The Bombay High Court Aurangabad Bench observed that right to reputation and dignity of an individual was held to be an integrated part of Articles 21 and 19(2) of the Constitution and quashed the FIR lodged against the judicial officer for cruelty.

The Bench of Justice Anuja Prabhudessai and Justice R M Joshi quoted Shakespeare to highlight the importance of reputation and said that “It is to be noted that loss of character or bruised reputation cannot be restored even by judicial reprieve. Good name in man and woman, dear my lord, is the immediate jewel of their souls: Who steals my purse steals trash; ’tis something, nothing; ’twas mine, ’tis his, and has been slave to thousands: But he that filches from me my good name Robs me of that which not enriches him and makes me poor indeed.”

The Bench observed that unfounded criminal charges and long drawn criminal prosecution can have serious consequences and said “Reckless imputations can result in serous repercussion on career progression and future pursuits and most importantly it stigmatizes reputation, brings disrepute and lowers the image of a person amongst friends, family and colleagues.”

In this case, FIR was filed for offences punishable under Sections 498A, 323, 504, 406, 506 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) and Section 3 of the Dowry Prohibition Act against a woman judicial officer and against her brother (complainant’s husband) and her parents (complainant’s in-laws). It was alleged that they had subjected the complainant/respondent to physical and mental cruelty.

Advocate A.R. Devkate appeared for the applicant, APP P.G. Borade appeared for the respondent.

It was alleged by the complainant that the applicant told her not to raise her voice against her parents and that the applicant had phoned her brother and suggested him to give divorce to the complainant. it was also alleged being the judicial officer should have intervened the dispute between her and her husband impartially rather than being biased, supporting her brother and blaming her.

The Court observed that the FIR prima facie revealed that there was a rift in marital ties between the complainant/respondent and her husband and that the applicant had been dragged into it.

Relying upon the decision of Apex Court in the case of State of Haryana and others vs. Bhajan Lal and others, AIR 1992 Supreme Court Cases 335, the Court observed that the allegations which were levelled against the applicant, if were taken on face value and were accepted in their entirety, did not constitute any offence which justified investigation against the applicant.

The Court further said that it was imperative for the Court to exercise its power under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, in fit cases, to safeguard and protect the rights of every person subjected to such litigation and prevent misuse of criminal process for personal vendetta.

Therefore, the Court said that the family of the husband had been implicated in proceedings under Section 498A as an instrument to settle personal score with the husband and further observed that "the unfounded proceedings, qua the applicant, need to be quashed to prevent the abuse of the process of the Court, to protect the right of the applicant and thus to secure the ends of justice."

Accordingly, FIR registered against the applicant was quashed and set aside.

Cause Title- Smt. Vrushali Jayesh Kore v. The State of Maharashtra

Click here to read/download the Judgment