Saturday, 14 May 2016

When prosecution for criminal misappropriation of stridhan is not tenable against IN-LAWS?

Giving of dowry and the traditional presents at or about
the time of wedding does not in any way raise a presumption that
such a property was thereby entrusted and put under the dominion
of the parents-in-law of the bride or other close relations so as to
attract ingredients of Section 6 of the Dowry Prohibition Act. As
noticed earlier, after marriage, Syamala Rani and first appellant
were living in Bangalore at their matrimonial house. In respect of
‘stridhana articles’ given to the bride, one has to take into
consideration the common practice that these articles are sent
along with the bride to her matrimonial house. It is a matter of
common knowledge that these articles are kept by the woman in
connection with whose marriage it was given and used by her in
her matrimonial house when the appellants 2 to 6 have been
residing separately in Vizianagaram, it cannot be said that the
dowry was given to them and that they were duty bound to return
the same to Syamala Rani. Facts and circumstances of the case
and also the uncontroverted allegations made in the complaint do
not constitute an offence under Section 6 of the Dowry Prohibition
Act against appellants 2 to 6 and there is no sufficient ground for

proceeding against the appellants 2 to 6. Be it noted that
appellants 2 to 6 are also facing criminal prosecution for the
offence under Sections 498A, 304B IPC and under Sections 3 and 4
of the Dowry Prohibition Act. Even though the criminal proceeding
under Section 6 of the Dowry Prohibition Act is independent of the
criminal prosecution under Sections 3 and 4 of Dowry Prohibition
Act, in the absence of specific allegations of entrustment of the
dowry amount and articles to appellants 2 to 6, in our view,
continuation of the criminal proceeding against appellants 2 to 6 is
not just and proper and the same is liable to be quashed.
REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 45 OF 2016
(Arising out of SLP (Crl.) No. 9344 of 2014)
BOBBILI RAMAKRISHNA RAJU YADAV & ORS. 
Versus
STATE OF ANDHRA PRADESH REP.
R. BANUMATHI, J.
Citation;(2016) 3 SCC309
Dated;January 19, 2016



