Stopping the Abuse of Laws
Married Woman Can’t Claim She Was Cheated By A Man By Breaching Promise Of Marriage: Karnataka High Court
While laying down in no unmistakable terms the clear red lines which a married woman can’t cross and claim to be cheated by a man by breaching promise of marriage, the Karnataka High Court in a most learned, laudable, landmark and latest judgment titled Prajith R vs XXX & Anr in Criminal Petition No. 544 of 2021 and cited in 2023 LiveLaw (Kar) 232 that was heard and reserved for orders on 06.06.2023 and then finally pronounced as recently as on June 16, 2023 has quashed the FIR lodged against a man by a married woman, complaining that she was cheated by the man as he failed to keep his promise of marriage to her. It must be noted that a Single Judge Bench of Hon’ble Mr Justice M Nagaprasanna allowed the man’s quashing plea and expounded that, “Cheating is alleged on the ground that the petitioner has breached the promise of marriage. The complainant admits that she is already married and has a child from the wedlock. If she is already married, there can be no question of cheating on the breach of promise of marriage. Therefore, the said offence also cannot be laid against the petitioner.” Accordingly, we thus see that the Court quashed the complaint. Very rightly so!
At the very outset, this robust, rational, remarkable and recent judgment authored by the Single Judge Bench comprising of Hon’ble Mr Justice M Nagaprasanna of the Karnataka High Court at Bengaluru sets the ball in motion by first and foremost putting forth in para 1 that, “The petitioner is before this Court calling in question registration of a crime in Crime No.158 of 2020 for offences punishable under Sections 498A, 504, 507 and 417 of the IPC.”
To put things in perspective, the Bench envisages in para 3 that, “Brief facts that lead the petitioner to this Court in the subject petition, as borne out from the pleadings, are as follows:-
The 1st respondent is the complainant. The petitioner is the sole accused. The complainant seeks to register a complaint on 10-11-2020 making certain allegations against the petitioner. The complainant alleges that she is married to one Jagadish and at the stage when the complainant was carrying and was at the 8th month stage, her husband had dropped the complainant in her parents’ house at Arakalgud of Hassan District. After two years, the husband comes back to her matrimonial house and gets the complainant and her daughter back to Bangalore. In the complaint it is further alleged that the husband stayed along with her for about six months and then did not return to the house for some time. Therefore, the complainant had to obtain employment at Mariko Marketing Company.”
As it turned out, the Bench then enunciates in para 4 that, “In the place of employment, the petitioner comes in contact with her and it is alleged that the petitioner assured that he would marry the complainant. It is further alleged in the complaint that the complainant informed the petitioner that she was five years older to him. However, it is said that the complainant was lured into a relationship with the petitioner on the assurance of marriage. When the petitioner did not keep up his assurance of marriage, the complainant registered a complaint before the jurisdictional Police on 10.11.2020 alleging offences punishable under Sections 498A, 504, 507 and 417 of the IPC. The registration of crime is what leads the petitioner to this Court in the subject petition.”
Needless to say, the Bench states in para 7 that, “I have given my anxious consideration to the submissions made by the respective learned counsel and have perused the material on record.”
As we see, the Bench points out in para 8 that, “The afore-narrated facts are a matter of record. The entire issue now springs from the complaint. Therefore, I deem it appropriate to notice the complaint. The complaint narrates that the petitioner and the complainant had come in contact with each other and the complainant claims that the petitioner had assured that he would marry her notwithstanding the fact that she was 5 years older and a married woman having a child. It further narrates that two years ago i.e., two years prior to the complaint, the petitioner whom the complainant claims to be her husband, was in Malaysia and for two years every month for the purpose of living he used to send money. Therefore, he is of the traits of being a husband. Later he stopped answering calls of the complainant.”
