Tuesday, July 16, 2024

𝗝𝘂𝗱𝗶𝗰𝗶𝗮𝗹𝗗𝗿𝗲𝗮𝗺™

𝙰𝙵𝙵𝙾𝚁𝙳𝙰𝙱𝙻𝙴 & 𝙰𝙲𝙲𝙴𝚂𝚂𝙸𝙱𝙻𝙴

CASE LAWSIPCLEGAL AFFAIRS

SEC 498A IPC

Arnesh Kumar Vs. State of Bihar & Anr, SC 2020

FACTS – The petitioner apprehends his arrest in a case under Section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (hereinafter called as IPC) and Section 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961. The maximum sentence provided under Section 498-A IPC is imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and fine whereas the maximum sentence provided under Section 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act is two years and with fine.

Petitioner happens to be the husband of respondent no.2 Sweta Kiran. The marriage between them was solemnized on 1st July, 2007. His attempt to secure anticipatory bail has failed and hence he has knocked the door of this Court by way of this Special Leave Petition.

The allegation levelled by the wife against the appellant is that demand of Rupees eight lacs, a maruti car, an air- conditioner, television set etc. was made by her mother-in-law and father-in-law and when this fact was brought to the appellant’s notice, he supported his mother and threatened to marry another woman.

It has been alleged that she was driven out of the matrimonial home due to non- fulfilment of the demand of dowry. Denying these allegations, the appellant preferred an application for anticipatory bail which was earlier rejected by the learned Sessions Judge and thereafter by the High Court.

  

CONCERN -There is phenomenal increase in matrimonial disputes in recent years. The institution of marriage is greatly revered in this country. Section 498-A of the IPC was introduced with avowed object to combat the menace of harassment to a woman at the hands of her husband and his relatives.

The fact that Section 498-A is a cognizable and non-bailable offence has lent it a dubious place of pride amongst the provisions that are used as weapons rather than shield by disgruntled wives. The simplest way to harass is to get the husband and his relatives arrested under this provision. In a quite number of cases,bed-ridden grand-fathers and grand-mothers of the husbands, their sisters living abroad for decades are arrested.

Arrest brings humiliation, curtails freedom and cast scars forever. Law makers know it so also the police. There is a battle between the law makers and the police and it seems that police has not learnt its lesson; the lesson implicit and embodied in the Cr.PC. It has not come out of its colonial image despite six decades of independence, it is largely considered as a tool of harassment, oppression and surely not considered a friend of public. The need for caution in exercising the drastic power of arrest has been emphasized time and again by Courts but has not yielded desired result.

  

Power to arrest greatly contributes to its arrogance so also the failure of the Magistracy to check it. Not only this, the power of arrest is one of the lucrative sources of police corruption. The attitude to arrest first and then proceed with the rest is despicable. It has become a handy tool to the police officers who lack sensitivity or act with oblique motive.

LAW -As the offence with which we are concerned in the present appeal, provides for a maximum punishment of imprisonment which may extend to seven years and fine, Section 41(1)(b), Cr.PC which is relevant for the purpose provides that a person accused of offence punishable with imprisonment for a term which may be less than seven years or which may extend to seven years with or without fine, cannot be arrested by the police officer only on its satisfaction that such person had committed the offence punishable as aforesaid.

  

Police officer before arrest, in such cases has to be further satisfied that such arrest is necessary to prevent such person from committing any further offence; or for proper investigation of the case; or to prevent the accused from causing the evidence of the offence to disappear; or tampering with such evidence in any manner; or to prevent such person from making any inducement, threat or promise to a witness so as to dissuade him from disclosing such facts to the Court or the police officer; or unless such accused person is arrested, his presence in the court whenever required cannot be ensured.

These are the conclusions, which one may reach based on facts. Law mandates the police officer to state the facts and record the reasons in writing which led him to come to a conclusion covered by any of the provisions aforesaid, while making such arrest. Law further requires the police officers to record the reasons in writing for not making the arrest. In pith and core, the police office before arrest must put a question to himself, why arrest? Is it really required? What purpose it will serve? What object it will achieve?

It is only after these questions are addressed and one or the other conditions as enumerated above is satisfied, the power of arrest needs to be exercised. In fine, before arrest first the police officers should have reason to believe on the basis of information and material that the accused has committed the offence.

An accused arrested without warrant by the police has the constitutional right under Article 22(2) of the Constitution of India and Section 57, Cr.PC to be produced before the Magistrate without unnecessary delay and in no circumstances beyond 24 hours excluding the time necessary for the journey.

  

During the course of investigation of a case, an accused can be kept in detention beyond a period of 24 hours only when it is authorised by the Magistrate in exercise of power under Section 167 Cr.PC.

The power to authorise detention is a very solemn function. It affects the liberty and freedom of citizens and needs to be exercised with great care and caution. If the arrest effected by the police officer does not satisfy the requirements of Section 41 of the Code, Magistrate is duty bound not to authorise his further detention and release the accused.

Another provision i.e. Section 41A Cr.PC aimed to avoid unnecessary arrest or threat of arrest looming large on accused requires to be vitalised. Aforesaid provision makes it clear that in all cases where the arrest of a person is not required under Section 41(1), Cr.PC, the police officer is required to issue notice directing the accused to appear before him at a specified place and time. Law obliges such an accused to appear before the police officer and it further mandates that if such an accused complies with the terms of notice he shall not be arrested, unless for reasons to be recorded, the police office is of the opinion that the arrest is necessary.

GUIDELINES – 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 498-A 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.

We hasten to add that the directions aforesaid shall not only apply to the cases under Section 498-A 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.

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