Mere Naming Distant Relatives in Dowry Cases Not Enough to Summon Them, Evidence Must : Madhya Pradesh HC

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The court noted that the court must be guided by the principle to prevent distant relatives from facing trial but in the present case the a prima facie case warranting investigation was established

The Madhya Pradesh High Court, in a significant ruling, has emphasised that merely naming distant relatives without substantial evidence is insufficient to summon them in dowry harassment cases. However, if a prima facie case is established warranting investigation the court should not interfere with the same.

Justice Gurpal Singh Ahluwalia, presiding over the case, stated that “In order to prosecute the near and dear relatives of the husband of the complainant, the allegations must be clear, specific and should not be vague, omnibus and general.”

“The Court has, thus, to be careful in summoning distant relatives without there being specific material. Only the husband, his parents or at best close family members may be expected to demand dowry or to harass the wife but not distant relations, unless there is tangible material to support allegations made against such distant relations. Mere naming of distant relations is not enough to summon them in the absence of any specific role and material to support such role,” the court remarked.

The court, however, acknowledged that the petitioner/applicant had already sought legal remedies before the jurisdictional court, with proceedings still pending. The cover ruled that the applicant could continue to avail such remedies at various stages of the investigation and trial, including during remand proceedings, bail applications, and potentially seeking discharge or quashing of the criminal case if no legal evidence indicates their involvement in the crime.

The court made the observation while hearing a case filed by R.D. Mishra (petitioner), a 72-year-old retired line supervisor, sought to quash an FIR registered against him at the Women Police Station, Panna. The FIR was lodged by Sonam Shukla, who alleged that she was married to Praveen Gautam on May 5, 2018. Shukla claimed her parents provided Rs.8 lakh in cash, gold ornaments, silver, and household articles as dowry. She alleged that initially, she was treated well, but after one year, her husband assaulted her for not preparing food and demanded an additional Rs.2 lakh and a four-wheeler. When Shukla complained to her in-laws, including Mishra, she alleged they supported her husband's demands and mistreated her. Mishra's counsel argued that the petitioner lived 2.5 km away from Shukla's matrimonial home and had not been in contact with the family for 30 years. Mishra claimed false implication and requested a fair investigation.

The FIR alleged that on 15.06.2019, the complainant was beaten by her husband and that her father had not given Rs.2 lakh and a four-wheeler in dowry. When the complainant reported this to the applicant and other in-laws, the applicant allegedly supported the husband's actions and stated that he would deal with the situation because the dowry had not been provided.

The court reviewed the submissions and the Supreme Court precedents, emphasising the necessity of clear and specific allegations against distant relatives. He cited the Supreme Court rulings in Kans Raj v. State of Punjab, Monju Roy v. State of W.B., and others, which state that vague and general accusations are insufficient for prosecution.

Further, referencing the Supreme Court’s observation in the case of ‘Taramani Parakh v. State of M.P (2015), the court noted, “A tendency has…developed for roping in all relations of the in-laws of the deceased wives in the matters of dowry deaths which, if not discouraged, is likely to affect the case of the prosecution even against the real culprits. In their over enthusiasm and anxiety to seek conviction for maximum people, the parents of the deceased have been found to be making efforts for involving other relations which ultimately weaken the case of the prosecution even against the real accused…”

The court noted specific accusations in the FIR that Mishra supported the husband’s demands and challenged the situation. However, it found no substantial evidence linking Mishra to the alleged dowry demands and harassment. The court highlighted that the Supreme Court had repeatedly cautioned against dragging distant relatives into such cases without concrete evidence.

The court observed that in the present case, the petitioner failed to present specific material facts or particulars to substantiate claims of mala fide exercise of power by the investigating officer. The court noted that merely pointing out circumstances questioning the manner of arrest, without legal evidence linking the accused to the crime, is insufficient. A vague and unsubstantiated assertion is not enough to support such claims. “Merely because the applicant has made an application to the Superintendent of Police for free and fair investigation, the applicant cannot claim that the Police must investigate from his point of view also,” the court said.

The court reiterated its consistent stance that the accused cannot request a change in the Investigating Agency or dictate the manner of investigation, including seeking court-monitored investigation.

The court ruled that it cannot supervise the investigation, referencing the Supreme Court judgment in the case of Manohar Lal Sharma Vs. Principal Secretary and others (2014). The court noted “There is a distinction between supervision and monitoring.”

Consequently, considering the overall facts and circumstances, the court concluded that a prima facie case warranting investigation was established. The court held “the application fails and is hereby dismissed.”


Cause Title: R. D. MISHRA v STATE OF MADHYA PRADESH [M.Cr.C.No.19711/2024]