Follow provisions of Dowry Act strictly, HC tells officials
The first bench comprising Chief Justice HL Gokhale and Justice D Murugesan passed the order on a public interest writ petition filed by R Natarajan on behalf of N S Malini recently.
The petitioner, lamenting that police resorted to instantaneous arrests in case of dowry-related complaints, said that the force committed procedural violations in bypassing the mandatory provisions of the Act. Once a dowry complaint is received, police must communicate it to the dowry prohibition officers. As per Rule 5 of the Tamil Nadu Dowry Prohibition Rules 2004, the dowry prohibition officers themselves can receive, register and investigate complaints.
While so, the practice of police officials receiving complaints and straightaway seeking to arrest the in-laws has been continuing in the state, the petitioner said.
When the matter was taken up, the court was informed that the government had completed appointment of dowry prohibition officers in all the districts in Tamil Nadu.
Recording the statement, the judges said the officers must conduct surprise checks and discreet inquiries before taking appropriate action. Noting that the officers must ensure full compliance of the provisions of the Act.
Apply 'judicial mind' in dowry remand cases, says HC
CHENNAI: Except in cases of grave offences such as dowry death, murder, suicide and hurt, magistrates handling matrimonial disputes should not remand spouses and their kin to judicial custody, the Madras High Court has said. (Once remanded in judicial custody, an arrested person is sent to jail. He will be released only if the competent court grants bail to him).
Magistrates should apply their "judicial mind" before remanding any of the accused in judicial custody, and remand orders should not be passed mechanically, said Justice R Regupathi on Tuesday. He was passing the order after the state government filed a report, stating that the 11-point guideline laid down by the judge on July 7 had been complied with. The Director General of Police has already issued a circular memorandum to all commissioners of police and superintendents of police, it was informed. The guideline cautioned the police against making indiscriminate and unwarranted arrests in matrimonial disputes.
On Tuesday, stressing the need to sensitise the subordinate judiciary in this regard, Justice Regupathi said: "A requisition of remand by the police must accompany the case diary, and the magistrate must satisfy himself as to the genuine grounds necessitating judicial custody. He must be alert to see that the liberty of the citizen is not violated by the police due to arbitrary exercise of power. Though a detailed order is not required for remand, application of judicial mind is absolutely necessary."
The ultimate object of every legal system is to punish the guilty and protect the innocents, Justice Regupathi said: "Our experience shows that (in matrimonial cases) apart from the husband all family members are implicated and dragged to police stations. Though arrest of those persons is not at all necessary , in a number of cases, such harassment is made simply to satisfy the ego and anger of the complainant."
He further said: "Though the law is manifestly clear, plain and paten, in many cases it is witnessed that on the request of the investigating officers, remand is ordered mechanically without application of mind and such illegal practice must be avoided."