The city police will not arrest the accused in dowry harassment cases, as it was done earlier, following guidelines set by the Supreme Court which expressed its anguish over the abuse of provisions related to such instances.
Section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) states that an accused in a dowry harassment case can be arrested, as it is a cognisable offence.
Joint commissioner of police (crime), Alok Kumar said that it was necessary to find out whether the complaints under the dowry harassment provisions were genuine or made with mala fide intention. “We are now checking all aspects, including a thorough preliminary investigation before taking up a case further.
Earlier, it was our duty to arrest the accused in the case for questioning which included the husband and in-laws arraigned in the complaint,” he said.
However, he said that statistics of cases under 498-A of IPC in the last three years remained stable.
“In the year 2008, 307 cases were registered in the city, while in 2009 there were about 367 and the current year we have recorded 323 cases till November end,” said Kumar.
In most of the cases, the arrests were minimal and only those proved beyond doubt that the cases were genuine. But after the Supreme Court observed that it was a general practice in India to file criminal cases for dowry harassment and held that it was a non-bailable offence, the police become more careful before arresting the accused, he said.
“The provisions were strict so as to render justice to the victims of dowry menace that was prevailing in the country. It was meant to protect the rights of women, who were considered as the deprived lot of the society,” said eminent lawyer CV Sudhindra.
The Supreme Court observed that often the entire family of the husband gets behind the bars. “There are thousands of cases which are pending in courts.
The siblings of the husband are usually falsely implicated to settle scores. We come across a large number of such complaints which are not even bona fide and are filed with oblique motive,” the Supreme Court said in one of its recent orders on a case of dowry harassment.
The court held that criminal trials led to immense suffering to the accused. Even ultimate acquittal in the trial may also not be able to wipe out the deep scars of suffering due to ignominy. Unfortunately, a large number of these complaints have not only flooded the courts but also led to enormous social unrest affecting peace, harmony and happiness of the society. The court also asked the Union law ministry to review the Dowry Harassment Laws in the larger interest of the society.
The court said that experience revealed that long and protracted criminal trials led to rancour, acrimony and bitterness in the relationship among the parties. It is also a matter of common knowledge that in cases filed by the complainant if the husband or the husband’s relations had to remain in jail even for a few days, it would ruin the chances of amicable settlement altogether.