MyNation KnowledgeBase

Landmark Judgments and Articles on Law

Register to Download

Rajesh Sharma Verdict – To Prevent Misuse Of 498A IPC, SC Says No To ‘Welfare Committee’

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

CIVIL ORIGINAL JURISDICTION
WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO. 73 OF 2015

Social Action Forum for Manav Adhikar …Petitioner(s)
and another
VERSUS
Union of India
Ministry of Law and Justice and others …Respondent(s)
WITH CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 1265 OF 2017
WRIT PETITION (CRIMINAL) NO. 156 of 2017

J U D G M E N T
Dipak Misra, CJI

Law, especially the criminal law, intends to control, if not altogether remove, the malady that gets into the spine of the society and gradually corrodes the marrows of the vertebrae of a large section of the society. A situation arises and the legislature, expressing its concern and responsibility, adds a new penal provision with the intention to achieve the requisite result. When a sensitive legal provision is brought into the statute book, the victims of the crime feel adequately safe, and if the said provision pertains to matrimonial sphere, both the parties, namely, wife and husband or any one from the side of the husband is booked for the offence and both the sides play the victim card. The accused persons, while asserting as victims, exposit grave concern and the situation of harassment is built with enormous anxiety and accentuated vigour. It is propounded in a court of law that the penal provision is abused to an unimaginable extent, for in a cruel, ruthless and totally revengeful manner, the young, old and relatives residing at distant places having no involvement with the incident, if any, are roped in. Thus, the abuse of the penal provision has vertically risen. When the implementation of law is abused by the law enforcing agency, the legislature introduces a protective provision as regards arrest. Needless to say, the courts have ample power to grant pre-arrest bail or popularly called anticipatory bail and even to quash the criminal proceeding totally to stabilize the lawful balance because no court of law remotely conceives of a war between the two sexes. The courts remain constantly alive to the situation that though no war takes place, yet neither anger nor vendetta of the aggrieved section should take an advantage of the legal provision and harass the other side with influence or espousing the principle of sympathy. The role of the law enforcing agency or the prosecuting agency is sometimes coloured with superlative empathy being totally oblivious of the sensation to make maladroit efforts to compete with the game of super sensitivity. Such a situation brings in a social disaster that has the potentiality to vertically divide the society. The sense of sensitivity and the study of social phenomenon are required to be understood with objectivity. In such a situation, it is obligatory on the part of the legislature to bring in protective adjective law and the duty of the constitutional courts to perceive and scrutinize the protective measure so that the social menace is curbed. We are, in the instant matters, focussing on Section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (for short, „the IPC?).

2. Section 498-A was brought into the statute book in the year 1983. The objects and reasons for introducing Section 498-A IPC can be gathered from the Statement of Objects and Reasons of Criminal Law (Second Amendment) Act of 1983 and read as under :-

“The increasing number of Dowry Deaths is a matter of
serious concern. The extent of evil has been commented
upon by the Joint Committee of the Houses constituted
to examine the working of Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961.
Cases of cruelty by the husband and the relatives of the
husband which culminate in suicide by, or murder of the
hapless woman concerned, constitute only a small
fraction of the cases involving such cruelty. It is,
therefore proposed to amend the Indian Penal Code,
Code of Criminal Procedure and the Indian Evidence Act
suitably to deal effectively not only with cases of Dowry
Death but also cruelty to married woman by their in laws.

2. The following are the changes that are proposed to be
made:-

(i) The Indian Penal Code is proposed to be amended to
make cruelty to a woman by her husband or any relative
of her husband punishable with an imprisonment for a
term which may extend to three years and also with fine.
Willful conduct of such a nature by the husband or any
other relative of the husband as is likely to drive the
woman to commit suicide or cause grave physical or
mental injury to her, and harassment of woman by her
husband or by any relative of her husband with a view to
coercing her or any of her relatives to meet any unlawful
demand for property would be punishable as cruelty, the
offence will cognizable if information relating to the
commission of the offence is given to the officer in
charge of a Police Station by the victim of the offence or
a relative of the victim of the offence or, in the absence
of any such relative, by any public servant authorized in
this behalf by the State Government. It is also being
provided that no court shall take cognizance of the
offence except upon a Police Report or complaint made
by the victim of the offence or by her father, mother,
brother, sister or by her father’s or mother’s brother or
sister or with the leave of the court by any other person
related to her by blood, marriage or adoption (vide
Clauses 2, 5 and 6 of the Bill.)

(ii) Provision is being made for inquest by Executive
Magistrates and for postmortem in all cases where a
woman has, within seven years of her marriage,
committed suicide or died in circumstances raising a
reasonable suspicion that some other person has
committed an offence. Post-mortem is also being
provided for in all cases where a married woman has
died within seven years of her marriage and a relative of
such woman has made a request in this behalf (vide
Clauses 3 and 4 of the Bill)

(iii)The Indian evidence Act, 1872 is being amended to
provide that where a woman has committed suicide
within a period of seven years from date of her marriage
and it is shown that her husband or any relative of her
husband and subjected her to cruelty, the court may
presume that such suicide had been abetted by her
husband or by such relative of her husband (vide Clause
7 of the Bill)

3. The Bill seeks to achieve the above objectives.”

3. Regarding the constitutionality of Section 498-A IPC, in Sushil Kumar Sharma v. Union of India and others1 , it was held by the Supreme Court:-

“Provision of S. 498A of Penal Code is not
unconstitutional and ultra vires. Mere possibility of abuse
of a provision of law does not per se invalidate a
legislation. Hence plea that S. 498A has no legal or
constitutional foundation is not tenable. The object of the
provisions is prevention of the dowry menace. But many
instances have come to light where the complaints are
not bona fide and have been filed with oblique motive. In
such cases acquittal of the accused does not in all cases
wipe out the ignominy suffered during and prior to trial.
Sometimes adverse media coverage adds to the misery.
The question, therefore, is what remedial measures can
be taken to prevent abuse of the well-intentioned
provision. Merely because the provision is constitutional
and intra vires, does not give a licence to unscrupulous
persons to wreck personal vendetta or unleash
harassment. It may, therefore, become necessary for the
legislature to find out ways how the makers of frivolous
complaints or allegations can be appropriately dealt with.
Till then the Courts have to take care of the situation
within the existing frame-work.”

