The Supreme Court has ruled that 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 ruling was delivered by a bench comprising Justices S A Bobde and L Nageswara Rao, who also cautioned the courts to be careful in proceeding against "distant relatives" of the husband in such cases.
The Ruling: Key Highlights
• The bench said that the courts should be careful in proceeding against the distant relatives of the husband in crimes pertaining to matrimonial disputes and dowry deaths.
• It said that 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 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 bench observed that criminal proceedings are not normally interdicted by the court at the interlocutory stage unless there is an abuse of process of a court. However, it stated that at the same time, the court does not hesitate to interfere to secure the ends of justice.
The top court's ruling while it was hearing 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 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 Hyderabad high court seeking to squash the proceedings against them in the case but their plea was dismissed. They had later 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 there was a marital discord between the concerned couple and maternal uncles of the husband were supporting him, who was physically and mentally torturing his wife.
While ruling on the matter, the apex court said that except the fact that the uncles supported the husband who was harassing his wife, nothing else indicated their involvement in the crime mentioned.
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