In rare cases defence material can be considered by court while framing...

In rare cases defence material can be considered by court while framing charges or taking cognizance

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Relying upon the decision of the Supreme Court in the case of Rukmini Narvekar v. Vijaya Satardekar, (2008) 14 SCC 1, the Madhya Pradesh high court has reiterated that while it is true that ordinarily defence material cannot be looked into by the court while framing of the charge in view of State of Orissa v. Debendra Nath Padhi, (2005) 1 SCC 568 : 2005 SCC (Cri) 415, there may be some very rare and exceptional cases where some defence material when shown to the trial court would convincingly demonstrate that the prosecution version is totally absurd or preposterous, and in such very rare cases the defence material can be looked into by the court at the time of framing of the charges or taking cognizance. These observations of the M.P. high court (Gwalior bench) were made in the case of Kunaldev Singh Rathor and others Versus State of MP and another [Misc. Criminal Case No 2360/2014; decided on 2 December 2016] by a single-judge bench comprising Justice S.K. Awasthi. Full judgment of the court is reproduced below.

In the present case, the Applicants had filed an application under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 seeking quashing of FIR bearing Crime No.614/2013 dated 18.12.2013, and also the quashing of Criminal Case No.183/2014 arising therefrom, for commission of offences punishable under Sections 323, 294, 498-A and 506 of the Indian Penal Code (‘IPC’) registered at police Station Kotwali District Bhind (M.P.). This FIR had been filed by respondent No. 1 who is the wife of applicant No. 1 and who had stated that the applicants were harassing her since the date of marriage for demand of Indica Car and that one day she was thrown out of the matrimonial home along with her son.

The high court held that the plain reading of the complaint submitted by wife, which had been reproduced in the FIR dated 18.12.2013, goes to show that the allegations relating to commission of offence punishable under Section 498-A of IPC are omnibus and do not refer to any specific act of the applicants. According to the complaint, the wife was subjected to cruelty due to non-fulfillment of demand of Indica Car in dowry by the applicants. The marriage was solemnized on 21.11.2007, although the complaint is silent about the fact as to when she left the matrimonial house. Further, with respect to this allegation, the applicants have brought on record the registration certificate issued by transport department on 10.1.2008 with respect to Indica Car. Moreover, the documents reflecting TATA Sumo in the name of applicant No.2 and other four-wheeler have also been brought on record. On cumulative consideration of these circumstances, it is revealed that the accusations regarding cruelty and harassment for demand of Indica Car are absurd and improbable.

The high court held that the documents tantamount to material filed by the applicants in their defence and defence material at a preliminary stage in a criminal prosecution, such documents cannot be made basis for taking any decision; however, as held by Supreme Court in Rukmini Narvekar v. Vijaya Satardekar, (2008) 14 SCC 1, there may be some very rare and exceptional cases where some defence material when shown to the trial court would convincingly demonstrate that the prosecution version is totally absurd or preposterous, and in such very rare cases the defence material can be looked into by the court at the time of framing of the charges or taking cognizance.

The high court held that accordingly, the documents referred to by the applicants with regard to vehicles owned by them can be looked into even at such preliminary stage. Furthermore, the offence under Section 294 of the IPC was held to be not made out as the incident had taken place within the house of the complainant-wife.

In view of these reasons, the application under Section 482 Cr.P.C. was partly allowed and the FIR and the consequent proceedings so far as they relate to the offences punishable under Sections 498-A and 294 of the IPC were quashed. However, it was directed that with regard to remaining offences, the proceedings shall continue.

Read full order of the court:

 

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