For dowry-linked cru­elty, SC re­stores ‘im­me­di­ate ar­rest’

‘Abuse Of Sec 498A Can’t Be Rea­son To Cur­tail Am­bit Of Law’

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - TIMES NATION - @times­group.com

New Delhi: A three-judge Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Jus­tice Di­pak Misra on Fri­day dis­agreed with the court’s July 27 judg­ment which di­luted the rigour of Sec­tion 498A of IPC which war­rants im­me­di­ate ar­rest of a hus­band and his rel­a­tives in a dowry-linked com­plaint of cru­elty.

In the July 27 judg­ment, a bench of Jus­tices Adarsh Ku­mar Goel and U U Lalit had cited data from the Na­tional Crime Records Bu­reau which in­di­cated wide­spread mis­use of Sec­tion 498A by women to get hus­bands and their rel­a­tives ar­rested and ha­rassed for years. But on Fri­day, the SC de­cided that abuse of Sec­tion 498A should not amount to cur­tail­ing the am­bit of the law.

The two-judge bench had or­dered set­ting up of fam­ily wel­fare pan­els in every district to ex­am­ine the ve­rac­ity of each com­plaint un­der Sec­tion 498A. It had said no ar­rest would be made till the com­mit­tee gave a re­port en­dors­ing prima fa­cie authen­tic­ity of the com­plaint.

The ear­lier or­der had said there would be a des­ig­nated po­lice of­fi­cer to probe Sec­tion 498A com­plaints and ad­vised trial courts not to in­sist on per­sonal ap­pear­ance of all fam­ily mem­bers of the hus­band, es­pe­cially those liv­ing else­where, and per­mit ap­pear­ance through video con­fer­enc­ing.

In a case re­lat­ing to pro­tec­tion of per­sons from ar­rest by po­lice with­out war­rant, as it hap­pens in Sec­tion 498A com­plaints, the three-judge bench of Jus­tices Misra, A M Khan­wilkar and D Y Chan­drachud went far be­yond the scope of the pe­ti­tion and said, “At this stage, we are ob­li­gated to say that we are not in agree­ment with the judg­ment in Ra­jesh Sharma vs UP case (pro­nounced on July 27). Abuse of Sec­tion 498A (by women) would not make this court cur­tail the am­bit and scope of the sec­tion en­acted to pro­tect women from cru­elty in mat­ri­mo­nial homes.”

The bench faulted the ex­er­cise un­der­taken by the two-judge bench in lay­ing down elab­o­rate guide­lines as an ex­er­cise re­served solely for the leg­is­la­ture. It is­sued no­tice to the Cen­tre and ap­pointed se­nior ad­vo­cate V Shekhar as am­i­cus cu­riae while post­ing de­tailed de­lib­er­a­tions for Oc­to­ber 29. For the full re­port, log on to www.time­sofindia.com

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