New Guidelines issued to form Family Welfare Committees in each District to examine each case reported.
In a truly landmark judgement delivered by the Bench of Justices AK Goel and UU Lalit Apex Court has directed that in order to contain instances of rampant misuse of Section 498A IPC District wise Committees shall be formed.
Detailed Guidelines have been issued which requires each District Legal Services Authority in the Country to form such a Three Member Committee. These Committees shall then examine and scrutinise each and every case reported under Section 498A IPC, Indian Law for Crulity in Marriage.
Bench said that Section 498A IPC was included in the statute with the laudable objective and aim to punish acts of cruelty at the hands of husband or his relatives meeted out against a wife. More so when such cruelty had the potential to result in suicide or murder of a woman. This stands duly mentioned in the Statement of Object & Reasons added in 1983.
Bench also added that whenever a Complaint is made to the Police or Magestrial Court, it shall be marke to the Committee who will prepare a report within 30 days.
Till such time no Arrests can be made in all such cases.
Read the extract of the detailed report hereunder:
Thus, after careful consideration of the whole issue, we consider it fit to give following directions :-
(a) In every district one or more Family Welfare Committees be constituted by the District Legal Services Authorities preferably comprising of three members. The constitution and working of such committees may be reviewed from time to time and at least once in a year by the District and Sessions Judge of the district who is also the Chairman of the District Legal Services Authority.
(b) The Committees may be constituted out of para legal volunteers/social workers/retired persons/wives of working officers/other citizens who may be found suitable and willing.
(c) The Committee members will not be called as witnesses.
(d) Every complaint under Section 498A received by the police or the Magistrate be referred to and looked into by such committee. Such committee may have interaction with the parties personally or by means of telephone or any other mode of communication including electronic communication.
(e) Report of such committee be given to the Authority by whom the complaint is referred to it latest within one month from the date of receipt of complaint.
(f) The committee may give its brief report about the factual aspects and its opinion in the matter.
(g) Till report of the committee is received, no arrest should normally be effected.
(h) The report may be then considered by the Investigating Officer or the Magistrate on its own merit.
(i) Members of the committee may be given such basic minimum training as may be considered necessary by the Legal Services Authority from time to time.
(j) The Members of the committee may be given such honorarium as may be considered viable.
(k) It will be open to the District and Sessions Judge to utilize the cost fund wherever considered necessary and proper.