AHMEDABAD: The Gujarat high court has advised women not to rush to the police over minor matrimonial disputes because involving the police may destroy all chances of reconciliation with their spouses. The court also criticized the tendency to use the police machinery for holding husbands to ransom.
The high court said that Section 498-A of the IPC (prevention of cruelty, including making demands for dowry) cannot be invoked for trivial incidents. "Every matrimonial conduct, which may cause annoyance to the other party, may not amount to cruelty. Mere trivial irritations, quarrels between spouses, which happen in day-to-day married life, may also not amount to cruelty," observed Justice J B Pardiwala while quashing the charge of harassment for dowry filed against her in-laws by a woman.
The high court was hearing a quashing petition filed by a family from Padra near Vadodara. In the case, the daughter-in-law had levelled charges of harassment related to dowry and had filed a criminal case against her in-laws in response to her husband's divorce suit.
Criticizing the practice of filing false complaints under Section 498-A of IPC, the court said that nowadays women ensure that all relatives of her husband are dragged to court. "Many times the services of professionals are availed of and once the complaint is drafted by a legal mind, it would be very difficult thereafter to pick any loopholes or other deficiencies in the same. However, that does not mean that the court should shut its eyes and raise its hands in helplessness," said the court.
SC has barred 'automatic arrests' in dowry cases
In July, the Supreme Court had said that women were increasingly using the anti-dowry law to harass in-laws and it had restrained the police from mechanically arresting the husband and his relatives on mere lodging of a complaint under Section 498A of the IPC. It cited abysmal conviction rate in such cases and directed the state governments to instruct the police "not to automatically arrest when a case under Section 498A of IPC is registered but to [first] satisfy themselves about the necessity for arrest under the parameters (checklist) provided under Section 41 of the criminal procedure code".
Section 41 of CrPC lays down a 9-point checklist for police to weigh the need to arrest after examining the conduct of the accused, including the possibility of his absconding.