4. In B.S. Joshi and others v. State of Haryana and another,the Court observed:-

“There is no doubt that the object of introducing Chapter
XX-A containing Section 498A in the Indian Penal Code
was to prevent the torture to a woman by her husband or
by relatives of her husband. Section 498A was added with
a view to punishing a husband and his relatives who
harass or torture the wife to coerce her or her relatives to
satisfy unlawful demands of dowry. The hyper-technical
view would be counter productive and would act against
interests of women and against the object for which this
provision was added. There is eveiy likelihood that nonexercise
of inherent power to quash the proceedings to
meet the ends of justice would prevent women from
settling earlier. That is not the object of Chapter XXA of
Indian Penal Code.”

5. In Brij Lal v. Prem Chand and another , this Court ruled thus:-

“It would not be out of place for us to refer here to the
addition of Sections 113-A and 113-B to the Indian
Evidence Act and Sections 498-A and 304-B to the Indian
Penal Code by subsequent amendments. Section 113-A
Evidence Act and 498-A Indian Penal Code have been
introduced in the respective enactments by the Criminal
Law (Second amendment) Act, 1983 (Act 46 of 1983) and
Section 113-B of the Evidence Act and 304-B Indian
Penal Code have been introduced by Act No. 43 of 1986.
The degradation of society due to the pernicious system
of dowry and the unconscionable demands made by
greedy and unscrupulous husbands and their parents and
relatives resulting in an alarming number of suicidal and
dowry deaths by women has shocked the Legislative
conscience to such an extent that the Legislature has
deemed it necessary to provide additional provisions of
law, procedural as well as substantive, to combat the evil
and has consequently introduced Sections 113-A and
113-B in the Indian Evidence Act and Sections 498-A
and 304-B in the Indian Penal Code. By reason of Section
113-A, the Courts can presume that the commission of
suicide by a woman has been abetted by her husband or
relation if two factors are present viz. (1) that the woman
had committed suicide within a period of seven years
from her marriage, and (2) that the husband or relation
had subjected her to cruelty. We are referring to these
provisions only to show that the Legislature has realised
the need to provide for additional provisions in the Indian
Penal Code and the Indian Evidence Act to check the
growing menace of dowry deaths…”

6. Presently, to the factual score. The instant Petitions have been preferred under Article 32 of the Constitution of India seeking directions to the respondents to create an enabling environment for married women subjected to cruelty to make informed choices and to create a uniform system of monitoring and systematically reviewing incidents of violence against women under Section 498-A IPC including their prevention, investigation, prosecution and rehabilitation of the victims and their children at the Central, State and District levels. That apart, prayer has been made to issue a writ of mandamus to the respondents for a uniform policy of registration of FIR, arrest and bail in cases of Section 498-A IPC in consonance with the law of the land, i.e., to immediately register FIR on complaint of cruelty and harassment by married women as per the IPC.

7. It has been averred by the petitioners that hundreds of women are being subjected to horrific acts of violence often in the guise of domestic abuse or to extract more money from the girl’s natal family due to absence of any uniform system of monitoring and systematic review of incidents of violence against married women which has led to dilution of the legislative intent behind Section 498-A IPC. And, in the wake of ever increasing crimes leading to unnatural deaths of women in marital homes, any dilution of Section 498-A IPC is not warranted.

8. It has been contended that Section 498-A IPC, since its introduction, has increasingly been vilified and associated with the perception that it is misused by women who frequently use it as a weapon against their in-laws. As per the petitioners, though there is general complaint that Section 498-A IPC is subject to gross misuse, yet there is no concrete data to indicate how frequently the provision has been misused. Further, the Court, by whittling down the stringency of Section 498-A IPC, is proceeding on an erroneous premise that there is misuse of the said provision, whereas in fact misuse by itself cannot be a ground to repeal a penal provision or take away its teeth.

9. It is set forth in the petition that Section 498-A IPC has been specifically enacted to protect the vulnerable sections of the society who have been victims of cruelty and harassment. The social purpose behind Section 498-A IPC is being lost as the rigour of the said provision has been diluted and the offence has practically been made bailable by reason of various qualifications and restrictions prescribed by various decisions of this Court including Rajesh Sharma and others v. State of U.P. and another, a recent pronouncement.

10. It has also been submitted by the petitioners that the police is hesitant to arrest the accused on complaint of married women and the same inaction is justified by quoting various judgments, despite the fact that Section 498-A IPC discloses a non-bailable offence and sufficient checks and balances have been provided in the law itself under Section 41 CrPC. To prevent arbitrary and necessary arrest, the statute very clearly states that the police shall record reasons for effecting arrest as well as for not arresting.

