Offences under Section 354D IPC and Section 506 IPC are personal to the complainant and the accused: SC Quashes Conviction

The Supreme Court on Wednesday stated that offences under Section 354D IPC and Section 506 IPC are personal to the complainant and the accused.

The bench of Justices B.R. Gavai and Sandeep Mehta was dealing with the appeal challenging the order passed by the Telangana High Court partly allowing the Criminal Appeal preferred by the appellant, upholding his conviction for offences under Sections 354D and 506-Part I of the IPC, but reducing the sentence of imprisonment for both the offences to three months.

In the case at hand, the accused-appellant was tried by the Special Fast Track Court in Suryapet. The trial court acquitted the accused-appellant of the charges under Section 11 read with Section 12 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012. However, the court convicted and sentenced him for offenses under Sections 354D (stalking) and 506-Part I (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code.

Upon appeal, the High Court reduced the sentences for both offenses to three months each. A significant development in this case was the marriage of the appellant and the complainant (victim) on, in accordance with Hindu rites and customs. 

This marriage was also registered officially at the Office of Registrar of Hindu Marriages and Sub Registrar in Kodad, District Suryapet, Telangana. The complainant filed an affidavit affirming this fact. Subsequently, the court directed the Standing Counsel for the State of Telangana to verify the details of the marriage from the concerned police station.

Devina Sehgal, counsel for the State has filed a compliance affidavit sworn by the Sub-Inspector of the police station concerned who has verified the fact that the appellant and the complainant have solemnized marriage with each other and the marriage was registered as per the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 at the Office of Registrar and Sub Registrar, Kodad, Suryapet District, Telangana on 23rd, September 2023. 

Supreme Court observed that the appellant was initially charged for the offences under Sections 354D and 506 of IPC and Section 11 read with Section 12 of POCSO Act. However, the trial Court did not find the offences under the POCSO Act proved and acquitted the accused appellant from the said charges.

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The bench stated that the offences under Section 354D IPC and Section 506 IPC are personal to the complainant and the accused-appellant. The fact that the appellant and the complainant have married each other during the pendency of this appeal gives rise to a reasonable belief that both were involved in some kind of relationship even when the offences alleged were said to have been committed.

Supreme Court observed that since the appellant and the complainant have married each other, the affirmation of the judgment rendered by the High Court would have disastrous consequence on the accused appellant being sent to jail which in turn could put his matrimonial relationship with the complainant in danger.

In view of the above, the bench allowed the appeal.

Case Title: Dasari Srikanth v. State of Telangana 

Bench: Justices B.R. Gavai and Sandeep Mehta

Case No.: Arising out of SLP (Criminal) No(s). 2122 of 2024

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