Supreme Court directs police not to automatically arrest person against whom case is registered under Section 498-A IPC or Dowry Prohibition Act

Supreme Court directs police not to automatically arrest person against whom case is registered under Section 498-A IPC or Dowry Prohibition Act.

Every year thousands of dowry cases are lodged in police stations and so many end in compromise and many others are found to be false. Provisions of IPC like section 498-A, 406, 506 and Dowry Prohibition Act are being used in an inappropriate manner by disgruntled wives to harass to husband and his relatives of husband to get them arrested In view of these false cases which are lodged for demanding money from husband and his family, Supreme Court in Arnesh Kumar v. State of Bihar, 2014 AIR (SC) 2756 has directed the police not to automatically arrest a person where a case is registered either under Section 498-A IPC or other dowry related sections of IPC or Dowry Prohibition.

SC has also directed that arrest should be made after some investigation as to the genuineness of allegation. It has been held that arrest should not be made only because the offence is non-bailable and cognizable. Merely because it is lawful for the police officers to arrest, does not mean that police should arrest. In a number of cases provisions of Section 498-A and Dowry Prohibition Act are being misutilized by disgruntled wives to harass to husband and his relatives of husband to get them arrested – Police directed not to make arrest without reasonable satisfaction and genuineness of allegation.

Supreme Court has held that –

12. We are of the opinion that if the provisions of Section 41, Cr.PC which authorises the police officer to arrest an accused without an order from a Magistrate and without a warrant are scrupulously enforced, the wrong committed by the police officers intentionally or unwittingly would be reversed and the number of cases which come to the Court for grant of anticipatory bail will substantially reduce. We would like to emphasise that the practice of mechanically reproducing in the case diary all or most of the reasons contained in Section 41 Cr.PC for effecting arrest be discouraged and discontinued.

13. Our endeavour in this judgment is to ensure that police officers do not arrest accused unnecessarily and Magistrate do not authorise detention casually and mechanically. In order to ensure what we have observed above, we give the following direction:

(1) All the State Governments to instruct its police officers not to automatically arrest when a case under Section 498A of the IPC is registered but to satisfy themselves about the necessity for arrest under the parameters laid down above flowing from Section 41, Cr.PC;

(2) All police officers be provided with a check list containing specified sub- clauses under Section 41(1)(b)(ii);

(3) The police officer shall forward the check list duly filed and furnish the reasons and materials which necessitated the arrest, while forwarding/producing the accused before the Magistrate for further detention;

(4) The Magistrate while authorising detention of the accused shall peruse the report furnished by the police officer in terms aforesaid and only after recording its satisfaction, the Magistrate will authorise detention;

(5) 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;

(6) Notice of appearance in terms of Section 41A of Cr.PC be served on the accused within two weeks from the date of institution of the case, which may be extended by the Superintendent of Police of the District for the reasons to be recorded in writing;

(7) Failure to comply with the directions aforesaid shall apart from rendering the police officers concerned liable for departmental action, they shall also be liable to be punished for contempt of court to be instituted before High Court having territorial jurisdiction.

(8) Authorising detention without recording reasons as aforesaid by the judicial Magistrate concerned shall be liable for departmental action by the appropriate High Court.

14. We hasten to add that the directions aforesaid shall not only apply to the cases under Section 498A of the I.P.C. or Section 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, the case in hand, but also such cases where offence is punishable with imprisonment for a term which may be less than seven years or which may extend to seven years; whether with or without fine.