SC: Guidelines in 498A cases


Court :
Supreme Court of India

Brief :
Emphasing the fact that Section 498-A is a cognizable and non-bailable offence which has lent it a dubious place of pride amongst the provisions that are used as weapons rather than shield by disgruntled wives the Supreme Court bench comprising of Justices Chandramauli Kr. Prasad and Pinaki Chandra Ghose issued the following directions to ensure that police officers do not arrest accused unnecessarily and Magistrate do not authorise detention casually and mechanically: (1) All the State Governments to instruct its police officers not to automatically arrest when a case under Section 498-A of the IPC is registered but to satisfy themselves about the necessity for arrest under the parameters laid down above flowing from Section 41, Cr.PC; (2) All police officers be provided with a check list containing specified sub-clauses under Section 41(1)(b)(ii); (3) The police officer shall forward the check list duly filed and furnish the reasons and materials which necessitated the arrest, while forwarding/producing the accused before the Magistrate for further detention; (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; (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; (6) Notice of appearance in terms of Section 41A of Cr.PC 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; (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 High Court having territorial jurisdiction. (8) Authorising detention without recording reasons as aforesaid by the judicial Magistrate concerned shall be liable for departmental action by the appropriate High Court.

Citation :
-

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 1277  OF 2014

(@SPECIAL LEAVE PETITION (CRL.) No.9127 of 2013)

ARNESH KUMAR ..... APPELLANT

VERSUS

STATE OF BIHAR & ANR.        .... RESPONDENTS

J U D G M E N T

Chandramauli Kr. Prasad 

REPORTABLE

The petitioner apprehends his arrest in a case 

under Section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 

(hereinafter called as IPC) and Section 4 of the 

Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961.  The maximum sentence 

provided under Section 498-A IPC is imprisonment 

for a term which may extend to three years and 

fine whereas the maximum sentence provided under 

Page 1

Section  4  of  the  Dowry  Prohibition  Act  is  two 

years and with fine.

Petitioner  happens  to  be  the  husband  of 

respondent no.2 Sweta Kiran.  The marriage between 

them was solemnized on 1

st

  July, 2007. His attempt 

to secure anticipatory bail has failed and hence 

he has knocked the door of this Court by way of 

this Special Leave Petition.

Leave granted.

2

In sum and substance, allegation levelled by 

the wife against the appellant is that demand of 

Rupees eight lacs, a maruti car, an          air-

conditioner, television set etc. was made by her 

mother-in-law and father-in-law and when this fact 

was  brought  to  the  appellant’s  notice,  he 

supported  his  mother  and  threatened  to  marry 

another woman.  It has been alleged that she was 

Page 2

3

driven  out  of  the  matrimonial  home  due  to  non-

fulfilment of the demand of dowry.

Denying  these  allegations,  the  appellant 

preferred  an  application  for  anticipatory  bail 

which was earlier rejected by the learned Sessions 

Judge and thereafter by the High Court.

There  is  phenomenal  increase  in  matrimonial 

disputes  in  recent  years.   The  institution  of 

marriage  is  greatly  revered  in  this  country. 

Section  498-A  of  the  IPC  was  introduced  with 

avowed object to combat the menace of harassment 

to a woman at the hands of her husband and his 

relatives.   The  fact  that  Section  498-A  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.  In a quite number of cases, 

Page 3

4

bed-ridden grand-fathers and grand-mothers of the 

husbands, their sisters living abroad for decades 

are arrested.  “Crime in India 2012  Statistics” 

published  by  National  Crime  Records  Bureau, 

Ministry of Home Affairs shows arrest of 1,97,762 

persons all over India during the year 2012 for 

offence under Section 498-A of the IPC, 9.4% more 

than the year 2011.  Nearly a quarter of those 

arrested under this provision in 2012 were women 

i.e. 47,951 which depicts that mothers and sisters 

of the husbands were liberally included in their 

arrest  net.   Its  share  is  6%  out  of  the  total 

persons arrested under the crimes committed under 

Indian Penal Code.  It accounts for 4.5% of total 

crimes committed under different sections of penal 

code, more than any other crimes excepting theft 

and hurt.  The rate of charge-sheeting in cases 

under Section 498A, IPC is as high as 93.6%, while 

the conviction rate is only 15%, which is lowest 

across all heads.  As many as 3,72,706 cases are 

Page 4

5

pending trial of which on current estimate, nearly 

3,17,000 are likely to result in acquittal.   

Arrest  brings  humiliation,  curtails  freedom 

and cast scars forever.  Law makers know it so 

also the police.  There is a battle between the 

law makers and the police and it seems that police 

has not learnt its lesson; the lesson implicit and 

embodied in the Cr.PC.  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 emphasized time and again by 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 

Page 5

despicable.  It has become a handy tool to the 

police officers who lack sensitivity or act with 

oblique motive.

