04 Dec 2020

Inducing a person to part with cash and valuable security on the false pretext of getting married amounts to an offence under Section 420 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 - Bombay High Court

Case : Sanjay Dhondu Manchekar v. State of Maharashtra Criminal Appeal No. 192 of 2010

Court :

Bench : Justice A. S. Gadkari

Decided on : 04 Dec 2020

Relevant Statutes

Section 376, 420 and 506 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860

Section 428 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973

Brief Facts and Procedural History:

1. The complainant’s (PW-1) husband expired due to a heart attack at the marriage ceremony itself, in December 1998. She was not willing to marry for a second time. The brother of her brother-in-law introduced the complainant to the appellant. The appellant told the complainant that, he would try to get her a good job. The complainant and the appellant eventually got into a relationship. The appellant established physical relations with her on the pretext of marrying her. Besides this, the appellant during the period of their affair from the year 2004 to 2008, feigning various reasons induced the complainant to part with cash amount and valuable property (gold chain) of approximately ₹4,61,650/-. The appellant subsequently resiled from his promise to marry the complainant and therefore, their relations got strained.

2. In a meeting arranged by a social worker Mohan M. Sonawane (PW-3), the appellant executed a Deed of Guarantee coupled with a Memo of Acceptance of Liability which was not honoured by him. It was also found that he had married another woman.

3. Additional Sessions Judge in the trial convicted the appellant under Section 420 and acquitted the appellant for the offence punishable under Sections 376 and 506 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.

4. Appellant challenged the decision of conviction in appeal.

The Issue of the case:

Whether an offence under Section 420 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 has been made out against the appellant and if it is made out, then what should be the quantum of punishment on that behalf?

The Observations of the Court

1. The statements of the prosecutrix, coupled with the fact of proving of execution of Deed of Guarantee coupled with a Memo of Acceptance of Liability went unchallenged.

2. The testimonies of Mohan M. Sonawane (PW-3), Anand A. Jadhav (PW-5), and Ganpat @ Balu Manchekar (DW-1) proved that the appellant was not pressurized to execute the said two documents.

3. The record extract of the Register of Vishal Sahyadri Co-operative Credit Society and pre-litigation notices issued by the said credit society to the complainant, calling upon the complainant to repay the loan amount corroborated that, the complainant had availed loan from the said credit society for making payment to the appellant.

4. It was concluded that the prosecution proved beyond reasonable doubt that, the appellant by taking undue advantage of the situation, from time to time, induced the complainant to part with the said amount and a gold chain for his benefit and did not return the same and deceived the complainant. The inducement by the appellant to the complainant to part with the said amount and its utilisation for his benefit establishes the commission of an offence under Section 420 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.

5. The settled position of law avers that the sentence awarded to the accused should be commensurate to the nature of the offence and how it was committed. The sentence is necessary to be adequate, just and proportionate with the gravity and nature of the crime. The mitigating and aggravating circumstances are required to be taken into consideration while awarding a sentence.

6. In the present case, Trial Court imposed a sentence of five years of rigorous imprisonment with a fine of ₹10,000/- on the appellant. The appellant after conviction lost his job from Bharat Petroleum Company, Mumbai. He has children and has been leading a miserable life for want of a job. Taking this into consideration, the High Court reduced the sentence of 5 years of rigorous imprisonment to 3 years of rigorous imprisonment and maintained the fine amount.

The Decision Held by the Court

The Honourable High Court partly allowed the appeal and held that:

1. The conviction of the appellant under Section 420 of the Indian Penal Code was upheld and the appellant is sentenced to suffer rigorous imprisonment for 3 years and a fine of ₹10,000/-; in default of payment of fine to further suffer simple imprisonment for 6 months.

2. The appellant would get the benefit from the period of imprisonment already undergone, while computing the sentence as contemplated under Section 428 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

3. The appellant was directed to surrender before the Trial Court for undergoing a balance sentence within four weeks from the day of pronouncement of judgement.

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