11. The petitioners have also asseverated that there is lack of monitoring mechanism to track cases registered under Section 498-A IPC including systematic study of the reason of low convictions and due to this absence, penal laws have not been able to secure a safe married environment to women. This, as per the petitioners, has also resulted in rise in cases under Section 498-A IPC because the deterrent effect of the said provision is getting diluted. It is also the case of the petitioners that investigation by the police of offence under Section 498-A IPC is often unprofessional and callous and the investigating officers perceptibly get influenced by both the parties which results in perpetrators escaping conviction.

12. It is further contended that in many cases under Section 498-A, IPC the Court has not considered mental cruelty caused to the woman but has concentrated only on any sign of physical cruelty due to which the courts do not look into a case if the evidence does not show that the woman was physically harassed. This has led the courts to brand the woman on many occasions as hyper-sensitive or of low tolerance level.

13. It has been further averred that the alleged abuse of the penal provision is mostly by well-educated women who know that the offence is both cognizable and non-bailable and impromptu works on the complaint of the woman by placing the man behind the bars, but this cannot be a ground for denying the poor and illiterate women the protection that is offered by Section 498-A IPC against cruelty, rather there is a need to create awareness specifically in the rural areas about the laws for protection of women and consequent available remedies in case of breach.

14. It is also set forth in the petition that despite the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 being passed, the irony still survives perhaps with more oxygen, for the social evil of dowry is on the increase and is openly practised with pride. It is put forth that women today are still tortured and often the court, despite being the ultimate saviour, does not come to the rescue of these women as a consequence of which an atmosphere of ambivalence prevails and such societal ambivalence creates a situation of war between two classes though in actuality the offence is relatable to individuals. A sorry state of affairs is pronouncedly asserted.

15. On the aforesaid bedrock, a prayer in Writ Petition (Civil) No. 73 of 2015 has been made to have a uniform policy of registration of FIR, arrest and bail in cases of Section 498-A IPC. It is worthy to note here that during the pendency of this Writ Petition, the judgment had been pronounced in Rajesh Sharma (supra). The Court in Rajesh Sharma (supra) issued the following guidelines:-

“19.i) (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.

ii) Complaints under Section 498A and other
connected offences may be investigated only by a
designated Investigating Officer of the area. Such
designations may be made within one month from
today. Such designated officer may be required to
undergo training for such duration (not less than
one week) as may be considered appropriate. The
training may be completed within four months from
today;

iii) In cases where a settlement is reached, it will
be open to the District and Sessions Judge or any
other senior Judicial Officer nominated by him in the
district to dispose of the proceedings including
closing of the criminal case if dispute primarily
relates to matrimonial discord;

iv) If a bail application is filed with at least one
clear day?s notice to the Public
Prosecutor/complainant, the same may be decided
as far as possible on the same day. Recovery of
disputed dowry items may not by itself be a ground
for denial of bail if maintenance or other rights of
wife/minor children can otherwise be protected.
Needless to say that in dealing with bail matters,
individual roles, prima facie truth of the allegations,
requirement of further arrest/ custody and interest of
justice must be carefully weighed;

v) In respect of persons ordinarily residing out of
India impounding of passports or issuance of Red
Corner Notice should not be a routine;
vi) It will be open to the District Judge or a
designated senior judicial officer nominated by the
District Judge to club all connected cases between
the parties arising out of matrimonial disputes so
that a holistic view is taken by the Court to whom all
such cases are entrusted; and

vii) Personal appearance of all family members
and particularly outstation members may not be
required and the trial court ought to grant exemption
from personal appearance or permit appearance by
video conferencing without adversely affecting
progress of the trial.
viii) These directions will not apply to the offences
involving tangible physical injuries or death.”

16. In the meanwhile, Writ Petition (Criminal) No. 156 of 2017 had been filed. A prayer had been made in the said Writ Petition to implement the suggestion that out of three members, at least two members should be appointed in the Family Welfare Committee. When this Writ Petition was listed on 13.10.2017, the following order came to be passed:-

“Mr. Alok Singh, learned counsel for the petitioner though
has a different set of prayers in the writ petition, it
fundamentally requires this Court to implement directions
rendered in Criminal Appeal No.1265 of 2017 [Rajesh
Sharma vs. State of U.P. and Another]. Additionally,
learned counsel would submit that certain lady members,
certain organizations and welfare committees are to be
involved.

At this stage, we are obligated to state that we are
not in agreement with the decision rendered in Rajesh
Sharma (supra) because we are disposed to think that it
really curtails the rights of the women who are harassed
under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code. That apart,
prima facie, we perceive that the guidelines may be in the
legislative sphere.

Issue notice to the respondent Nos.1 to 3. No notice
need be issued to the respondent No.4. Even if the
petitioner does not take steps, the Registry shall see to it
that the respondents are served. Ms. Indu Malhotra and
Mr. V. Shekhar, learned senior counsel are appointed as
Amicus Curiae to assist the Court in the matter.
List the matter on 29th November, 2017.”

17. Mr. V. Shekhar, learned senior counsel, was appointed as Amicus Curiae to assist the Court in the matter.

18. It was submitted by the learned Amicus Curiae that the decision in Rajesh Sharma (supra) requires reconsideration, for the said judgment confers powers on the Family Welfare Committee to be constituted by the District Legal Services Authority which is an extra-judicial committee of para legal volunteers/social workers/retired persons/wives of working officers/other citizens to look into the criminal complaints under Sections 498-A IPC in the first instance and further, there has been a direction that till such time a report of the committee is received, no arrest should be made. It is urged that the constitution of FWC to look into the criminal complaints under Section 498-A IPC is contrary to the procedure prescribed under the Code of Criminal Procedure.

