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Offences pertaining to demand for dowry are offences against society: Supreme Court

Shruti Mahajan

The Supreme Court on Monday observed that offences pertaining to demand of dowry are not private offences, but offences against the society in the case of Arun Singh and Ors vs State of UP.

The Bench of Justices Navin Sinha and Krishna Murari made the observation while dealing with an appeal filed by the accused/appellants who had assailed a decision of the Allahabad High Court, whereby the High Court had refused to quash the FIR filed against the accused.

Offences pertaining to demand for dowry are offences against society: Supreme Court

The appellant was charged under Section 493 of the Indian Penal Code which deals with cohabitation caused by a man deceitfully inducing a belief of lawful marriage, read with Sections 3 and 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act pertaining to demands made for dowry.

Aggrieved by the proceedings, the accused moved a plea in the High Court under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) to quash the chargesheet. The High Court, however, rejected the plea by the appellant, finding that there was no justification for allowing the plea.

When the matter reached the Supreme Court, the Division Bench observed that while the offences that the appellant is charged with are non-compoundable, the inherent power that the High Court has to quash a chargesheet in such offences is well settled through various precedents.

All the same, the Court added that the High Court in this case was justified in refusing to quash the chargesheet against the appellants, given that it is well-settled that in case of offences against the society, it would be in the interest of the society if the offender is punished.

Offences for which the appellants have been charged are in fact offences against society and not private in nature. Such offences have serious impact upon society and continuance of trial of such cases is founded on the overridding effect of public interests in punishing persons for such serious offences.
Supreme Court in Arun Singh and Ors vs State of UP

Delving into the merits of the instant case, the Court noted that as far as the allegations under Section 493 of the IPC are concerned, there is no prima facie case made out to believe that a cognizable offence may have been committed. Therefore, as regards this Section alone, the Court set aside the decision of the High Court.

However, as far as the offences pertaining to dowry were concerned, the Court opined that there is prima facie case against the appellants under Sections of the Dowry Prohibition Act. Therefore, the Court affirmed the decision of the High Court and dismissed the appeal.

[Read Judgment]

Arun Singh vs State of UP.pdf
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