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SC Mandates Preliminary Inquiry in Dowry Cases

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SC Mandates Preliminary Inquiry in Dowry Cases

The Supreme Court ruled that the police cannot arrest or take coercive action against persons involved in Dowry cases without ascertaining the veracity of allegations by conducting preliminary inquiry. The court expressed concern about the misusing and taking advantage by disgruntle wives who put their husband and relatives including parents, siblings, grandparents and minors under section 498A of Indian Penal Code for domestic violence and let them undergo in prison as prescribed time by the Code.

A bench of Justice A K Goel and Justice UU Lalit said that it was high time such frivolous cases which violated the human rights of innocent but after issued such landmark judgment women won’t be able to take such growing trend in which they implicate their husband and his relatives in frivolous cases.

To prevent the misuse of anti-dowry laws, the Supreme Court directed the District Legal Services Authorities (DLSA) to constitute a three member welfare committee which would scrutinize complaints before conducting arrests of such persons involved therein. The Apex court also pointed out about amicable settlement in matrimonial disputes. However, the court clarified that the order would not be applicable in such cases where physical injuries or death occurred.

The committee would interact with concerned parties personally or by means of telephonic or electronic communication and give a report within a month to the authority, in addition the report would be on the factual aspects and its opinion in the matter. No arrest should be effected till the report of committee is received. The report would be either considered by investigating officer or competent Magistrate on its own merit, the bench said.

Further the bench said that the judgment as safeguards for accused who are roped by their disgruntled wives in frivolous cases feloniously, which is made to see for six months how the arrangement worked and sough a report from the National Legal Services Authority by march 31, 2018 and would go through each aspect of report if there is need for any change in its directions.

The Supreme Court, however, said that the Dowry act is made to protect the victim under section 498A of IPC, not to take misuse of Omnibus allegations against all relatives of the husband and this exploitation cannot be taken at face value. The Bench found that most such complaints are filed in the heat of the moment over trivial issues and this act can lead to harassment of not only the accused but also the complainant. An arrest without the proper safeguards would be equivalent to brushing aside the human rights of the accused and could ruin the chances of amicable settlement.

It is also defined by the bench that the parameters for bail pleas should be dealt with on an expeditious basis preferably the same day the appeal is filed.