On 27th July, 2017, the apex court of India ruled out the provision of immediate arrest by police in dowry Harassment cases. The police before making the arrest will now have to conduct a preliminary inquiry like it does in other cases.
There were many cases filed over the years alleging the misuse of the anti-dowry harassment law. This order has come as a relief to many who are framed by their wives. This law was framed in 1983 following many dowry-related deaths.
In July 2014, the top court had issued a 41 point checklist and had directed the police to consult the list before making any arrest. The court had also suggested that the act must be amended by the ministry.
The division bench consisting of Justice AK Goel and Justice UU Lalit, said that the anti dowry harassment law can into being in order to punish the cruelty of husband and his relatives which drives a wife to commit suicide.
Keeping in mind the current misuse of the law, the court has ordered for the set up of family welfare committees in every district across the country. The court held that when a complaint is made under S.498A of the Indian Penal Code, it must be referred to the Committee which shall look into the matter.
The court has also laid down the procedure to be followed by the committee. According to this procedure, the committee must call the couple and their respective families to discuss the matter. The committee shall then submit a report to the local Magistrate. An arrest can be made only when the report made by the committee point out any foul play by the husband.
The apex court said that one of the steps will be to aid in the closure of the proceedings where a valid settlement has been reached by the parties.
This judgment came in a petition filed against the order of the Allahabad High Court by Rajesh Sharma.