HC strikes down FIR against PF commissioner, family members | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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HC strikes down FIR against PF commissioner, family members

Feb 11, 2024 07:22 AM IST

The Bombay High Court dismissed criminal proceedings against a provident fund commissioner accused of obstructing his estranged wife from performing her duties. The court ruled that the incidents were related to their matrimonial dispute and did not occur in the courtroom. The wife alleged that her husband pressured her to sign divorce papers. The police had booked the commissioner and his family members under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, but the court found that the FIR did not disclose any of the offences.

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Friday dismissed criminal proceedings initiated against a provident fund commissioner for allegedly obstructing his estranged wife, a judicial officer, from performing her duties by barging into her chamber during work hours and pressuring her to sign divorce papers.

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The division bench of justice AS Chandurkar and justice Jitendra Jain ruled that the incidents, stemming from their genesis in the matrimonial dispute, occurred in the judicial officer’s chamber, not the courtroom.

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“The acts with respect to the matrimonial dispute certainly would not amount to Respondent No.2 (wife) being prevented or deterred from discharging her duty,” the bench said while striking down the criminal proceedings.

The couple, who met on a matrimonial site, got married in February 2018. However, soon cracks appeared in their relationship, which eventually led to divorce proceedings filed by the husband in Navi Mumbai court in April last year.

The wife alleged that her husband, seeking to marry another woman, pressured her to sign divorce papers by mutual consent.

The wife alleged that her husband, seeking to marry another woman, pressured her to sign divorce papers by mutual consent. The FIR in question was lodged on July 9 in Sangli district, where she served as a judicial officer.

In her police complaint, she claimed her husband and his brother barged into her chamber on June 7, 2023, and tried to coerce her to sign consent papers and appear for mutual divorce via video conferencing before the family court. She, however, called her peon and went to the court room.

She added that the same day in the post-lunch sessions when she was already sitting on the dias, her staff informed her that her husband’s brother, mother, and sister had come to her chamber. She said she then rose from the court and retired to her chamber. She said she tried to explain to her in-laws that the topic of divorce could be discussed after court hours, but her mother-in-law and sister-in-law insisted that she should sign the divorce papers then and there and told her that they would not leave her chamber until she signed the papers.

Based on the complaint, the police booked the PF commissioner and his family members under Section 186 (obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions), 342 (wrongful confinement), 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), 498A (husband or his relative subjecting a woman to cruelty) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.

The bench said the FIR did not disclose any ingredients of any of the offences for which the PF commissioner and his family members were booked. As regards the charge of deterring the judicial officer from discharging her duty, the bench said the FIR “nowhere stated that the Petitioner and his brother did not allow” the judicial officer to sit on the Dias and discharge her duties as a judge.

“In the FIR, the only thing which is stated to have occurred on 7th June 2023 is that the petitioner pulled the respondent no.2 and made her sit on a chair to sign the divorce papers,” said the bench. “In the afternoon session, it was only verbal talk in high volume with respect to the signing of divorce papers,” it added.

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