19. It is further propounded that the directions in certain paragraphs of the judgment in Rajesh Sharma (supra) entrusting the power to dispose of the proceedings under Section 498-A IPC by the District and Sessions Judge or any other senior judicial officer nominated by him in the district in cases where there is settlement, are impermissible, for an offence under Section 498-A is not compoundable and hence, such a power could not have been conferred on any District and Sessions Judge or any senior judicial officer nominated by him. Elaborating the said submission, it is canvassed that the High Court is empowered under Section 482 CrPC to quash the proceeding if there is a settlement between the parties. Learned Amicus Curiae further submitted that the recovery of disputed dowry items may not itself be a ground for denial of bail which is the discretion of the court to decide the application of grant of bail in the facts and circumstances of the case and thus, this tantamounts to a direction which is not warranted in law. Criticism has been advanced with regard to the direction in paragraph 19(v) which states that for persons who are ordinarily residing out of India, impounding of passports or issuance of Red Corner Notice should not be done in a routine manner. It is urged that if an accused does not join the investigation relating to matrimonial/family offence, the competent court can issue appropriate directions to the concerned authorities to issue Red Corner Notice which will depend on the facts of the case.

20. Learned Amicus Curiae has further put forth that dispensation of personal appearance of outstation family members is unwarranted, for in a criminal proceeding, the competent court which deals with application of exemption should be allowed to exercise the judicial discretion and there should not have been a general direction by this Court. Certain suggestions have been given by the learned Amicus Curiae which we shall refer to at the relevant stage.

21. To appreciate the controversy, it is necessary to understand the scope of Section 498-A of IPC. It reads thus:-

“498-A. 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. 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.”

22. The said offence is a cognizable and non-bailable offence. This Court in Arnesh Kumar v. State of Bihar and another has observed that the said offence which is a cognizable and non-bailable offence has lent it a dubious place of pride amongst the provisions that are used as weapons rather than shield by disgruntled wives. The simplest way to harass is to get the husband and his relatives arrested under this provision. The Court has taken note of the statistics under “Crime in India 2012 Statistics” published by the National Crime Records Bureau, Ministry of Home Affairs which shows arrest of 1,97,762 persons all over India during the year 2012 for the offence under Section 498-A. Showing concern, the Court held that arrest brings humiliation, curtails freedom and casts scars forever and the police had not learnt its lesson which is implicit and embodied in the Criminal Procedure Code. Commenting on the police, the Court said:-

“It has not come out of its colonial image despite six
decades of Independence, it is largely considered as a
tool of harassment, oppression and surely not considered
a friend of public. The need for caution in exercising the
drastic power of arrest has been emphasised time and
again by the courts but has not yielded desired result.
Power to arrest greatly contributes to its arrogance so
also the failure of the Magistracy to check it. Not only this,
the power of arrest is one of the lucrative sources of
police corruption. The attitude to arrest first and then
proceed with the rest is despicable. It has become a
handy tool to the police officers who lack sensitivity or act
with oblique motive.”

23. The Court, thereafter, has drawn a distinction between the power to arrest and justification for the exercise of it and analysed Section 41 CrPC. Section 41 stipulates when police may arrest without warrant. The said provision reads as follows:-

“41. When police may arrest without warrant.—(1) Any
police officer may without an order from a Magistrate and
without a warrant, arrest any person—

(a) who commits, in the presence of a police officer, a
cognizable offence;

(b) against whom a reasonable complaint has been
made, or credible information has been received, or a
reasonable suspicion exists that he has committed a
cognizable offence punishable with imprisonment for a
term which may be less than seven years or which may
extend to seven years whether with or without fine, if the
following conditions are satisfied, namely:–

(i) the police officer has reason to believe on the basis of such complaint, information, or suspicion that such person has committed the said offence;

(ii) the police officer is satisfied that such arrest is necessary– (a) to prevent such person from committing any further offence; or

(b) for proper investigation of the offence; or

(c) to prevent such person from causing the
evidence of the offence to disappear or tampering
with such evidence in any manner; or

(d) to prevent such person from making any
inducement, threat or promise to any person
acquainted with the facts of the case so as to
dissuade him from disclosing such facts to the Court
or to the police officer; or

(e) as unless such person is arrested, his presence
in the Court whenever required cannot be ensured,
and the police officer shall record while making such
arrest, his reasons in writing.

Provided that a police officer shall, in all cases where the
arrest of a person is not required under the provisions of
this sub-section, record the reasons in writing for not
making the arrest.

(ba) against whom credible information has been
received that he has committed a cognizable offence
punishable with imprisonment for a term which may
extend to more than seven years whether with or without
fine or with death sentence and the police officer has
reason to believe on the basis of that information that
such person has committed the said offence.

(c) who has been proclaimed as an offender either under
this Code or by order of the State Government; or

(d) in whose possession anything is found which may
reasonably be suspected to be stolen property and who
may reasonably be suspected of having committed an
offence with reference to such thing; or

(e) who obstructs a police officer while in the execution
of his duty, or who has escaped, or attempts to escape,
from lawful custody; or

(f) who is reasonable suspected of being a deserter from
any of the Armed Forces of the Union; or

(g) who has been concerned in, or against whom a
reasonable complaint has been made, or credible
information has been received, or a reasonable
suspicion exists, of his having been concerned in, any
act committed at any place out of India which, if
committed in India, would have been punishable as an
offence, and for which he is, under any law relating to
extradition, or otherwise, liable to be apprehended or
detained in custody in India; or

(h) who, being a released convict, commits a breach of
any rule made under sub-section (5) of section 356; or

(i) for whose arrest any requisition, whether written or
oral, has been received from another police officer,
provided that the requisition specifies the person to be
arrested and the offence or other cause for which the
arrest is to be made and it appears therefrom that the
person might lawfully be arrested without a warrant by
the officer who issued the requisition.

