Published on: 29 August 2023 at 11:26 IST
The Kerala High Court has granted the request to quash a 2011 FIR under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) against a petitioner who was an ex-husband. Despite the ex-wife’s attempt to withdraw the FIR after settling the divorce proceedings, the FIR had remained active for over twelve years.
Justice K. Babu, who presided over the bench, stressed the importance of prompt investigations and trials as mandated by the legal provisions and constitutional protection found in Article 21.
The court further highlighted that allowing the continuation of criminal prosecution based on FIR No.865/2011, which commenced twelve years ago without any progress, would not serve any useful purpose.
The court deemed the potential for a successful conviction to be remote and considered the ongoing prosecution an abuse of the legal process.
The case stemmed from a complaint filed by Respondent No.4 against the petitioner and others in June 2011. However, due to ongoing differences, the couple opted for a divorce after mediation in August 2014.
The petitioner fulfilled financial obligations to Respondent No.4 and their child. Respondent No.4 sought to close the case after their settlement, but the case file had already been sent to the Superintendent of Police as the incident had occurred within the jurisdiction of Mundgod Police Station in Karnataka. The petitioner, who had been listed as an accused in the FIR under Sections 498A and 34 of the IPC, petitioned the High Court to quash all related proceedings.
Justice K. Babu invoked Article 21, which ensures the right to life and liberty, to underscore the necessity of reasonable, fair, and just legal processes.
The court referenced several Supreme Court cases, including Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India, Hussainara Khatoon and Others v. Home Secretary, State of Bihar, and Abdul Rehman Antulay and Others v. R.S. Nayak and Another, to support its stance that a right to a speedy trial is an integral aspect of Article 21.
Additionally, the court relied on the precedent set by the Supreme Court in the case of P. Ramachandra Rao v. State of Karnataka, emphasizing that lengthy delays in legal proceedings can create immense stress and burden for the accused.
The court affirmed that the right to a speedy trial is essential for fair and just legal procedures, ensuring the accused’s ability to present an effective defense without impairment.
Ultimately, the Kerala High Court granted the petitioner’s request, quashing all proceedings related to the FIR and highlighting the importance of timely justice.