The Bombay High Court quashed an FIR relating to cruelty filed by a female judicial officer against her husband and family saying that the verbal threat to sign divorce papers is not criminal intimidation under Section 503 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

The Court was deciding a batch of two writ petitions preferred by the husband and his family seeking quashing of the said FIR.

A Division Bench of Justice A.S. Chandurkar and Justice Jitendra Jain held, “The provisions of Section 506 are attracted, if the acts alleged fall within the meaning of the term “criminal intimidation” as defined in Section 503 of the IPC. The threat which is contemplated in Section 503 is a threat with injury to a person, reputation or property with the intention to cause the other person to do any act which is not legally bound to do or to omit to do an act which the other person is legally entitled to do. In the instant case, as recorded and stated in the FIR, there is no act which would result in injury to the Respondent No.2. The verbal threat to sign the divorce papers would certainly not be a case falling under Section 503 of the IPC. Therefore, even on this account, we fail to understand how Section 506 is sought to be invoked in the facts of the present case.”

The Bench said that the FIR is lodged only as a counter blast to the matrimonial dispute between the parties.

Advocate S.R. Nargolkar appeared on behalf of the petitioners while Advocate Sagar Kasar appeared on behalf of the respondents.

Factual Background -

The parties married in 2018 and the husband was working as Provident Fund Commissioner while the wife was a judicial officer. It was alleged in the FIR that after marriage, the husband refused to have a conjugal relationship with her and there were various matrimonial disputes between the parties. The matrimonial dispute seeking decree of divorce was filed by the husband against the wife before the Court of Civil Judge in 2023 and the said divorce matter was pending. It was further alleged that the husband and his brother entered the Chambers of the wife and threatened her to sign mutual consent divorce petition.

Thereafter, she was informed by her peon that her mother-in-law, brother-in-law, and sister-in-law were sitting in her Chambers and hence she tried to explain them that the topic of divorce can be discussed after the court hours. From that incident onwards, thoughts of committing suicide started coming in her mind and she stated that from 2018 till February 2023, she was in regular touch with her husband since both were serving at different places. She also stated that she had celebrated Valentine’s Day in a hotel with him. However, she came to know that her husband was planning to get married to another woman and therefore, insisting on getting divorce.

The High Court in view of the facts and circumstances of the case observed, “Additionally, we may also observe that Respondent No.2 herself is a judicial officer. The incident which is referred to and stated in the FIR is of 7th June 2023, whereas the complaint is made and FIR lodged on 9th July 2023, which is almost after a period of 1 month. The incident on 7th June 2023 has been stated by invoking Section 353 of the IPC. The FIR was lodged on 9th July 2023 which is almost after a month. It is stated that due to seriousness of the matter and as the incident had occurred at the workplace, the Respondent No.2 avoided to give the report. This aspect when considered cumulatively with all other aspects goes to show that the FIR is lodged only as a counter blast to the matrimonial dispute between the Petitioner and the Respondent No.2.”

The Court noted that the wife spent time with her husband on his birthday and on Valentine’s Day and that such facts cannot be lost sight of while exercising powers conferred under Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC). It further said that there does not appear to be any case for continuing the investigation pursuant to the FIR under consideration as the same would amount to an abuse of the process of law.

“In our view, the analysis made by us above would squarely fall within the guidelines laid down in the case of Bhajanlal (supra) for this Court to exercise its jurisdiction under Section 482 of the Cr.P.C., especially clauses (1) and (3). … We agree with the decisions relied upon by the Petitioner in the case of Ramesh Dalal & Anr. Vs. State of Maharashtra (supra) and Vrushali Kore (supra) in support of the Petitioner’s case in Writ Petition No.2763 of 2023, wherein the challenge to the FIR is made by the relatives of the Petitioner in Writ Petition No.2762 of 2023”, it also added.

The Court, therefore, observed that it is a perfect case where it should exercise its jurisdiction to prevent the abuse of the process of court to secure the ends of justice.

Accordingly, the High Court allowed the writ petitions and quashed the FIR against the petitioners.

Cause Title- ABC v. State of Maharashtra & Anr. (Neutral Citation: 2024:BHC-AS:6633-DB)


Petitioners: Advocates S. R. Nargolkar, Arjun Kadam, and Neeta Patil.

Respondents: Advocates Sagar Kasar, Amol Wagh, and Chaitali Bhogle.

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