Gajra Vs. State of NCT of Delhi  INSC 501 (8 July 2010)
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION CRIMINAL APPEAL
NOS. 1182-1184 OF 2010 (Arising out of SLP (Crl) 6091-6093 of 2009) Vijeta
Gajra ... Appellant Versus State of NCT Of Delhi ... Respondent
The appellant herein challenges the order passed by the High Court
whereby the petition filed by her was dismissed. The said petition was filed
under Article 226 of the Constitution of India read with Section 482 of the
Criminal Procedure Code for quashing the 2 FIR No. 138/08 dated 07.08.2008 for
offences under Section 498A and 406, Indian Penal Code in the Chitranjan Park
This FIR was lodged by one Gunjan Sujanani, wife of one Rohit
Sujanani. It is a long document wherein the complainant Gunjan Sujanani stated
about her marriage with Rohit on 08.07.2003 and he being a resident of Nigeria.
It was claimed that before the marriage, Rohit had introduced Gunjan to one Mr.
Sham and Mrs. Lavina Daswani as his foster parents and also said that he had
two foster sisters, namely, Vijeta Daswani (Vijeta Gajra-the appellant herein)
who is a resident of Indore, Madhya Pradesh and the other being one Ms. Ritika
Daswani, who resided with her mother in London. There are allegations made about
the demand of dowry against the husband as also Mrs. Lavina Daswani. The demand
included diamond neckless for Vijeta Daswani/Gajra. There was reference to
subsequent behaviour of troubling the complainant on account of the dowry
demands. The First Information Report also made some allegations regarding the
relations of her husband Rohit Sujanani with Mrs. Lavina Daswani and Vijeta
Daswani/Gajra, the present appellant. It was then contended that in December,
2003, when the complainant had gone to Sierra Leone, Vijeta Dasawani/Gajra took
3 away her diamond encrusted heavy gold pendant and chain and earring set on
the pretext that she wanted to wear them once and she would keep them at a safe
place in her father's house. The complainant also stated that she did not
return these ornaments.
it was stated that in May, 2004, Mr. Rohit Sujanani and Mrs. Lavina Daswani
insisted that the complainant should keep her jewellery in London and claimed
that she was slapped by her husband on her refusal. It was further claimed that
in November, 2004, the present appellant, Vijeta Gajra got married during which
the complainant had to beg for her ornaments for attending the marriage.
a reference in the FIR to the misbehaviour on the part of Mrs. Lavina Daswani
towards her and again the name of the present appellant figured therein. At
this time, the complainant claimed that she was pregnant for the first time and
yet she was given physical and mental ill treatment because of which she had a
a reference to the sexual behaviour of her husband with reference to a
pornographic website. It was claimed that the complainant delivered a baby on
08.03.2007. Then there is reference to the appellant visiting and staying with
the complainant's parents for three days and the allegation that her husband
was having sexual 4 relations with Vijeta Gajra, the appellant herein and
Mrs.Lavina Daswani. There was a reference that during her stay the appellant
was wearing the diamond encrusted pendant and gold chain and earring set which
she had taken (practically stolen) in Sierra Leone.
In the last part of this lengthy FIR, there was a reference to the
demand of two crores of rupees having been made by Vijeta and her mother over
the phone to the complainant as a cost of peace and marital happiness. There
was a reference to a telephonic conversation with Mrs. Lavina Daswani in this
regard. There was a further reference to an ugly scene on account of arguments.
there was also a reference to the presence of the brother of the complainant on
account of which further ugly scenes were avoided. It was complained that,
thereafter, the complainant and her parents tried to contact Rohit Sujanani and
the Daswanis who were avoiding them and not returning jewellery which was with
Vijeta Gajra, Lavina Daswani and Rohit Sujanani.
This complaint dated 15.04.2008 seems to have been registered as
an FIR. It seems that on the basis of this FIR, the appellant was sent a
summons under Section 160, Cr. P.C. and she 5 moved the Court of Additional
Sessions Judge, New Delhi under Section 438 Cr.P.C. for grant of anticipatory
bail. In that application, she had made a reference to the summons asking her
to appear on 05.06.2008. It was claimed in the application that the
complainant's husband Rohit Sujanani was an employee of appellant's father who
has business in Sierra Leone and that he was employed on contract basis for the
period of three years in 1994. It was claimed in that application that the
appellant had met the complainant last in 2007. It was also stated that the
allegations made in the FIR were concocted, false and baseless and she had no
connection whatsoever with the family of the complainant or her parents. She
complained that her own marriage was being tried to be destroyed by wild
a reference made in this application by the appellant for quashing the summons
arising out of the complaint dated 15.04.2008 and also to a Criminal
Miscellaneous Petition No. 2153 of 2008. The High Court had passed the order
disposing it of since the State's Counsel had agreed to provide copy of the
complaint and had further stated that in the event the FIR was registered, the
applicant would be informed of this fact and no coercive action would be taken
against her till then. In her application there was a statement that she 6 did
not even belong to the family of the complainant, her husband or any of their
relatives and that all the allegations were palpably false.