(2) Subject to the provisions of section 42, no person
concerned in a non-cognizable offence or against whom
a complaint has been made or credible information has
been received or reasonable suspicion exists of his
having so concerned, shall be arrested except under a
warrant or order of a Magistrate.”

24. Scrutinising the said provision, the Court held as under:-

“7.1. From a plain reading of the aforesaid provision, it is
evident that a person accused of an offence punishable with
imprisonment for a term which may be less than seven years
or which may extend to seven years with or without fine,
cannot be arrested by the police officer only on his
satisfaction that such person had committed the offence
punishable as aforesaid. A police officer before arrest, in
such cases has to be further satisfied that such arrest is
necessary to prevent such person from committing any
further offence; or for proper investigation of the case; or to
prevent the accused from causing the evidence of the
offence to disappear; or tampering with such evidence in any
manner; or to prevent such person from making any
inducement, threat or promise to a witness so as to dissuade
him from disclosing such facts to the court or the police
officer; or unless such accused person is arrested, his
presence in the court whenever required cannot be ensured.
These are the conclusions, which one may reach based on
facts.
x x x x x
7.3. In pith and core, the police officer before arrest must put
a question to himself, why arrest? Is it really required? What
purpose it will serve? What object it will achieve? It is only
after these questions are addressed and one or the other
conditions as enumerated above is satisfied, the power of
arrest needs to be exercised. In fine, before arrest first the
police officers should have reason to believe on the basis of
information and material that the accused has committed the
offence. Apart from this, the police officer has to be satisfied
further that the arrest is necessary for one or the more
purposes envisaged by sub-clauses (a) to (e) of clause (1) of
Section 41 CrPC.”

25. The learned Judges, thereafter, referred to Section 41-A CrPC which has been inserted by Section 6 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Act, 2008 (5 of 2009). The said provision is to the following effect:-

“41-A. Notice of appearance before police officer.—(1)
The police officer shall, in all cases where the arrest of a
person is not required under the provisions of sub-section (1)
of Section 41, issue a notice directing the person against
whom a reasonable complaint has been made, or credible
information has been received, or a reasonable suspicion
exists that he has committed a cognizable offence, to appear
before him or at such other place as may be specified in the
notice.
(2) Where such a notice is issued to any person, it shall
be the duty of that person to comply with the terms of the
notice.
(3) Where such person complies and continues to comply
with the notice, he shall not be arrested in respect of the
offence referred to in the notice unless, for reasons to be
recorded, the police officer is of the opinion that he ought to
be arrested.
(4) Where such person, at any time, fails to comply with
the terms of the notice or is unwilling to identify himself, the
police officer may, subject to such orders as may have been
passed by a competent court in this behalf, arrest him for the
offence mentioned in the notice.”
Explaining the said provision, it has been ruled:-

“9. …The aforesaid provision makes it clear that in all cases
where the arrest of a person is not required under Section
41(1) CrPC, the police officer is required to issue notice
directing the accused to appear before him at a specified
place and time. Law obliges such an accused to appear
before the police officer and it further mandates that if such
an accused complies with the terms of notice he shall not be
arrested, unless for reasons to be recorded, the police officer
is of the opinion that the arrest is necessary. At this stage
also, the condition precedent for arrest as envisaged under
Section 41 CrPC has to be complied and shall be subject to
the same scrutiny by the Magistrate as aforesaid.”
The Court further went on to say that:-

“10. We are of the opinion that if the provisions of Section 41
CrPC which authorises the police officer to arrest an
accused without an order from a Magistrate and without a
warrant are scrupulously enforced, the wrong committed by
the police officers intentionally or unwittingly would be
reversed and the number of cases which come to the Court
for grant of anticipatory bail will substantially reduce. We
would like to emphasise that the practice of mechanically
reproducing in the case diary all or most of the reasons
contained in Section 41 CrPC for effecting arrest be
discouraged and discontinued.”
The directions issued in the said case are worthy to note:-

“11. Our endeavour in this judgment is to ensure that police
officers do not arrest the accused unnecessarily and
Magistrate do not authorise detention casually and
mechanically. In order to ensure what we have observed
above, we give the following directions:
11.1. All the State Governments to instruct its police officers
not to automatically arrest when a case under Section 498-A
IPC is registered but to satisfy themselves about the
necessity for arrest under the parameters laid down above
flowing from Section 41 CrPC;
11.2. All police officers be provided with a check list
containing specified sub-clauses under Section 41(1)(b)(ii);
11.3. The police officer shall forward the check list duly filled
and furnish the reasons and materials which necessitated
the arrest, while forwarding/producing the accused before
the Magistrate for further detention;
11.4. The Magistrate while authorising detention of the
accused shall peruse the report furnished by the police
officer in terms aforesaid and only after recording its
satisfaction, the Magistrate will authorise detention;
11.5. The decision not to arrest an accused, be forwarded to
the Magistrate within two weeks from the date of the
institution of the case with a copy to the Magistrate which
may be extended by the Superintendent of Police of the
district for the reasons to be recorded in writing;
11.6. Notice of appearance in terms of Section 41-A CrPC
be served on the accused within two weeks from the date of
institution of the case, which may be extended by the
Superintendent of Police of the district for the reasons to be
recorded in writing;
11.7. Failure to comply with the directions aforesaid shall
apart from rendering the police officers concerned liable for
departmental action, they shall also be liable to be punished
for contempt of court to be instituted before the High Court
having territorial jurisdiction.
11.8. Authorising detention without recording reasons as
aforesaid by the Judicial Magistrate concerned shall be liable
for departmental action by the appropriate High Court.”

