Misuse of anti-dowry laws condemned

Supreme Court: Taking into account, the high rate of charge-sheeting under Section 498A of IPC, which is 93.6%, including the mothers and sisters of the husband, whereas the convictions made under this section is only 15%, the Court criticised the misuse of the laws and provisions made under the Penal Code, 1860 and other statutes for the protection of a woman from being harassed by her husband and in-laws with special reference to anti-dowry laws. The Court found itself bound to address the issue while dealing with the application by a man upon failing to get anticipatory bail from Sessions judge and the Patna High Court. The wife of the petitioner had levelled allegations against him and his parents of demanding Rs. 8 lac, a Maruti car, an air conditioner, a television set, etc and thereafter being driven out of the matrimonial home on non- fulfillment of the demands.

Specifically talking about Section 498A IPC, which is being used by the wives to harass their husbands and in-laws, the Court stated that since it is a non-bailable and cognizable offence, it is being highly misused by the unsatisfied wives. Considering the point of ‘arrests being made’ under the said provision, the Court mentioned that arrests are humiliating and cast scars forever. Castigating the police officers for lacking sensitivity or acting with oblique motive by arresting first and then proceeding with the rest, the Court said that to maintain a balance between individual liberty and societal order, while exercising the power of arrest, no arrest should be made only because the offence is non-bailable and cognizable and the police officer must be able to give justified reasons for making an arrest under Section 41 CrPC. With the intent to ensure that police officers do not arrest accused unnecessarily and Magistrate do not authorise detention casually and mechanically, the Court directed the State Government, Police Authorities and Magistrates to comply with proper procedures while making an arrest u/s 41 CrPC. Arnesh Kumar v. State of Bihar, Criminal Appeal No. 1277 of 2014, July 2, 2014.

To read the full judgment, refer to SCCOnLine

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