then stated that the writ petition was filed which came to be disposed of by
the High Court. It seems that the complainant sought the direction to implead
herself in the writ petition-cum-Section 482 Cr.P.C application filed by the
Following are the prayers in the said writ petition under Article
226 of the Constitution of India read with Section 482, Cr.P.C.:
Quash the FIR NO. 138/2008 dated 07.08.2008 under Sections 498A/406, IPC at
Police Station Chitranjan Park registered against the petitioner;
the police not to take any coercive action against the petitioner in respect of
the above said complaint:
such other and further orders which may be deemed fit and proper in the facts
and circumstances of the case."
It is on
this backdrop that we have to see as to whether it would be expedient to
continue the criminal prosecution against the appellant.
Shri U.U. Lalit, Learned Senior Counsel, appearing on behalf of
the appellant argued that in U. Suvetha v. State By Inspector of Police &
Anr. [(2009) 6 SCC 757], it was specifically held that in order to be covered
under Section 498A, IPC one has to be a `relative' of the husband by blood,
marriage or adoption. He pointed out that the present appellant was not in any
manner a `relative' as referred to in Section 498A, IPC and, therefore, there
is no question of any allegation against her in respect of the ill-treatment of
the complainant. The Court in this case examined the ingredients of Section
498A, IPC and noting the specific language of the Section and the Explanation
thereof came to the conclusion that the word `relative' would not include a
paramour or concubine or so. Relying on the dictionary meaning of the word
`relative' and further relying on R. Ramanatha Aiyar's Advance Law Lexicon, Volume
4, 3rd Edition, the Court went on to hold that Section 498A, IPC being a penal
provision would deserve strict construction and unless a contextual meaning is
required to be given to the statute, the said statute has to be construed
strictly. On that behalf the Court relied on the judgment in T. Ashok Pai v.
CIT [(2007) 7 SCC 162]. A reference was made to the decision in Shivcharan Lal
Verma & Anr. v. State of M.P.
15 SCC 369]. After quoting from various decisions of this Court, it was held that
reference to the word `relative' in Section 498A, IPC would be limited only to
the blood relations or the relations by marriage.
Relying heavily on this, Shri Lalit contended that there is no
question of any trial of the appellant for the offence under Section 498A, IPC.
The argument is undoubtedly correct, though opposed by the Learned Counsel
appearing for the State. We are of the opinion that there will be no question
of her prosecution under Section 498A, IPC. Learned Senior Counsel appearing on
behalf of the complainant, Shri Soli J. Sorabjee, also did not seriously
dispute this proposition. Therefore, we hold that the FIR insofar as it
concerned Section 498A, IPC, would be of no consequence and the appellant shall
not be tried for the offence under Section 498A, IPC.
That leaves us with the allegation under Section 406, IPC for the
offence of criminal breach of trust as there are allegations in respect of the
jewellery. We desist from saying anything at this juncture. We also desist from
going into the correctness or otherwise of these allegations as they will have
to be proved by evidence. Shri 9 Lalit pointed out that on the face of it the
allegations are wild and baseless as the appellant herself comes from a wealthy
background and is a married lady having settled down in Indore and is also
mother of a child. He pointed that the FIR is calculated to destroy her marital
life with the wildest possible allegations and, therefore, we should quash the
entire FIR as not being bona fide and actuated by malice.
There can be no doubt that the allegations made are extremely wild
and disgusting. However, how far those allegations can be used to meet the
requirements for the offence under Section 406, IPC is a moot question. For
obvious reasons, we will not go into that exercise.
the form in which the allegations under Section 406, IPC are made, the fact of
the matter is that there is an FIR and the Court concerned has taken cognizance
thereof. Under these circumstances, we would only protect the interest of the
appellant by directing that she would not be required to attend the proceedings
unless specifically directed by the Court to do so and that too in the case of
extreme necessity. Similarly, no coercive step shall be taken against her. She
shall be granted bail by the Court trying the case if it 1 decides to try the
offence by framing the charge. We expect the Court to be careful while
considering the framing of charge.
We, therefore, hold that the appellant shall not be tried for
offence under Section 498A, IPC. However, we desist from quashing the FIR
altogether in view of the allegations made under Section 406, IPC with the
protection that we have granted to the appellant. With these observations, the
appeals are disposed of.
...............................J. [V.S. Sirpurkar]
................................J. [Cyriac Joseph]
July 8, 2010.