The Supreme Court quashed an FIR lodged by a husband against his wife accusing her of cheating him by forging his signature to obtain child's passport.

The Court observed that every deceitful act is not unlawful, just as not every unlawful act is deceitful.

The Court was deciding an appeal filed against the judgment of the Karnataka High Court by which a criminal revision petition challenging the order of the VI Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate was dismissed.

The two-Judge Bench comprising Justice Surya Kant and Justice Dipankar Datta observed, “It is undeniable that despite the evident discord between the Appellants and Respondent No. 2, resulting in numerous complaints and legal proceedings, the issue at hand has adversely impacted the rights and interests of the minor child. The right to travel abroad is a fundamental right of an individual, albeit not absolute, and subject to established legal procedures. The conduct exhibited by Respondent No. 2 infringes upon the best interests of the minor child, which necessitates the child’s travel abroad for the realisation of opportunities and intrinsic value, aligning with the child’s dignity, as enshrined by the Constitution.”

The Bench referred to the landmark judgments in the cases of Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India and another (1978) 1 SCC 248 and K.S. Puttaswamy v. Union of India, (2019) 1 SCC 1.

Advocate Ranbir Singh Yadav appeared on behalf of the appellants while Senior Advocate Narender Hooda appeared on behalf of the respondents.

Factual Background -

The appellants were the accused in connection with the FIR under Sections 420, 468, 471 read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The appellant no. 1 i.e., the wife and respondent no. 2 i.e., the husband, got married in 2007 and at the time of their marriage, the husband was engaged in a software business in United Kingdom. During this period, the husband assured the wife that post marriage, they would reside together in London and it was the case that he initially refused to take her with him but thereafter, she managed to accompany him. However, soon after, he allegedly abandoned her and forcefully confined her to the residence of her sister-in-law and returned to India.

Subsequently, the wife gave birth to a male child and it was alleged that the husband and his family members did not provide any financial assistance to the wife and minor child. In 2009, the wife sought to obtain a passport for the minor child and then the same was issued and the husband obtained a sponsorship letter from his brother-in-law. However, it was alleged that during the visit to India, the husband subjected the wife to coercion and torture. Hence, a complaint was filed by the wife and having learnt of the same, the husband also filed a complaint alleging that the family members of the wife had forged his signatures on the minor child’s passport application.

The Supreme Court in view of the above facts noted, “In the absence of any new evidence found to substantiate the conclusions drawn by the investigating officer in the supplementary report, a Judicial Magistrate is not compelled to take cognizance, as such a report lacks investigative rigour and fails to satisfy the requisites of Section 173(8) CrPC. What becomes apparent from the facts on record of this case is that the investigating agency acted mechanically, in purported compliance with the Trial Magistrate’s order dated 24.06.2015.”

The Court said that the Trial Magistrate should have approached the complaint with due care and circumspection, recognising that the allegations do not pertain to offences against property or documents related to property marks and instead of wielding judicial authority against the appellants, the Trial Magistrate should have exercised prudence, making at least a cursory effort to discern the actual ‘victim’ or ‘victimiser’. It added that the failure to do so is both fallible and atrocious.

“The sum and substance of the above discussion is that the elementary ingredients of ‘cheating’ and ‘forgery’ are conspicuously missing. Thus, the continuation of the criminal proceedings against the Appellants is nothing but an abuse of the process of law”, it further observed.

The Court, therefore, directed the husband to pay the cost of Rs. 1 lakh to the wife within six weeks.

Accordingly, the Apex Court allowed the appeal, set aside the judgment of the High Court and Trial Magistrate, and quashed the FIR lodged against the appellants.

Cause Title- Mariam Fasihuddin & Anr. v. State by Adugodi Police Station & Anr. (Neutral Citation: 2024 INSC 49)


Appellants: AOR Anzu. K. Varkey, Advocates Mohammad Sharookh and Yogesh Yadav.

Respondents: AOR Sanchit Garga, Advocates R.D. Singh, Mithu Jain, Kunal Rana, Shurya Lamba, and Ratan Singh.

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