2. The present appeal assails the order dated
23.07.2014 passed by the High Court of Judicature at
Hyderabad in Criminal Petition No.1778 of 2010, whereby the
High Court declined to quash the proceedings against appellants
No.1 to 6 in C.C. No. 532 of 2009 under Section 6 of the Dowry
Prohibition Act 1961 pending before Additional Judicial First
Class Magistrate, Vizianagaram.
1Page 2
3. Brief facts leading to the filing of this appeal are as
follows:- First appellant is working as an Engineer in G.E. India
Technology Company at Bangalore. Appellants No.2 and 3 are
the parents, appellant No.4 is widowed sister and appellants
No.5 and 6 are the sisters of appellant No.1. Marriage of first
appellant and Syamala Rani was performed at Vizianagaram on
04.05.2007 and after marriage, Syamala Rani was residing at
Bangalore with her husband-appellant No.1. Syamala Rani died
on 06.09.2008 under suspicious circumstances and a case was
registered in FIR No.1492 of 2008 under Sections 304B, 498A
IPC read with Sections 3 and 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act at
H.A.L. Police Station, Bangalore City. On completion of
investigation in the said case, chargesheet was filed against the
appellants No.1 to 6 and the case was committed to Sessions
Court vide committal order dated 29.12.2008 and was taken on
file as S.C. No.79 of 2009 in the Court of Principal Sessions
Judge, Bangalore. Second respondent-father of Syamala Rani
filed a private complaint against the appellants under Section 6
of the Dowry Prohibition Act alleging that he had paid dowry
amount and other articles which were presented as dowry to the
appellants on their demand and the same were not returned.
2Page 3
The Magistrate took cognizance of the offence under Section 6 of
the Dowry Prohibition Act in C.C. No.532 of 2009.
4. The appellants then preferred a petition under
Section 482 Cr.P.C. before the High Court to quash the
complaint i.e. C.C.No.532 of 2009 contending that the complaint
does not disclose an offence and that FIR No.1492 of 2008 was
already registered against the appellants at Bangalore city. The
High Court vide the impugned order dismissed the petition filed
by the appellants holding that the offences alleged in the
previous case in S.C.No.79 of 2009 emanating from the FIR
No.1492 of 2008 and the subsequent complaint in C.C.No.532 of
2009 are not one and the same as the previous case was
registered under Sections 304B and 498A IPC read with Sections
3 and 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, whereas the subsequent
case is registered under Section 6 of the Dowry Prohibition Act
which is independent of the previous case. Being aggrieved, the
appellants have preferred this appeal.
5. Learned counsel for the appellants submitted that the
Magistrate ought not to have taken cognizance of the complaint
as the previous case was already registered against the
appellants in FIR No.1492 of 2008 under Sections 304B and
3Page 4
498A IPC read with Sections 3 and 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act
and the same is pending trial in Sessions Case No.79 of 2009 at
Bangalore city and hence the subsequent complaint is not
sustainable. It was further submitted that the subsequent
complaint C.C.No.532 of 2009 emanates from the same cause of
action and the allegations in the complaint do not constitute the
alleged offence under Section 6 of the Dowry Prohibition Act and
the complaint is an afterthought for wrecking vengeance on the
appellants.
6. Per contra, the learned counsel for respondent
No.2 submitted that the complaint case in C.C. No.532 of 2009
under Section 6 of the Dowry Prohibition Act is independent of
the previous case i.e. FIR No.1492 of 2008 and the pendency of
the said case before the Sessions Court, Bangalore shall not
affect the complaint filed under Section 6 of the Dowry
Prohibition Act. It was submitted that even after death of
Syamala Rani, the appellants threatened the complainant and
his family members and the complainant-respondent No.2 had
led several mediations with the appellant No.1 for return of
dowry amount and other articles which were presented as dowry
on demand made by the appellants and inspite of such
4Page 5
mediations, the appellants did not return the dowry amount and
other articles and hence a prima facie case is made out against
the appellants and the High Court rightly declined to quash the
proceedings.
7. We have considered the rival contentions and perused
the impugned judgment and material available on record.
8. Section 6 of the Dowry Prohibition Act lays down that
where the dowry is received by any person other than the bride,
that person has to transfer the same to the woman in connection
with whose marriage it is given and if he fails to do so within
three months from the date of the marriage, he shall be punished
for violation of Section 6 of the Dowry Prohibition Act. Section 6
reads as under:-
6. Dowry to be for the benefit of the wife or her heirs.-(1)
Where any dowry is received by any person other than the woman
in connection with whose marriage it is given, that person shall
transfer it to the woman-
(a) if the dowry was received before marriage, within [three months]
after the date of marriage; or
(b) if the dowry was received at the time of or after the marriage,
within [three months] after the date of its receipts; or
(c) if the dowry was received when the woman was a minor, within
[three months] after she has attained the age of eighteen years;
and pending such transfer, shall hold it in trust for the benefit of
the woman.
[(2) If any person fails to transfer any property as required by subsection
(1) within the time limit specified therefore, [or as required
by Sub-section (3),] he shall be punishable with imprisonment for
a term which shall not be less than six months, but which may
extend to two years or with fine [which shall not be less than five
5Page 6
thousand rupees, but which may extend to ten thousand rupees]
or with both.]
(3) Where the woman entitled to any property under sub-section (1)
dies before receiving it, the heirs of the woman shall be entitled to
claim it from the person holding it for the time being:
[Provided that where such woman dies within seven years of her
marriage, otherwise than due to natural causes, such property
shall,-
(a) if she has no children, be transferred to her parents; or
(b) if she has children, be transferred to such children and pending
such transfer, be held in trust for such children.]
9. If the dowry amount or articles of married woman was
placed in the custody of his husband or in-laws, they would be
deemed to be trustees of the same. The person receiving dowry
articles or the person who is dominion over the same, as per
Section 6 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, is bound to return the same
within three months after the date of marriage to the woman in
connection with whose marriage it is given. If he does not do so, he
will be guilty of a dowry offence under this Section. The section
further lays down that even after his conviction he must return the
dowry to the woman within the time stipulated in the order.
10. In Pratibha Rani vs. Suraj Kumar & Anr. (1985) 2 SCC
370, this Court observed as follows:-
“20. We are clearly of the opinion that the mere factum of the
husband and wife living together does not entitle either of them to
commit a breach of criminal law and if one does then he/she will be
liable for all the consequences of such breach. Criminal law and
matrimonial home are not strangers. Crimes committed in
matrimonial home are as much punishable as anywhere else. In the
6Page 7
case of stridhan property also, the title of which always remains
with the wife though possession of the same may sometimes be with
the husband or other members of his family, if the husband or any
other member of his family commits such an offence, they will be
liable to punishment for the offence of criminal breach of trust
under Sections 405 and 406 of the IPC.
21. After all how could any reasonable person expect a newly
married woman living in the same house and under the same roof
to keep her personal property or belongings like jewellery, clothing
etc., under her own lock and key, thus showing a spirit of distrust
to the husband at the very behest. We are surprised how could the
High Court permit the husband to cast his covetous eyes on the
absolute and personal property of his wife merely because it is kept
in his custody, thereby reducing the custody to a legal farce. On the
other hand, it seems to us that even if the personal property of the
wife is jointly kept, it would be deemed to be expressly or impliedly
kept in the custody of the husband and if he dishonestly
misappropriates or refuses to return the same, he is certainly guilty
of criminal breach of trust, and there can be no escape from this
legal consequence…..”
11. It is well-settled that power under Section 482 Cr.P.C.
should be sparingly exercised in rare cases. As has been laid down
by this Court in the case of Madhavrao Jiwajirao Scindia & Ors. vs.
Sambhajirao Chandrojirao Angre & Ors., (1988) 1 SCC 692, that
when a prosecution at the initial stage was asked to be quashed,
the test to be applied by the Court was as to whether the
uncontroverted allegations as made in the complaint prima facie
establish the offence. It was also for the Court to take into
consideration any special feature which appears in a particular
case to consider whether it was expedient and in the interest of
justice to permit a prosecution to continue. This was so on the
basis that the Court cannot be utilized for any oblique purpose and
7Page 8
where in the opinion of the Court chances of an ultimate conviction
are bleak and therefore, no useful purpose was likely to be served
by allowing a criminal prosecution to continue, the Court may
while taking into consideration the special facts of a case also
quash the proceedings even though it may be at a preliminary
stage.
12. In the light of the well settled principles, it is to be seen
whether the allegations in the complaint in the present case and
other materials accompanying the complaint disclose the offence
punishable under Section 6 of the Dowry Prohibition Act. Marriage
of first appellant and Syamala Rani was solemnized in
Vizianagaram on 04.05.2007 and the couple was living in
Bangalore. Appellants 2 to 6–the parents and sisters of appellant
No.1 were living in Vizianagaram. It is the contention of the
appellants that there are no allegations in the complaint that the
‘stridhana articles’ were given to appellants 2 to 6 and that they
failed to return the same to Syamala Rani. In paras (3) and (4) of
the complaint filed by the second respondent, it is alleged that he
paid the dowry amount “to the accused and some ‘stridhana
articles’ like double cot and other furniture and utensils required to
set up a family”. In the complaint, it is vaguely alleged that even
8Page 9
after death of deceased-Syamala Rani, the accused started
threatening the complainant and that the accused offered to pay an
amount of Rs.10,000/- towards full and final settlement. The
relevant averments in the complaint in paragraphs (5) and (6) read
as under:-
“5. The complainant submits that even after the death of
the deceased the accused by keeping the dead body on one
side, started threatening the complainant and his family
members that if they give any report to the police, they will
be killed then and there only and they offered to pay an
amount of Rs.10,000/- towards full and final settlement.
There the complainant, who was in deep shock at the death
of his daughter could not answer anything but gave a
report to the police.
6. The complainant submits that he lead several
mediations with the accused through his colleagues, whose
names are mentioned below for return of the dowry, but the
accused did not return the amount and other amounts,
given under different heads. A duty cast upon the accused
to return those articles and amount, which were presented
as dowry on demand made by the accused. The
complainant reserves his right to file a fresh complaint
against all the accused for return of the dowry.”
By reading of the above, it is seen that there are no specific
allegations against appellants 2 to 6 that the dowry articles were
entrusted to them and that they have not returned the dowry
amount and the articles to Syamala Rani. Equally, there are no
allegations that those dowry articles were kept in Vizianagaram and
used by appellants 2 to 6 who were separately living away from the
couple in Bangalore. Even though complainant has alleged that
the dowry amount was paid at the house of the accused at