6

Law Commissions, Police Commissions and this 

Court in a large number of judgments emphasized 

the need to maintain a balance between individual 

liberty  and  societal  order  while  exercising  the 

power of arrest.  Police officers make arrest as 

they believe that they possess the power to do so. 

As the arrest curtails freedom, brings humiliation 

and casts scars forever, we feel differently.  We 

believe  that  no  arrest  should  be  made  only 

because the offence is non-bailable and cognizable 

and therefore,  lawful for the police officers to 

do so.  The existence of the power to arrest is 

one thing, the justification for the exercise of 

it is quite another. Apart from power to arrest, 

the police officers must be able to justify the 

reasons  thereof.   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 

Page 6

prudent  and  wise  for  a  police  officer  that  no 

arrest is made without a reasonable satisfaction 

reached  after  some  investigation  as  to  the 

genuineness of the allegation. Despite this legal 

position,  the  Legislature  did  not  find  any 

improvement.   Numbers  of  arrest  have  not 

decreased.   Ultimately,  the  Parliament  had  to 

intervene and on the recommendation of the 177

Report of the Law Commission submitted in the year 

2001, Section 41 of the Code of Criminal Procedure 

(for short ‘Cr.PC), in the present form came to be 

enacted.  It is interesting to note that such a 

recommendation was made by the Law Commission in 

its 152

nd

 and 154

th

7

 Report submitted as back in the 

year  1994.   The  value  of  the  proportionality 

permeates the amendment relating to arrest.  As 

the  offence  with  which  we  are  concerned  in  the 

present appeal, provides for a maximum punishment 

of imprisonment which may extend to seven years 

and  fine,  Section  41(1)(b),  Cr.PC  which  is 

relevant for the purpose reads as follows:

th 

Page 7

8

“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)x  x  x  x x  x

(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) x x x x x

(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,

Page 8

9

 

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.

X x  x x x x 

From a plain reading of the aforesaid provision, 

it is evident that a person accused of 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  its 

satisfaction that such person had committed the 

offence punishable as aforesaid.  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 

Page 9

10

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.  Law mandates the police officer 

to  state  the  facts  and  record  the  reasons  in 

writing which led him to come to a conclusion 

covered  by  any  of  the  provisions  aforesaid, 

while making such arrest.  Law further requires 

the  police  officers  to  record  the  reasons  in 

writing for not making the arrest.  In pith and 

core, the police office 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 

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11

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 of Cr.PC.

