Court denies bail to groom who skipped his wedding reception at Awantipora

 A Jammu and Kashmir court recently rejected the bail plea of a man who was arrested for allegedly making dowry demands and not attending his wedding reception held four years after his nikah to the bride. [UT of Jammu and Kashmir V/S Fayaz Ahmad Dar and ors.]

As per a police complaint, the man skipped the event after dowry demands allegedly made by his family were not met by the bride's family.

Additional Special Mobile Magistrate at Awantipora, Shahber Ayaz while denying bail to the groom as well has his father, opined that the case has the potential of tearing the social fabric into pieces.

"The alleged incident has the potential of tearing the social fabric into pieces and stay as a dagger, thrust deep, into the institution of morality. I do not see an iota of cause which can tilt my opinion towards the arrest of the accused being unnecessary specifically in a situation where there is hue and cry in the society and serious chances of law and order problem exist," the judge said.

Brief Facts of the Case;

“The complainant namely Mst.X (name withheld) approached the Police Station Awantipora with the written compliant wherein she had alleged that her Nikah ceremony with the Accused No. 1 namely Fayaz Ahmad Dar had taken place before four years and within these four years she was in contact with the Accused No. 1 because the religious ceremony of Nikah had taken place. And, on the request of the Accused No. 1, the complainant used to meet him and the closeness between the two developed beyond limits because the complainant was in Nikah with the Accused No. 1 and used to believe him her husband and trusted him. And, after the Nikah ceremony we started such things which a husband and wife would do in the marital life. Whereas, the departure ceremony was fixed to be held on 15-16 September, 2023 and on that day complainant's family was informed by the Accused No. 1 and other accused that they will not come for said ceremony unless the dowry amount of Rupees Twenty Lakhs in cash and a car is not given as dowry. Only then would the said ceremony be held. The complainant and her family denied giving the said amount and car as dowry for being poor. Thereafter the accused persons threatened the complainant and her family and left with the words that the groom will not turn up for the ceremony and in this way the Accused No. 1 and other accused persons become greedy, demanded dowry for completion of the marriage ceremony and then intentionally by dishonesty, fraud and cheating did not complete the marriage ceremony.”

As per the police and the bride (complainant), the wedding reception (referred to as the "departure ceremony" in the order) was slated to be held in September 2023 in Kashmir's Awantipora, four years after the nikah between the bride and the groom took place. 

The bride alleged that before the wedding reception was fixed, the groom had persuaded her to have a physical relationship as well since the nikah was over. She used to meet him and also believed him to be her husband, the Court was told.

However, the bride's family was later told on the day of the wedding reception that the groom and his family would not be attending the event unless an amount of ₹20 lakh in cash and a car was not given as dowry.

The bride proceeded to file a police complaint in the matter. The police filed a case accusing the groom and his father of offences under Sections 420 (cheating), and 498-A (cruelty to woman) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and offences under the Dowry Prohibition Act.

The accused persons, however, denied these allegations and asserted that a false complaint had been filed against them. 

They also pointed out that the alleged offences only carried a seven year prison term at most. Hence, they contended that they ought to be released on bail in view of the Supreme Court's guidelines on arrest in the Arnesh Kumar judgment. 

The Court acknowledged that ordinarily, bail is the rule and jail the exception. However, the judge proceeded to conclude that this was an exceptional case where bail could not be granted. 

In this regard, the Court referred to the prosecution's submission that the incident had created hue and cry among the public and that the arrest of the accused had been helpful in maintaining peace in the area. 

"In my opinion, the (Arnesh Kumar) judgment cannot and is not to be treated as a bail order or a magic wand which would be waved at the pleasure of an accused to earn his release on bail," the Court added.

The Court further observed that, "Law of Bails' has to dovetail two conflicting demands, namely, the requirements of the society for being shielded from the hazards of being exposed to the mis-adventures of a person alleged to have committed a crime on one hand and the fundamental canon of criminal jurisprudence viz, the presumption of innocence of an accused till he is found guilty, on the other. In a barbaric society you can hardly ask for bail; in a civilized society you can hardly refuse it" are more than an epigram, subject only to the tests or considerations laid down from time to time by the imprimatur of judicial decision".

The court also observed that the investigation of the case was at its infancy and that more heinous offences could be added against the accused. 

On a related note, the complainant's lawyer had argued that the offence of rape would be attracted in this case since the groom had persuaded the complainant to have physical relations on a "fake promise of marriage."

And finally the court observed that;

“16. In the facts and circumstances of the case, I am of the considered opinion that this is a fit case for invoking exception to the general rule. The personal liberty guaranteed to the accused is undoubtedly a valuable right of the accused person guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution but same can be refused in accordance with the procedure established under law. The right of liberty of an individual needs to be balanced against the interests of whole society and the interests of society is to be preferred over the individual interest.

17. Thus, keeping in mind, the discussion as made above, in my view, it would be improper and premature to admit the applicants/accused persons to bail at this stage in view of the nature of the alleged offences. Therefore, for the aforesaid reasons, this Court is not inclined to grant the concession of bail at this stage. Hence the application is rejected. However it is made clear that the observations made in this order are limited for deciding the instant bail application and shall have no bearing upon the investigation or the trial of the case.”

Having taken note of these aspects as well, the Court proceeded to dismiss the bail application of the groom and his father.

Advocates Sheikh Mudasir, Irfan Javid and Adil Nabi appeared for the bail applicants. 

Additional Public Prosecutor Romisa Rasool appeared for the Jammu and Kashmir government. 

Advocates Zahid Hussain Dar, and Syed Irfan Muhammad appeared for the complainant in protest application.

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