Bombay High Court today directed police not to file a charge sheet against Mafatlal family matriarch Madhuri and son Ajay, pending hearing of their petition seeking to quash a dowry harassment case registered by estranged daughter-in-law Sheetal Mafatlal.
79-year-old Madhuri and Ajay had filed a petition in October, seeking to quash the case registered against them at the suburban Gamdevi police station, on the grounds that it was Sheetal who had mentally and physically harassed her and other family members.
Sheetal, wife of industrialist Atulya Mafatlal, had lodged a complaint, alleging harassment by Madhuri, Atulya, Ajay, daughters Kunti Shah and Gayatri Jhaveri and Atulya's children Varun and Marushka.
The High Court had in October last year appointed a mediator and directed the family to amicably settle their dispute.
After a year, the mediator informed the court that while the dispute between Sheetal and Atulya, Varun, Marushka and Kunti Shah have been resolved, no settlement could be reached with the other family members - Madhuri, Ajay and Gayatri Jhaveri.
The High Court had, based on the settlement, quashed the case registered against Atulya, Marushka and Kunti.
A division bench of Justices A S Oka and S S Shinde today directed the police to file its reply on the petition filed by Madhuri and Ajay by December 11.
"The police shall not file a charge sheet in the case without prior permission from this court," the court directed.
In the petition, Madhuri and Ajay had alleged that Sheetal physically and mentally harassed the family with civil and criminal cases, including one under dowry law (Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code).
Madhuri and Ajay alleged that the recent tussle and subsequent public settlement between Sheetal and Atulya was "part of a larger criminal conspiracy so that other family members of deceased Yogindra Mafatlal could be dragged into uncalled for and unwarranted controversies and litigation of criminal law".
Atulya, after settling his dispute with his wife tendered unconditional apology for knowingly-unknowingly causing harassment to Sheetal. They have also admitted Sheetal's right to suitable residence – she will continue to reside in a separate bedroom in the family house on Altamount Road and get a suitable residence in case the couple decides to get divorced.