26. The aforesaid decision, as is perceptible, is in accord with the legislative provision. The directions issued by the Court are in the nature of statutory reminder of a constitutional court to the authorities for proper implementation and not to behave like emperors considering the notion that they can do what they please. In this context, we may refer with profit to a passage from Joginder Kumar v. State of U.P and others:-

“20. … No arrest can be made in a routine manner on a
mere allegation of commission of an offence made against a
person. It would be prudent for a police officer in the interest
of protection of the constitutional rights of a citizen and
perhaps in his own interest that no arrest should be made
without a reasonable satisfaction reached after some
investigation as to the genuineness and bona fides of a
complaint and a reasonable belief both as to the person?s
complicity and even so as to the need to effect arrest.
Denying a person of his liberty is a serious matter. The
recommendations of the Police Commission merely reflect
the constitutional concomitants of the fundamental right to
personal liberty and freedom. A person is not liable to arrest
merely on the suspicion of complicity in an offence. There
must be some reasonable justification in the opinion of the
officer effecting the arrest that such arrest is necessary and
justified. Except in heinous offences, an arrest must be
avoided if a police officer issues notice to person to attend
the Station House and not to leave the Station without
permission would do.”

27. Again, the Court in Joginder Kumar (supra), while voicing its concern regarding complaints of human rights pre and after arrest, observed thus:-

“9. A realistic approach should be made in this direction. The
law of arrest is one of balancing individual rights, liberties and
privileges, on the one hand, and individual duties, obligations
and responsibilities on the other; of weighing and balancing
the rights, liberties and privileges of the single individual and
those of individuals collectively; of simply deciding what is
wanted and where to put the weight and the emphasis; of
deciding which comes first—the criminal or society, the law
violator or the law abider….”

28. In D.K. Basu v. State of W.B., after referring to the authorities in Joginder Kumar (supra), Nilabati Behera v. State of Orissa and others and State of M.P. v. Shyamsunder Trivedi and others, the Court laid down certain guidelines and we think it appropriate to reproduce the same:-

“(1) The police personnel carrying out the arrest and
handling the interrogation of the arrestee should bear
accurate, visible and clear identification and name tags with
their designations. The particulars of all such police
personnel who handle interrogation of the arrestee must be
recorded in a register.

(2) That the police officer carrying out the arrest of the
arrestee shall prepare a memo of arrest at the time of arrest
and such memo shall be attested by at least one witness,
who may either be a member of the family of the arrestee or
a respectable person of the locality from where the arrest is
made. It shall also be countersigned by the arrestee and
shall contain the time and date of arrest.

(3) A person who has been arrested or detained and is
being held in custody in a police station or interrogation
centre or other lock-up, shall be entitled to have one friend or
relative or other person known to him or having interest in
his welfare being informed, as soon as practicable, that he
has been arrested and is being detained at the particular
place, unless the attesting witness of the memo of arrest is
himself such a friend or a relative of the arrestee.

(4) The time, place of arrest and venue of custody of an
arrestee must be notified by the police where the next friend
or relative of the arrestee lives outside the district or town
through the Legal Aid Organisation in the District and the
police station of the area concerned telegraphically within a
period of 8 to 12 hours after the arrest.

(5) The person arrested must be made aware of this right
to have someone informed of his arrest or detention as soon
as he is put under arrest or is detained.

(6) An entry must be made in the diary at the place of
detention regarding the arrest of the person which shall also
disclose the name of the next friend of the person who has
been informed of the arrest and the names and particulars of
the police officials in whose custody the arrestee is.

(7) The arrestee should, where he so requests, be also
examined at the time of his arrest and major and minor
injuries, if any, present on his/her body, must be recorded at
that time. The “Inspection Memo” must be signed both by the
arrestee and the police officer effecting the arrest and its
copy provided to the arrestee.

(8) The arrestee should be subjected to medical
examination by a trained doctor every 48 hours during his
detention in custody by a doctor on the panel of approved
doctors appointed by Director, Health Services of the State
or Union Territory concerned. Director, Health Services
should prepare such a panel for all tehsils and districts as
well.

(9) Copies of all the documents including the memo of
arrest, referred to above, should be sent to the Illaqa
Magistrate for his record.

(10) The arrestee may be permitted to meet his lawyer
during interrogation, though not throughout the interrogation.

(11) A police control room should be provided at all
district and State headquarters, where information regarding
the arrest and the place of custody of the arrestee shall be
communicated by the officer causing the arrest, within 12
hours of effecting the arrest and at the police control room it
should be displayed on a conspicuous notice board.”

29. In Lalita Kumari v. Government of Uttar Pradesh and others, the Constitution Bench, referring to various provisions of CrPC, adverted to the issue of conducting a preliminary enquiry. Eventually, the Court opined that the scope of preliminary enquiry is not to verify the veracity or otherwise of the information received but only to ascertain whether the information reveals any cognizable offence and, thereafter, proceeded to state thus:-

“120.6. As to what type and in which cases preliminary
inquiry is to be conducted will depend on the facts and
circumstances of each case. The category of cases in which
preliminary inquiry may be made are as under:
(a) Matrimonial disputes/family disputes
(b) Commercial offences
(c) Medical negligence cases
(d) Corruption cases
(e) Cases where there is abnormal delay/laches in
initiating criminal prosecution, for example, over 3 months?
delay in reporting the matter without satisfactorily explaining
the reasons for delay.
The aforesaid are only illustrations and not exhaustive of
all conditions which may warrant preliminary inquiry.”

