New Delhi: The relatives of a husband should not be roped in cases of matrimonial disputes and dowry deaths unless specific instances of their involvement in the crime is made out, the Supreme Court has held.
A bench of Justices S A Bobde and L Nageswara Rao also cautioned the courts to be careful in proceeding against “distant relatives” of the husband in such cases.
The apex court judgement came as it allowed a plea filed by the maternal uncles of a man challenging a Hyderabad High Court’s January 2016 verdict dismissing their petition for quashing criminal proceedings against them in a matrimonial dispute case.
“The courts should be careful in proceeding against the distant relatives in crimes pertaining to matrimonial disputes and dowry deaths. The relatives of the husband should not be roped in on the basis of omnibus allegations unless specific instances of their involvement in the crime are made out,” the bench said.
The bench said that after considering the charge sheets filed in the matter, the court was of the view that a prima facie case was not made out against maternal uncles of the man for alleged charges of subjecting a married woman to cruelty, criminal conspiracy, cheating and kidnapping.
The complainant in the case had filed a complaint with the police alleging harassment by her husband and his family members, including his maternal uncles, and also claimed that her son was kidnapped by her husband.
The maternal uncles of the man had approached the high court seeking quashing of the proceedings against them in the case but their plea was dismissed. They had thereafter approached the apex court challenging the high court’s verdict.
After the high court’s order, charge sheets were filed by the police alleging that the couple had married in December 2008 and were mostly residing in the United States of America.
The police had alleged in the charge sheet that there was a marital discord between them and maternal uncles of the man were supporting the husband, who was physically and mentally torturing his wife.
“Except the bald statement that they (petitioners) supported the third respondent (husband) who was harassing the second respondent (wife) for dowry and that they conspired with the third respondent for taking away his child to the USA, nothing else indicating their involvement in the crime was mentioned,” the apex court said.
“Criminal proceedings are not normally interdicted by us at the interlocutory stage unless there is an abuse of process of a court. This court, at the same time, does not hesitate to interfere to secure the ends of justice,” the bench observed.
During the arguments before the apex court, the counsel for the woman had claimed that certain documents belonging to her were seized from the maternal uncles of her husband which showed their involvement in the alleged kidnapping of her child.