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The Karnataka High Court said that in matrimonial disputes, family members named without allegations of active involvement cannot be proceeded against on casual reference, quashing proceedings against the sister-in-law, brother-in-law and mother-in-law of a woman who have lodged a harassment complaint. The court further said that proceedings against the husband will go on.
"When the contents of the FIR and complaint are perused, it is apparent that there are no specific allegations that these petitioners have directly caused harassment to the complainant to get dowry and gold ornaments. Almost all allegations are against the accused No.1 viz., the husband of the complainant. Thus, mere casual reference of the names of the family members in a matrimonial dispute without allegation of active involvement in the matter would not justify taking cognizance against them overlooking the fact borne out of experience that there is a tendency of involve the entire family members of the household in the domestic quarrel taking place in the matrimonial dispute........"
The complainant filed a private complaint before the Addl. Civil Judge and Judicial Magistrate, Udupi, against the accused persons for offenses punishable under Sections 384, 498A, 504 and 506 read with 34 of Indian Penal Code and Sections 3 and 4 of Dowry Prohibition Act.
The court observed that there was a tendency to involve all family members of a household in matrimonial disputes. Mere casual reference of names of family members in a matrimonial dispute without allegation of active involvement in the matter, would not justify taking cognizance against them.