30. From the aforesaid, it is quite vivid that the Constitution Bench had suggested that preliminary enquiry may be held in matrimonial/family disputes.

31. In Rajesh Sharma (supra), as is noticeable, the Court had referred to authorities in Arnesh Kumar (supra) and Lalita Kumari (supra) and observed that:-

“16. Function of this Court is not to legislate but only to
interpret the law. No doubt in doing so laying down of norms
is sometimes unavoidable.11 Just and fair procedure being
part of fundamental right to life,12 interpretation is required to
be placed on a penal provision so that its working is not
unjust, unfair or unreasonable. The court has incidental
power to quash even a non-compoundable case of private
nature, if continuing the proceedings is found to be
oppressive. 13 While stifling a legitimate prosecution is
against public policy, if the proceedings in an offence of
private nature are found to be oppressive, power of quashing
is exercised.

17. We have considered the background of the issue and
also taken into account the 243rd Report of the Law
Commission dated 30th August, 2012, 140th Report of the
Rajya Sabha Committee on Petitions (September, 2011) and
earlier decisions of this Court. We are conscious of the
object for which the provision was brought into the statute. At
the same time, violation of human rights of innocent cannot
be brushed aside. Certain safeguards against uncalled for
arrest or insensitive investigation have been addressed by
this Court. Still, the problem continues to a great extent.

18. To remedy the situation, we are of the view that
involvement of civil society in the aid of administration of
justice can be one of the steps, apart from the investigating
officers and the concerned trial courts being sensitized. It is
also necessary to facilitate closure of proceedings where a
genuine settlement has been reached instead of parties
being required to move High Court only for that purpose.”

32. After so stating, the directions have been issued which we have reproduced in paragraph 15 herein above.

33. On a perusal of the aforesaid paragraphs, we find that the Court has taken recourse to fair procedure and workability of a provision so that there will be no unfairness and unreasonableness in implementation and for the said purpose, it has taken recourse to the path of interpretation. The core issue is whether the Court in Rajesh Sharma (supra) could, by the method of interpretation, have issued such directions. On a perusal of the directions, we find that the Court has directed constitution of the Family Welfare Committees by the District Legal Services Authorities and prescribed the duties of the Committees. The prescription of duties of the Committees and further action therefor, as we find, are beyond the Code and the same does not really flow from any provision of the Code. There can be no denial that there has to be just, fair and reasonable working of a provision. The legislature in its wisdom has made the offence under Section 498-A IPC cognizable and non-bailable. The fault lies with the investigating agency which sometimes jumps into action without application of mind. The directions issued in Arnesh Kumar (supra) are in consonance with the provisions contained in Section 41 CrPC and Section 41-A CrPC. Similarly, the guidelines stated in Joginder Kumar (supra) and D.K. Basu (supra) are within the framework of the Code and the power of superintendence of the authorities in the hierarchical system of the investigating agency. The purpose has been to see that the investigating agency does not abuse the power and arrest people at its whim and fancy.

34. In Rajesh Sharma (supra), there is introduction of a third agency which has nothing to do with the Code and that apart, the Committees have been empowered to suggest a report failing which no arrest can be made. The directions to settle a case after it is registered is not a correct expression of law. A criminal proceeding which is not compundable can be quashed by the High Court under Section 482 CrPC. When settlement takes place, then both the parties can file a petition under Section 482 CrPC and the High Court, considering the bonafide of the petition, may quash the same. The power rests with the High Court. In this regard, we may reproduce a passage from a three-Judge Bench in Gian Singh (supra). In the said case, it has been held that:-

“61. … Inherent power is of wide plenitude with no statutory
limitation but it has to be exercised in accord with the
guideline engrafted in such power viz.: (i) to secure the ends
of justice, or (ii) to prevent abuse of the process of any court.
In what cases power to quash the criminal proceeding or
complaint or FIR may be exercised where the offender and
the victim have settled their dispute would depend on the
facts and circumstances of each case and no category can
be prescribed. However, before exercise of such power, the
High Court must have due regard to the nature and gravity of
the crime. Heinous and serious offences of mental depravity
or offences like murder, rape, dacoity, etc. cannot be fittingly
quashed even though the victim or victim?s family and the
offender have settled the dispute. Such offences are not
private in nature and have a serious impact on society.
Similarly, any compromise between the victim and the
offender in relation to the offences under special statutes like
the Prevention of Corruption Act or the offences committed
by public servants while working in that capacity, etc.; cannot
provide for any basis for quashing criminal proceedings
involving such offences. But the criminal cases having
overwhelmingly and predominatingly civil flavour stand on a
different footing for the purposes of quashing, particularly the
offences arising from commercial, financial, mercantile, civil,
partnership or such like transactions or the offences arising
out of matrimony relating to dowry, etc. or the family disputes
where the wrong is basically private or personal in nature
and the parties have resolved their entire dispute. In this
category of cases, the High Court may quash the criminal
proceedings if in its view, because of the compromise
between the offender and the victim, the possibility of
conviction is remote and bleak and continuation of the
criminal case would put the accused to great oppression and
prejudice and extreme injustice would be caused to him by
not quashing the criminal case despite full and complete
settlement and compromise with the victim.”