Gajapathinagaram, there are no specific allegations of entrustment
of the dowry amount and articles to appellants 2 to 6.
13. Giving of dowry and the traditional presents at or about
the time of wedding does not in any way raise a presumption that
such a property was thereby entrusted and put under the dominion
of the parents-in-law of the bride or other close relations so as to
attract ingredients of Section 6 of the Dowry Prohibition Act. As
noticed earlier, after marriage, Syamala Rani and first appellant
were living in Bangalore at their matrimonial house. In respect of
‘stridhana articles’ given to the bride, one has to take into
consideration the common practice that these articles are sent
along with the bride to her matrimonial house. It is a matter of
common knowledge that these articles are kept by the woman in
connection with whose marriage it was given and used by her in
her matrimonial house when the appellants 2 to 6 have been
residing separately in Vizianagaram, it cannot be said that the
dowry was given to them and that they were duty bound to return
the same to Syamala Rani. Facts and circumstances of the case
and also the uncontroverted allegations made in the complaint do
not constitute an offence under Section 6 of the Dowry Prohibition
Act against appellants 2 to 6 and there is no sufficient ground for

proceeding against the appellants 2 to 6. Be it noted that
appellants 2 to 6 are also facing criminal prosecution for the
offence under Sections 498A, 304B IPC and under Sections 3 and 4
of the Dowry Prohibition Act. Even though the criminal proceeding
under Section 6 of the Dowry Prohibition Act is independent of the
criminal prosecution under Sections 3 and 4 of Dowry Prohibition
Act, in the absence of specific allegations of entrustment of the
dowry amount and articles to appellants 2 to 6, in our view,
continuation of the criminal proceeding against appellants 2 to 6 is
not just and proper and the same is liable to be quashed.
14. The impugned order in Criminal Petition No.1778 of
2010 is set aside qua the appellants 2 to 6 and the appeal is partly
allowed.
…………………….…CJI.
 (T.S. THAKUR)
………………………….J.
(A.K. SIKRI)
 ..………………………..J.
 (R. BANUMATHI)
New Delhi;
January 19, 2016

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