In an attempt to create a balance between abuse of court process and not to nip the criminal proceedings in the bud, Hon’ble Supreme Court held that “The Court should be careful in proceeding against the distant relatives in crimes pertaining to matrimonial disputes and dowry deaths. The relatives of the husband should not be roped in on the basis of omnibus allegations unless specific instances of their involvement in the crime are made out.”

The fact pattern in K. Subba Rao & Ors. v. State of Telangana Rep. by Its Secretary, Department of home & Ors. a Special Leave Petition filed before the two-judge bench of the Hon’ble Supreme Court are as follows-

Respondent No. 2 (the wife) filed a criminal complaint against Respondent No. 3 (the husband) and the appellants (husband’s maternal uncles) under section 498A, 120B, 420 and 365 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. The allegations made against the appellants were that they assisted Respondent No. 3 (the husband) in inflicting cruelty on Respondent No. 2 as well as conspired to kidnap her son from her custody and send him to the United States of America, where the couple used to reside in their matrimonial home before initiation of dispute between them. The appellants filed a petition before the Hon’ble High Court under section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure praying that the proceedings against them in the aforementioned crime be quashed as there is no proof of their involvement. The petition stood rejected by the Hon’ble High Court.

On perusal of the final report as well as supplementary final report submitted post-investigation, the two-judge bench of the Supreme Court comprising of Hon’ble Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Justice S. A. Bobde opined that prima facie no case is made against the appellant, apart from just a bad statement made by the Respondent No. 2 regarding appellants involvement in the crime. Hence, the appeal stood allowed with an order to quash the criminal proceedings against the appellants.

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Judgment: K. Subba Rao & Ors. v. State of Telangana & Ors.