September 14, 2018:
On Friday, Supreme Court scrapped its previous decision to set up ‘local-level committees’ to look into ‘Dowry Harassment’ complaints before any arrests are made. Court stated that it cannot fill in Legislative Gaps.
Apex Court has left it to Parliament to make suitable rules to keep a check on ‘Abuse of the Law’.
Supreme Court expounded that there are in-built remedies in ‘Criminal Procedure’ to check over the misuse of laws similar to Section 41A and the provision of Anticipatory Bail among others.
The apex court in a judgment said courts are there to protect harassed husbands and their relatives, who are not remotely connected to matrimonial cruelty, by granting them anticipatory bail.
SC Bench while modifying its earlier order brought an end to the role of NALSA (National Legal Services Authority) and NGOs.
Bench in its judgment stated that courts are there to protect harassed husbands and their relatives, who are not remotely connected to matrimonial cruelty, by granting them anticipatory bail
During last year in October, Supreme Court had indicated that it would recheck its earlier verdict that put an end to Automatic Arrests under Section 498A of the IPC which is often invoked in Dowry-Related cases.
Bench comprising of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice A M Khanwilkar and Justice D Y Chandrachud stated that it was “not in agreement” with the decision and “prima facie”, we perceive that the guidelines may be in the legislative sphere”.
The Bench continued stating, “At this stage, we are obligated to state that we are not in agreement with the decision rendered in Rajesh Sharma vs State of UP, because we are disposed to think that it really curtails the rights of the women who are harassed under Section 498A (subjecting a married woman to cruelty) of the Indian Penal Code,”
Supreme Court’s earlier verdict, come out on July 27, 2017, had laid down a ‘Set of Guidelines’ that included the setting up of ‘Family Welfare Committees’ to examine Harassment Complaints.
The Apex Court was hearing a PIL filed by NGO Nyayadhar which sought sharpness in Section 498A. It claimed that the otherwise “helpful instrument” in the hands of Victim Women had become “valueless”. It had also sought directions to include 2 women members in the three-member Family Welfare Committee as suggested in the previous Court Order.
What is Section 498A of Indian Penal Code?
Husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty.—Whoever, being the husband or the relative of the husband of a woman, subjects such woman to cruelty shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine.
Section 498A IPC. Husband or relative of husband of a women subjecting her to cruelty
Whoever, being the husband or the relative of the husband of a woman, subjects such woman to cruelty shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine. Explanation For the purpose of this section, “cruelty” means-
(a) any wilful conduct which is of such a nature as is likely to drive the woman to commit suicide or to cause grave injury or danger to life, limb or health (whether mental or physical) of the woman; or (b) harassment of the woman where such harassment is with a view to coercing her or any person related to her to meet any unlawful demand for any property or valuable security or is on account of failure by her or any person related to her to meet such demand.]
CLASSIFICATION OF OFFENCE
Punishment-Imprisonment for 3 years and fine‑Cognizable if information relating to the commission of the offence is given to an officer in charge of a police station by the person aggrieved by the offence or by any person related to her by blood, marriage or adoption or if there is no such relative, by any public servant belonging to such class or category as may be notified by the State Government in this behalf-Non-bailable-Triable by Magistrate of the first class-Non-compoundable.
While removing the safeguard, which was hailed by ‘harassed husbands’, the bench showed that it was alive to concerns over immediate arrest after lodging of an FIR under Section 498A. Parliament had introduced Section 498A in IPC in 1983 to deal with increasing number of dowry deaths while categorising the offence as cognisable and non-bailable.
Read Judgment @LatestLaws.com: