The Orissa High Court has observed that criminal proceedings under Section 498A IPC cannot be quashed on the ground of no valid marriage is basis elements are present.

The Court refused to allow a plea to quash the Trial Court's order of taking cognizance against the husband under Section 498A IPC on the ground that there was no valid marriage while deciding an application, filed before the Family Court, for maintenance under Section 125 CrPC.

The bench of Justice G. Satapathy observed that the proceedings u/s 498A IPC cannot be quashed by High Court in exercise of power of Inherent Jurisdiction when uncontroverted allegations appear in the FIR and said that "Law is well settled that a criminal proceeding can be quashed where the basic ingredients of the offences are not constituted/disclosed from a bare reading of the uncontroverted allegations appearing FIR and other materials so collected by the Investigating Agency."

In this case, an application under section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code has been filed by the petitioner(husband) seeking to quash the order passed by the SDJM wherein cognizance was taken against the petitioner for committing offence under section 498A /323/506/34 IPC r/w 4 of D.P. Act.

Proceedings under section 125 CrPC for grant of maintenance were initiated by the respondent (wife), wherein the family Court concluded that the marriage was an invalid one and therefore, the respondent could not be termed as the 'wife' of the petitioner.

The issue dealt with by the Court was-

Whether the order taking cognisance of offence under section 498A IPC is bad in law on account of finding of Family Court that there exists no husband- wife relationship between the petitioner (husband) and the respondent (wife).

Advocate Anirudha Das appeared on behalf of the Petitioner (husband) and submitted that by the judgment passed by the Family Court it was already established that the respondent was not the legally wedded wife of the petitioner and that to attract an offence under section 498A of IPC, there must be a legal relationship of husband and wife.

Advocate S.N. Das appeared on behalf of the State and relied upon the decision of Supreme Court in the case of A.Subash Babu Vrs. State of Andhra Pradesh and another; (2011) 7 SCC 616 and submitted that the law declared in Reema Aggrawal Vrs. Anupam and another; (2004) 3 SCC 199 is binding on all Courts and the Petitioner being the husband of the respondent cannot take the plea that the marriage was invalid and thereby the criminal proceeding for offence under section 498(A) IPC is misdirected.

The Court also observed that the case is at the stage of cognizance and issuing of process and trial is yet to be conducted. However, the materials on record, FIR, statement of witnesses disclosed about marriage between the petitioner and the respondent but the same is needed to be established during the Trial and "it would not be proper to come to a conclusion that the O.P No. 2 is not the wife of the Petitioner merely on the basis of finding of the Family Court which is also rendered in a proceeding under section 125 of Cr.P.C. which is by nature a proceeding for grant of maintenance to wife, children and parents, but strict proof of marriage between the parties in a proceeding under section 125 of Cr.P.C. normally should not be insisted upon as a condition precedent for grant of maintenance to the wife."

The Court also observed that the finding of the Family Court that the respondent was not the wife of the petitioner, could not have been arrived at in a proceeding u/s 125 Cr.P.C but such status of women could be declared in a Civil proceeding. "Family Court herein at best could have concluded while refusing to grant maintenance by his judgment that the Petitioner could not establish her relationship with O.P. as husband and wife." added the Court.

The Court while analysing the jurisprudential essence of Section 498A of IPC, expressed that Section 498A IPC was enacted to secure the prevention of harassment to a woman from cruelty meted out to her by husband or his relatives. So, a person entering into a marital relationship cannot be allowed to take a plea that since there was no valid marriage the proceeding under section 498A of IPC against him is not maintainable, "but such plea having deleterious effect on the morality of the women entering into a kind of relationship of marriage with that person, it would not be proper for a Court to undertake hair splitting scrutiny of materials on record in a proceeding under section 482 of Cr.P.C. to conclude that the proceeding under section 498-A of IPC is not maintainable for want of valid marriage which would not only encourage harassment of women but also demoralizes them."

The Court observed that "there appeared prima facie materials for proceeding against the Petitioner for offences alleged against him and that the S.D.J.M had not committed any illegality in taking cognisance of offences by the impugned order and the same cannot be interfered by this Court in exercise of power of inherent jurisdiction as the same has been passed on proper legal scrutiny of materials on record."

Accordingly, the Court dismissed this application.

Cause Title- Jaga Sarabu v. State of Orissa & Anr.

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