The Home Ministry has asked all state governments to be judicious in slapping the stringent anti-dowry section of IPC in matrimonial disputes as the provision may be used as “weapons rather than shields by disgruntled wives“.
In an advisory to the states and union territories, the Ministry has asked them to instruct their police officers not to automatically arrest a person 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 flowing from Section 41, CrPC (When police may arrest without warrant).
According to Section 498A of IPC, husband of a woman or his relatives subjecting her to cruelty shall be punishable with imprisonment for up to three years and fine.
The Home Ministry advisory quoted a Supreme Court observation which said there is a phenomenal increase in matrimonial disputes in recent years and the fact that section 498-A of IPC is a cognisable and non-bailable offence has lent it a dubious place of pride among the provisions that are used as a weapons rather than shields by disgruntled wives.
“All the state governments/Union Territory administrations are requested to take effective measures to scrupulously enforce the directions/order of the Hon’ble Supreme Court as also advisories issued by the government of India from time to time,” the Home Ministry said.
The state governments have been asked to provide all police officers with a check list including the reasons and materials which necessitated the arrest, while forwarding/ producing the accused before the magistrate for further detention.
The magistrate, while authorising detention of the accused, shall peruse the report furnished by the police officer along the 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, the advisory said.
Notice of appearance in terms of Section 41A of CrPC be served on the accused within two weeks from the date of institution of the case, which may be extended by the SP of the district for reasons to be recorded in writing.
Failure to comply with directions aforesaid shall, apart from rendering the police officers concerned liable for departmental action, also make the officers liable to be punished for contempt of court to be instituted before the high court having territorial jurisdiction.
The judicial magistrate concerned shall be liable for departmental action by the appropriate high court if he authorises detention without recording the reasons, as aforesaid, the Home Ministry said quoting the Supreme Court order.