HC gives guidelines on Section 498A
HYDERABAD: Finding fault with a woman who implicated the parents of her mother-in-law and the families of her husband's sisters currently residing abroad in a dowry harassment case under section 498 A of the IPC, the high court has issued certain guidelines to the state police to enforce the anti-dowry law. One of the main directions given is not to arrest the accused involved in dowry harassment cases without securing the permission of the district SP or any other officer of the equal rank in metropolitan cities.
Justice B Chandra Kumar pronounced this judgment while allowing a criminal petition filed by Syed Kaleemuallah Hussaini and three others seeking anticipatory bail in a dowry harassment case. In his order, the judge said that no accused should be arrested when the allegation is simple dowry harassment. "If arrest is necessary, the investigating officer should obtain the permission of either the SP or any other officer of the equal rank in metropolitan cities."
The judge directed the magistrates to ensure that no accused was remanded in judicial custody in a routine manner. When an accused is produced before the magistrate, the court should examine the matter judiciously and consider whether there are valid grounds for remanding the accused to judicial custody, the judge said. If arrest is not necessary, the police may complete the investigation and file a chargesheet before the court without arresting the accused, he said.
The judge made it clear that in the case of dowry death, suspicious death, and suicide or where the allegations are serious in nature, the police officer may arrest the accused and intimate the same immediately to the SP concerned. The judge ruled that no accused or witness should be unnecessarily called to the police station, and in case their presence is required for enquiry, they should be sent back immediately after completion of the process.
"During the investigation, if the officer is satisfied that there is an undue implication of a person in the case, then he may delete the names of such persons from the chargesheet after obtaining necessary permission from the SP or any other officer of the same rank", the judge said. "As soon as a complaint is received either from the wife alleging dowry harassment or from the husband that there is possibility of his being implicated in a case of dowry harassment, then, both the parties should be asked to undergo counselling with an experienced counsellor," the judge said and directed that the report of the counsellors should be made a part of the report to be submitted by the investigating officer to the court.
The judge also ruled that the SP in consultation with the chairman of the district legal services authority should constitute a panel of counsellors and details of such a panel along with their address and phone numbers should be made available at all the police stations.
Senior police officers should ensure that there are no complaints of forcible settlements or compromises made by the police. The advocates should play the role of social reformers and try to bring about reconciliation between bickering couples while dealing with such cases, particularly, where the couples have children, he said.
The judge in his order lamented that "it is most unfortunate that Section 498-A of IPC has become a weapon in breaking the families rather than uniting them."
He also said that there cannot be any doubt to say that there is dowry menace in the society. But, at the same time, it is also a fact that certain marriages are performed without any dowry. Due to ill-advice or under a wrong impression that the husband may come to terms if a dowry case is lodged, complaints are being lodged with the police, the judge opined. While directing the registry to mark a copy of this judgment to the DGP, justice Chandra Kumar wanted the DGP to issue necessary instructions to all the men under him in the state in this regard.