Be it noted, the Bench notes in para 9 that, “There is no document produced to demonstrate that the petitioner at any time was her husband nor there is evidentiary narration in the complaint. In fact, the petitioner has produced certain documents which would clearly demonstrate that one Jagadish was the husband of the complainant. This would become amply clear by the objections filed by the 1st respondent. Paragraph-7 of the objections reads as follows:
7. “The averments made in para 10 of the petitioner that respondent is a married lady and a girl of age 20 years from 1st wedlock with Mr. Jagadish is true. The rest of the allegations in same para 10 are hereby denied as false and the petitioner is put to strict proof of the same. However, only up to January 2020, the petitioner sent some amount to the respondent.”
In reply to the averments that the 1st respondent was already a married lady and having daughter of 20 years of age, it is answered that it is true and the wed lock had happened with Mr.Jagadish. It further narrates that upto January 2020 the petitioner had sent some amount to the complainant. The 1st respondent/complainant has also averred that the petitioner had married another woman in Malaysia and, therefore, the complainant had to file a petition in M.C. No. 582 of 2021 seeking restitution of conjugal rights, and it is claimed that it is the duty of the petitioner to maintain the complainant and her daughter.”
Most forthrightly, the Bench propounds in para 10 that, “In the teeth of the aforesaid facts whether the offences alleged can be permitted to be investigated into. The offence alleged is one punishable under Section 498A of the IPC. There is not even a document to demonstrate that the petitioner and the 1st respondent are married. It is in fact admitted by the complainant that she is already married to one Sri. Jagadish and has a child born from the said wedlock. If she is already married to Sri. Jagadish it is highly un-understandable as to how the present petitioner can be claimed to be her husband. The objections of the complainant does not narrate that she has secured a decree of divorce from the earlier husband Sri. Jagadish. When the said marriage is still subsisting, it can hardly be said that the petitioner is her husband and the complainant and her daughter need to be maintained. Merely because the petitioner has sent some money some time for the need of the complainant, it cannot be said that the petitioner has to maintain them without a legal bond between the complainant and the petitioner. Therefore, the offence under Section 498A of the IPC which deals with dowry harassment and cruelty is loosely laid against the petitioner.”
Most significantly, the Bench mandates in para 11 that, “The other offence punishable is under Section 417 of the IPC which deals with cheating. Cheating is alleged on the ground that the petitioner has breached the promise of marriage. The complainant admits that she is already married to Sri. Jagadish and has a child from the wedlock. If she is already married, there can be no question of cheating on the breach of promise of marriage. Therefore, the said offence also cannot be laid against the petitioner.”
Do note, the Bench notes in para 12 that, “Section 504 of the IPC deals with intentional insult with an intent to provoke breach of peace. I fail to understand, in the facts of the case, how could such an offence even be thought of as the provision relates to provocation which is going to cause or break public peace.”
It is worth noting that the Bench notes specifically in para 13 stating that, “The other offence is under Section 507 of the IPC. Section 507 deals with criminal intimidation by an anonymous communication. There is no anonymous communication in the case at hand made by the petitioner. The complainant appears to be twining a story to get hold of the petitioner which, in the considered view of this court, if permitted would become an abuse of the process of law and result in miscarriage of justice.”
Finally, the Bench then concludes by holding in para 14 that, “For the aforesaid reasons, I pass the following:
O R D E R
(i) Criminal Petition is allowed.
(ii) FIR registered by the Bannerghatta Police Station in Crime No.158 of 2020 and pending before the Additional Civil Judge (Junior Division) and JMFC, Anekal, Bangalore Rural District stands quashed.
(iii) It is made clear that the observations made in the course of the order are only for the purpose of consideration of the case of the petitioner under Section 482 of Cr.P.C. and the same shall not bind or influence proceedings pending between the parties.
Consequently, I.A.No.1 of 2022 stands disposed.”
All told, we thus see quite discernibly that the Karnataka High Court has been most forthright in holding unequivocally that a married woman can’t claim that she was cheated by a man by breaching the promise of marriage. The Bench also very rightly made it absolutely clear that if a woman is already married, then there can definitely be no question of cheating on the breach of promise of marriage. So it was but natural that the Karnataka High Court quash the complaint and it was done so accordingly. There can definitely be just no denying or disputing it!