The Supreme Court on Friday allowed immediate arrests in connection with dowry harassment cases under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The apex court had earlier said that every complaint under Section 498A should be scrutinised by the Family Welfare Committees after which arrests should be made.
Amending its order, the CJI-led three-judge bench observed that the misuse of Section 498A has caused social unrest but added that it’s not for the courts to fill in legislative gaps. It observed that there are inbuilt remedies in Criminal Procedure to check misuse of law, like Section 41A notice, anticipatory bail etc.
Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code says: Husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty. – Whoever, being the husband or the relative of the husband of a woman, subjects such woman to cruelty shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine. Explanation.—For the purpose of this section, “cruelty” means—
(a) any wilful conduct which is of such a nature as is likely to drive the woman to commit suicide or to cause grave injury or danger to life, limb or health (whether mental or physical) of the woman; or
(b) harassment of the woman where such harassment is with a view to coercing her or any person related to her to meet any unlawful demand for any property or valuable security or is on account of failure by her or any person related to her to meet such demand.