An  accused  arrested  without  warrant  by 

the  police  has  the  constitutional  right  under 

Article 22(2) of the Constitution of India and 

Section  57,  Cr.PC  to  be  produced  before  the 

Magistrate without unnecessary delay and in no 

circumstances beyond 24 hours excluding the time 

necessary for the journey.  During the course of 

investigation of a case, an accused can be kept 

in detention beyond a period of 24 hours only 

when  it  is  authorised  by  the  Magistrate  in 

Page 11

12

exercise of power under Section 167 Cr.PC.  The 

power to authorise detention is a very solemn 

function.  It affects the liberty and freedom of 

citizens and needs to be exercised with great 

care and caution. Our experience tells us that 

it  is  not  exercised  with  the  seriousness  it 

deserves.  In  many  of  the  cases,  detention  is 

authorised  in  a  routine,  casual  and  cavalier 

manner.   Before  a  Magistrate  authorises 

detention under Section 167, Cr.PC, he has to be 

first satisfied that the arrest made is legal 

and  in  accordance  with  law  and  all  the 

constitutional rights of the person arrested is 

satisfied.  If the arrest effected by the police 

officer  does  not  satisfy  the  requirements  of 

Section 41 of the Code, Magistrate is duty bound 

not  to  authorise  his  further  detention  and 

release the accused.  In other words, when an 

accused is produced before the Magistrate,  the 

police officer effecting the arrest is required 

to furnish to the Magistrate, the facts, reasons 

Page 12

13

and  its  conclusions  for  arrest  and  the 

Magistrate  in  turn  is  to  be  satisfied  that 

condition precedent for arrest under Section 41 

Cr.PC  has  been  satisfied  and  it  is  only 

thereafter that he will authorise the detention 

of  an  accused.   The  Magistrate  before 

authorising  detention  will  record  its  own 

satisfaction,  may  be  in  brief  but   the  said 

satisfaction must reflect from its order.  It 

shall never be based upon the ipse dixit of the 

police officer, for example, in case the police 

officer  considers  the  arrest  necessary  to 

prevent such person from committing any further 

offence or for proper investigation of the case 

or for preventing an accused from tampering with 

evidence or making inducement etc., the police 

officer  shall  furnish  to  the  Magistrate  the 

facts, the reasons and materials on the basis of 

which  the  police  officer  had  reached  its 

conclusion.   Those  shall  be  perused  by  the 

Magistrate while authorising the detention and 

Page 13

only after recording its satisfaction in writing 

that the Magistrate will authorise the detention 

of  the  accused.   In  fine,  when  a  suspect  is 

arrested  and  produced  before  a  Magistrate  for 

authorising  detention,  the  Magistrate  has  to 

address  the  question  whether  specific  reasons 

have been recorded for arrest and if so, prima 

facie those reasons are relevant and secondly a 

reasonable conclusion could at all be reached by 

the  police  officer  that  one  or  the  other 

conditions stated above are attracted.  To this 

limited extent the Magistrate will make judicial 

scrutiny.

14

Another provision i.e. Section 41A Cr.PC 

aimed to avoid unnecessary arrest or threat of 

arrest looming large on accused requires to be 

vitalised.   Section 41A as inserted by Section 

6 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment) 

Act, 2008(Act 5 of 2009), which is relevant in 

the context reads as follows:

Page 14

15

“41A.  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.”

Page 15

Aforesaid  provision  makes  it  clear  that 

in all cases where the arrest of a person is not 

required under Section 41(1), Cr.PC, 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 

office  is  of  the  opinion  that  the  arrest  is 

necessary.  At this stage also, the condition 

precedent for arrest as envisaged under Section 

41 Cr.PC has to be complied and shall be subject 

to  the  same  scrutiny  by  the  Magistrate  as 

aforesaid.  

16

We  are  of  the  opinion  that  if  the 

provisions of Section 41, Cr.PC which authorises 

the police officer to arrest an accused without 

an order from a Magistrate and without a warrant 

Page 16

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 

Cr.PC  for  effecting  arrest  be  discouraged  and 

discontinued.

Our endeavour in this judgment is to ensure 

that  police  officers  do  not  arrest  accused 

unnecessarily  and  Magistrate  do  not  authorise 

detention casually and mechanically.  In order 

to ensure what we have observed above, we give 

the following direction:

17

(1) All the State Governments to instruct its 

police officers not to automatically arrest 

when a case under Section 498-A of the IPC 

is  registered  but  to  satisfy  themselves 

about  the  necessity  for  arrest  under  the 

Page 17

parameters  laid  down  above  flowing  from 

Section 41, Cr.PC;

(2) All  police  officers  be  provided  with  a 

check list containing specified sub-clauses 

under Section 41(1)(b)(ii);

(3) The police officer shall forward the check 

list duly filed and furnish the reasons and 

materials  which  necessitated  the  arrest, 

while  forwarding/producing  the  accused 

before  the  Magistrate  for  further 

detention;

(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;

18

(5) The decision not to arrest an accused, be 

forwarded  to  the  Magistrate  within  two 

weeks from the date of the institution of 

Page 18

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;

(6) Notice  of  appearance  in  terms  of  Section 

41A  of  Cr.PC  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;

19

(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 High Court having 

territorial jurisdiction.  

(8) Authorising  detention  without  recording 

reasons  as  aforesaid  by  the  judicial 

Page 19

Magistrate  concerned  shall  be  liable  for 

departmental action by the appropriate High 

Court.

We  hasten  to  add  that  the  directions 

aforesaid shall not only apply to the cases 

under Section 498-A of the I.P.C. or Section 4 

of  the  Dowry  Prohibition  Act,  the  case  in 

hand,  but  also  such  cases  where  offence  is 

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.

We direct that a copy of this judgment be 

forwarded to the Chief Secretaries as also the 

Director Generals of Police of all the State 

Governments and the Union Territories and the 

Registrar General of all the High Courts for 

onward  transmission  and  ensuring  its 

compliance. 

20

Page 20

By order dated 31

st

 of October, 2013, this 

Court  had  granted  provisional  bail  to  the 

appellant on certain conditions. We make this 

order absolute. 

In  the  result,  we  allow  this  appeal, 

making our aforesaid order dated 31

st

2013 absolute; with the directions aforesaid.

 October, 

   ………………………………………………………………J

   (CHANDRAMAULI KR. PRASAD)

   ………………………………………………………………J

                 (PINAKI CHANDRA GHOSE)

NEW DELHI,

July 2, 2014. 

21

Page 21

 

Vineet Kumar
on 03 July 2014
Published in Family Law
Views : 5982
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