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Sorry To See That Rapacity Can Create Conflicts And Damage Blood Relationships: Allahabad HC

While lamenting very sharply on the increasing turmoil and tug of war breaking at the drop of a hat being witnessed even in very close relationships, the Allahabad High Court it must be noted in a most pertinent, persuasive, progressive, pragmatic and powerful judgment titled Smt Vinita Mehrotra vs State of UP and Anr in Criminal Misc Anticipatory Bail Application u/s 438 Cr.P.C. No. – 13634 of 2023 and also cited in Neutral Citation No. – 2024:AHC:32810 that was pronounced as recently as on February 26, 2024 granted anticipatory bail to a 74-year-old woman and stated that it was sorry to see that “rapacity can create conflicts and damage blood relationships.” It must be mentioned here that the applicant had sought anticipatory bail after an FIR was instituted against her under Sections 420, 467, 468, 471 and 120-B of the IPC. We need to note here that the applicant had claimed that the disputed property was initially inherited by the applicant’s father and she subsequently contested in a collusive suit that had been filed by the complainant who had allegedly obtained a decree without the applicant’s knowledge.

It must be mentioned here that the Court took into account the irrefutable fact that the applicant had executed a sale deed without misrepresenting anyone. In addition, the Court also considered seriously the age of the applicant and the pending civil suits and stated that an “exception can be drawn”. Further, the Court also took note the lack of criminal antecedents against the applicant. We thus see that the Allahabad High Court while allowing the bail application granted her anticipatory bail.

Most forthrightly, the Single Judge Bench of Hon’ble Mr Justice Krishan Pahal who authored this learned, laudable and landmark judgment minced just no words to lament most unequivocally stating that, “It is very unfortunate when familial relationships are strained by greed. Open communication and understanding can be key to resolving such issues. Sorry to see that rapacity can create conflicts and damage blood relationships. The FIR and the litigations between the parties is a fallout of depleting family relations due to avidity. The litigation can further complicate the already depleting family dynamics.”

At the very outset, this brief, brilliant, bold and balanced judgment authored by the Single Judge Bench comprising of Hon’ble Mr Justice Krishan Pahal sets the ball in motion by first and foremost putting forth in para 3 that, “The present anticipatory bail application has been filed on behalf of the applicant in Case Crime No.894 of 2022 registered under Sections 420, 467, 468, 471 and 120-B IPC at Police Station- Kotwali City, District Bijnor with a prayer to enlarge her on anticipatory bail.”

 PROSECUTION STORY:

To put things in perspective, the Bench envisages in para 4 that, “The FIR was instituted by the informant Rakesh Sharma that he and his wife have a property in Civil Lines, Bijnor which has residence, shops and open land surrounded by boundary wall which is being used by them for the last 50 years. The said property was inherited by the informant after a family partition in the year 1974 after an order was taken from the Court. The two persons namely, Mohammed Talib and Shankar Lal, are land mafias of the area and have garnered huge black money out of it. They want to illegally grab his property. The informant had sold a certain part of the said property on 14.11.2022. It is learnt that the said land mafias have got executed ten sale deeds of certain parts of the land on 25.11.2022 in the names of their siblings in collusion with Vinita Mehrotra w/o Shri PK Mehrotra. The land grabber had got the said sale deeds executed, despite knowing the fact that Smt. Vinita Mehrotra (applicant) does not have any title to the said land.”

Adding more, the Bench mentions in para 5 that, “It is further stated in the FIR that the informant had contested several petitions up to the Supreme Court for getting certain shops vacated by filing petitions under the Rent Control Act. The said sale deed have been executed for a consideration of Rs.3,25,00,000,/- although the real value in the open market is much more than the amount shown in the sale deeds.”

 RIVAL CONTENTIONS:

Truth be told, the Bench reveals in para 6 that, “The instant dispute relates to the property under the name of ‘Dharm Bhawan’ having an approximate area of 2400 square yards situated in the city of Bijnor, U.P.”

Greed Leads to Conflicts and Harms Family Ties Allahabad HC

 While delving deeper, the Bench lays bare in para 7 that, “The original owner of the said property was Sahdev Sharma whose wife was Smt. Kusum Rani Sharma and the couple had three siblings, namely, Vinita Mehrotra (applicant), Rakesh Sharma and Sangeeta Narang. The said Sahdev Sharma, father of the applicant, expired on 20.06.2012 and thereafter his wife Kusum Rani Sharma expired on 20.06.2012. It is placed on record that the informant Rakesh Sharma is a practising advocate at the District Court, Bijnor and so was his father Sahdev Sharma and was even a Government Counsel (ADGC) at the District Court, Bijnor.”

 As it turned out, the Bench discloses in para 8 that, “The informant is stated to have filed a collusive suit bearing O.S. No.28 of 1974 before the Civil Judge, Bijnor for partition and permanent injunction under the name of his mother and his father Sahdev Sharma was made a defendant in it during the life time of Dharmveer Sharma (father of Sahdev Sharma, who died on 1.1.1975). In the said original suit, a compromise was filed by the parties on 15.04.1974 and the same was decided on the basis of the said compromise the same day i.e. 15.04.1974 itself and a decree was passed.”

