SC: SC: dowry law the most misused, abused law in India. Police shld follow 9 point checklist as per 41 crpc
The Supreme Court on Wednesday said women were increasingly using the anti-dowry law to harass in-laws and restrained police from mechanically arresting the husband and his relatives on mere lodging of a complaint under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code.
Citing very low conviction rate in such cases, it directed the state governments to instruct police “not to automatically arrest when a case under Section 498A of IPC is registered but to satisfy themselves about the necessity for arrest under the parameters (check list) provided under Section 41 of Criminal Procedure Code“.
Section 41 lays down a nine-point check list police to weigh the need to arrest after examining the conduct of the accused, in cluding possibility of his absconding.
If police arrested the accused, “the magistrate, while authorizing detention of the accused shall peruse the report furnished by the police officer in terms of Section 41 and only after recording its satisfaction…will authorize detention,“ the bench bench of Justices C K Prasad and P C Ghose said. It also said that this checklist for arrest and detention would apply to all offences, which are punished with a prison term less than 7 years. Punishment under Section 498A is a maximum of three years but it had been made a cognizable and nonbailable offence, which made grant of bail to the accused a rarity in courts.
But the court singled out the dowry harassment cases as the most abused and misused provision, though the legislature had enacted it with the laudable object to prevent harassment of women in matrimonial homes.
Writing the judgment for the bench, Justice Prasad said there had been a phenomenal increase in dowry harass
ment cases in India in the last few years. “The fact that Section 498A 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,” he said.
“The simplest way to harass is to get the husband and his relatives arrested under this provision. In a quite number of cases, bed-ridden grand-fathers and grandmothers of the husbands, their sisters living abroad for decades are arrested,” he said.
or long now, concerns have been expressed about stringent anti-dowry laws being misused by some women to harass or blackmail their in-laws. These apprehensions have not only been expressed by courts, women’s activists too have acknowledged that such misuse is not unknown. It was, therefore, necessary for the law to take this reality into account.
The apex court’s order does just that. Automatic arrest was one of the provisions that lent itself most to abuse and making it mandatory for a magistrate to sanction arrest should help curb this abuse of law. Beyond that, there’s a lesson for all of us – social ills can’t be eliminated just by enacting laws, as India tends to do. Society as a whole needs to join the movement against them.
Pls find the judgment below:-
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
STATE OF BIHAR & ANR. …. RESPONDENTS
J U D G M E N T
Chandramauli Kr. Prasad
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 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 1st 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.
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 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, 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 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 despicable. It has become a handy tool to the police officers who lack sensitivity or act with oblique motive.
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 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 177th 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 152nd and 154th 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:
“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,
(i) x x x x x
(ii) the police officer is satisfied that such arrest is necessary –
to prevent such person from committing any further offence; or
for proper investigation of the offence; or
to prevent such person 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 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
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
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 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 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 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 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 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
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:
“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.”
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.
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 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:
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;
All police officers be provided with a check list containing specified sub-
clauses under Section 41(1)(b)(ii);
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
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;
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;
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;
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.
Authorising detention without recording reasons as aforesaid by the
judicial 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.
By order dated 31st of October, 2013, this Court had granted
provisional bail to the appellant on certain conditions. We make this order
In the result, we allow this appeal, making our aforesaid order dated 31st
October, 2013 absolute; with the directions aforesaid.
(CHANDRAMAULI KR. PRASAD)
(PINAKI CHANDRA GHOSE)
July 2, 2014.