35. Though Rajesh Sharma (supra) takes note of Gian Singh (supra), yet it seems to have it applied in a different manner. The seminal issue is whether these directions could have been issued by the process of interpretation. This Court, in furtherance of a fundamental right, has issued directions in the absence of law in certain cases, namely, Lakshmi Kant Pandey v. Union of India, Vishaka and others v. State of Rajasthan and others and Common Cause (A Registered Society) v. Union of India and another and some others. In the obtaining factual matrix, there are statutory provisions and judgments in the field and, therefore, the directions pertaining to constitution of a Committee and conferment of power on the said Committee is erroneous. However, the directions pertaining to Red Corner Notice, clubbing of cases and postulating that recovery of disputed dowry items may not by itself be a ground for denial of bail would stand on a different footing. They are protective in nature and do not sound a discordant note with the Code. When an application for bail is entertained, proper conditions have to be imposed but recovery of disputed dowry items may not by itself be a ground while rejecting an application for grant of bail under Section 498-A IPC. That cannot be considered at that stage. Therefore, we do not find anything erroneous in direction Nos. 19(iv) and (v). So far as direction No. 19(vi) and 19(vii) are concerned, an application has to be filed either under Section 205 CrPC or Section 317 CrPC depending upon the stage at which the exemption is sought. 36. We have earlier stated that some of the directions issued in Rajesh Sharma (supra) have the potential to enter into the legislative field. A three-Judge Bench in Suresh Seth v. Commissioner, Indore Municipal Corporation and others ruled thus:-

“5. … In our opinion, this is a matter of policy for the elected
representatives of people to decide and no direction in this
regard can be issued by the Court. That apart this Court
cannot issue any direction to the legislature to make any
particular kind of enactment. Under our constitutional
scheme Parliament and Legislative Assemblies exercise
sovereign power to enact laws and no outside power or
authority can issue a direction to enact a particular piece of
legislation. In Supreme Court Employees’ Welfare Assn. v.
Union of India18 (SCC para 51) it has been held that no court
can direct a legislature to enact a particular law. Similarly,
when an executive authority exercises a legislative power by
way of a subordinate legislation pursuant to the delegated
authority of a legislature, such executive authority cannot be
asked to enact a law which it has been empowered to do
under the delegated legislative authority. …”

37. Another three-Judge Bench in Census Commissioner and others v. R. Krishnamurthy , after referring to N.D. Jayal and another v. Union of India and others , Rustom Cavasjee Cooper v. Union of India , Premium Granites and another v. State of T.N. and others , M.P. Oil Extraction and another v. State of M.P. and others , State of Madhya Pradesh v. Narmada Bachao Andolan and another24 and State of Punjab and others v. Ram Lubhaya Bagga and others , opined:-

“33. From the aforesaid pronouncement of law, it is clear as
noon day that it is not within the domain of the courts to
embark upon an enquiry as to whether a particular public
policy is wise and acceptable or whether a better policy
could be evolved. The court can only interfere if the policy
framed is absolutely capricious or not informed by reasons
or totally arbitrary and founded ipse dixit offending the basic
requirement of Article 14 of the Constitution. In certain
matters, as often said, there can be opinions and opinions
but the court is not expected to sit as an appellate authority
on an opinion.”

38. In the aforesaid analysis, while declaring the directions pertaining to Family Welfare Committee and its constitution by the District Legal Services Authority and the power conferred on the Committee is impermissible. Therefore, we think it appropriate to direct that the investigating officers be careful and be guided by the principles stated in Joginder Kumar (supra), D.K. Basu (supra), Lalita Kumari (supra) and Arnesh Kumar (supra). It will also be appropriate to direct the Director General of Police of each State to ensure that investigating officers who are in charge of investigation of cases of offences under Section 498-A IPC should be imparted rigorous training with regard to the principles stated by this Court relating to arrest.

39. In view of the aforesaid premises, the direction contained in paragraph 19(i) as a whole is not in accord with the statutory framework and the direction issued in paragraph 19(ii) shall be read in conjunction with the direction given herein above.

40. Direction No. 19(iii) is modified to the extent that if a settlement is arrived at, the parties can approach the High Court under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and the High Court, keeping in view the law laid down in Gian Singh (supra), shall dispose of the same.

41. As far as direction Nos. 19(iv), 19(v) and 19(vi) and 19(vii) are concerned, they shall be governed by what we have stated in paragraph

42. With the aforesaid modifications in the directions issued in Rajesh Sharma (supra), the writ petitions and criminal appeal stand disposed of. There shall be no order as to costs.

(Dipak Misra)
(A.M. Khanwilkar)
(Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud)
New Delhi;
September 14 , 2018.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Not found ...? HOW TO WIN 498a, DV, DIVORCE; Search in Above link

All Law documents and Judgment copies
Laws and Bare Acts of India
Important SC/HC Judgements on 498A IPC
Rules and Regulations of India.

STUDY REPORTS

Copyright © 2018 MyNation KnowledgeBase
eXTReMe Tracker
×

Free Legal Help just WhatsApp Away

MyNation HELP line

We are Not Lawyers but No Lawyer will give you Advice like We do

Please to read Group Rules – CLICK HERE, If You agree then Please Register CLICK HERE and after registrationJOIN WELCOME GROUP HERE

We handle Women centric biased laws like False 498A, Domestic Violence(DV ACT), Divorce, Maintenance, Alimony, Child Custody, HMA 24, 125 CrPc, 307,312, 313,323 376, 377, 406, 420, 506, 509; and also TEP, RTI etc

Web Design BangladeshWeb Design BangladeshMymensingh