Do note, the Bench notes in para 9 that, “It is pertinent to mention that the applicant- Vinita Mehrotra, who was already married off in the year 1967, was not a party in the said original suit, as such had no inkling of the said collusive suit and decree obtained by the informant. It is also stated that just 18 days before the death of Smt. Kusum Rani Sharma (mother of the applicant and the informant), a forged Will deed is stated to have been prepared in favour of first informant on 02.06.2012, which has not been signed by her. The deceased is stated to be 86 years old on 2.6.2012.”

Do also note that the Bench notes in para 10 that, “The instant dispute arose when the applicant sent a legal notice to the first informant for partition of the property in question and getting her one third share of the said property on 23.09.2022 and the applicant was forced to file a civil suit as O.S. No.760 of 2022 (Smt. Vinita Mehrotra vs. Rakesh Sharma and Others) on 3.10.2022 before the Civil Judge (Senior Division), Bijnor for partition of the property in question between the legal heirs of deceased Sahdev Sharma. A copy of the said civil suit has been annexed as Annexure No.4 to the anticipatory bail application.”

 Be it noted, the Bench notes in para 11 that, “The first informant filed an application Under Order VII Rule 11 of CPC on 25.11.2022 in the said original suit and only then the applicant came to know of the said collusive decree dated 15.04.1974. A copy of the said application has been annexed as Annexure No.5 to the anticipatory bail application. Subsequent to it, the applicant is stated to have filed O.S. No.967 of 2022 on 18.12.2022 for cancellation of the judgment and decree dated 15.04.1974, obtained ex-parte. The said suit is still pending and the matter is being contested before the Civil Court.”

It also must be taken into account that the Bench notes in para 12 that, “The applicant had also filed O.S. No.960 of 2022 before the Civil Judge (Senior Division), Bijnor for cancellation of the fake Will deed dated 2.6.2012 purported to have been executed by Late Smt. Kusum Rani Sharma, before her death on 20.06.2012. The applicant had even filed information in the local newspaper ‘Chingari’ on 3.10.2022 indicating that she holds one third share in the said property.”

 It cannot be glossed over that the Bench observes in para 13 that, “The applicant had executed ten sale deeds of the parts of the said property measuring 647 square yards for a consideration of Rs.3,25,00,000/-. The instant FIR has been instituted subsequent to the said sale deed on 6.12.2022. The applicant was granted arrest stay by this Court till the conclusion investigation vide order dated 1.2.2023 passed in Criminal Misc. Writ Petition No.1383 of 2023.”

It is worth noting that the Bench notes in para 14 that, “The informant had even forged an unregistered Will deed of his father dated 10.02.1979 and had even forged the signatures of the applicant on it. The Investigating Officer has not acted fairly and has submitted the final report (charge-sheet) mechanically in collusion with the informant, who is an advocate, and the cognizance order dated 29.03.2023 is without application of mind.”

It would be pertinent to note that the Bench notes in para 15 that, “The application filed Under Order VII Rule 11 of CPC was allowed by the Learned Civil Judge ex-parte on 8.2.2023 without hearing the applicant that too on the date when there was a resolution of the Bar to abstain from work on account of condolence of the death of an advocate. The applicant has filed Appeal No.33 of 2023 against the said order dated 9.1.2023 of the Civil Judge before the District Judge, Bijnor, which is still pending.”

Most significantly, the Bench laments in para 37 stating that, “It is very unfortunate when familial relationships are strained by greed. Open communication and understanding can be key to resolving such issues. Sorry to see that rapacity can create conflicts and damage blood relationships. The FIR and the litigations between the parties is a fallout of depleting family relations due to avidity. The litigation can further complicate the already depleting family dynamics.”

Equally significant is what is then held in para 38 that, “On due consideration to the arguments advanced by learned counsel for the applicant, learned counsel for the informant as well as learned A.G.A., taking into consideration the judgment of the Supreme Court passed in Mohd. Ibrahim (supra) and the fact that the bail application of the co-accused person Shankar Lal has been allowed by the Supreme Court vide its’ order dated 9.11.2023 coupled with the fact that the applicant has no criminal antecedents to her credit, and considering the nature of accusations, the applicant is liable to be enlarged on anticipatory bail in view of the judgment of Supreme Court in the case of “Sushila Aggarwal Vs. State (NCT of Delhi), (2020) 5 SCC 1”. The future contingencies regarding the anticipatory bail being granted to applicant shall also be taken care of as per the aforesaid judgment of the Apex Court.”

In a nutshell, we thus see that the Allahabad High Court very rightly grants anticipatory bail to the 74-year-old woman on furnishing a personal bond and two sureties each with certain conditions attached to it. It is high time and people must pay heed to what the Single Judge bench comprising of Hon’ble Mr Justice Krishan Pahal of Allahabad High Court has held so very elegantly while lamenting on the conflicts created by greed of money in blood relationships and it will do them a world of good and create harmony which is most important in life. No denying!

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