge of the High Court, after perusing the rival contentions, also found
no merits in the said petition and dismissed the same, against which this
appeal has been preferred.
9. Shri C.U. Singh, learned senior counsel appearing for the appellant,
submitted that the learned Magistrate has committed an error in taking
cognizance of an offence under Section 504 IPC, in the absence of any
material specifying the insulting words actually used by the accused, which
would have provocated the complainant to commit any other offence.
Learned senior counsel submitted that the learned Magistrate ought not to
have taken the cognizance and issued the process on a complaint which is
nothing but verbatim reproduction of the language of Section 504 IPC,
without any particulars.
10. Mr. Uday U. Lalit, learned senior counsel appearing for the
respondents, on the other hand, contended that the complaint discloses
sufficient materials leading to the offence under Section 504 IPC and the
learned Magistrate has correctly taken cognizance of the same and issued
the process and the Sessions Judge as well as the High Court has rightly
rejected the prayer for quashing the proceedings initiated under Section
504 IPC. Learned senior counsel submitted that if the averments in the
complaint prima facie make out a case, the Magistrate can always taken
cognizance of the same and it is not necessary that the complaint should
verbatim reproduce all the ingredients of the offence nor is it necessary
that the complaint should state in so many words that the intention of the
accused was fraudulent.
11. We are, in this case, concerned only with the question as to whether,
on a reading of the complaint, a prima facie case has been made out or not
to issue process by the Magistrate. The law as regards issuance of
process in criminal cases is well settled. At the complaint stage, the
Magistrate is merely concerned with the allegations made out in the
complaint and has only to prima facie satisfy whether there are sufficient
grounds to proceed against the accused and it is not the province of the
Magistrate to enquire into a detailed discussion on the merits or demerits
of the case. The scope of enquiry under Section 202 is extremely limited
in the sense that the Magistrate, at this stage, is expected to examine
prima facie the truth or falsehood of the allegations made in the
complaint. Magistrate is not expected to embark upon a detailed discussion
of the merits or demerits of the case, but only consider the inherent
probabilities apparent on the statement made in the complaint. In Nagawwa
v. Veeranna Shivalingappa Konjalgi and Others (1976) 3 SCC 736, this Court
held that once the Magistrate has exercised his discretion in forming an
opinion that there is ground for proceeding, it is not for the Higher
Courts to substitute its own discretion for that of the Magistrate. The
Magistrate has to decide the question purely from the point of view of the
complaint, without at all adverting to any defence that the accused may
12. Having noticed the scope of Section 202 Cr.P.C., let us examine
whether the ingredients of Section 504 IPC have been made out for the
Magistrate to initiate proceedings. Section 504 is extracted for easy
“504. Intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the
peace.- Whoever intentionally insults, and thereby gives provocation
to any person, intending or knowing it to be likely that such
provocation will cause him to break the public peace, or to commit any
other offence, shall be punished with imprisonment of either
description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or
13. Section 504 IPC comprises of the following ingredients, viz., (a)
intentional insult, (b) the insult must be such as to give provocation to
the person insulted, and (c) the accused must intend or know that such
provocation would cause another to break the public peace or to commit any
other offence. The intentional insult must be of such a degree that should
provoke a person to break the public peace or to commit any other offence.
The person who intentionally insults intending or knowing it to be likely
that it will give provocation to any other person and such provocation will
cause to break the public peace or to commit any other offence, in such a
situation, the ingredients of Section 504 are satisfied. One of the
essential elements constituting the offence is that there should have been
an act or conduct amounting to intentional insult and the mere fact that
the accused abused the complainant, as such, is not sufficient by itself to
warrant a conviction under Section 504 IPC.
14. We may also indicate that it is not the law that the actual words or
language should figure in the complaint. One has to read the complaint as
a whole and, by doing so, if the Magistrate comes to a conclusion, prima
facie, that there has been an intentional insult so as to provoke any
person to break the public peace or to commit any other offence, that is
sufficient to bring the complaint within the ambit of Section 504 IPC. It
is not the law that a complainant should verbatim reproduce each word or
words capable of provoking the other person to commit any other offence.
The background facts, circumstances, the occasion, the manner in which they
are used, the person or persons to whom they are addressed, the time, the
conduct of the person who has indulged in such actions are all relevant
factors to be borne in mind while examining a complaint lodged for
initiating proceedings under Section 504 IPC.
15. We have already extracted the relevant portions of the complaint.
If they are so read in the above legal settings, in our view, a prima facie
case has been made out for initiating proceedings for the offence alleged
under Section 504 IPC.
16. In such circumstances, we find no reason to take a different view
from that of the High Court. The appeal is accordingly dismissed, without
expressing any opinion on the merits of the case.
(K. S. Radhakrishnan)
(A. K. Sikri)
August 22, 2013
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