Police must follow apex court guidelines against casual arrests, says court

With a man and his mother seeking legal protection from arrest in a complaint of alleged dowry harassment lodged by his estranged wife, a Delhi court has insisted that in cases registered under Section 498A of the IPC (dowry harassment, cruelty ), the first attempt should be to save a marriage and the probe agencies should be cautious while arresting all the family members.

Additional Sessions Judge Kamini Lau noted that the police must follow the checklist/guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court against casual arrests in cases under Section 498A of the IPC as also under cases where punishment is for seven years or less.

The apex court had in July directed that the police must satisfy itself of the necessity of an arrest and the magistrate to record its satisfaction before authorising detention.

“...time and again it has been impressed upon by the apex court that in a case registered under Section 498A of the IPC the first attempt should be to save a marriage and the investigating agency should be cautious while arresting all the family members since that would only ruin the chances of reconciliation between the parties,” Justice Lau said.

The court referred to the July 2 judgment of the Supreme Court in a case titled Arnesh Kumar vs. State of Bihar wherein the apex court while dealing with the bail application of the applicants charged with the offence under Section 498A of the IPC had expressed serious concern over its abuse and hence laid down the conditions under which the accused could be arrested with checklist they extended to other cases with punishment less than seven years.

The court was hearing the pleas for anticipatory bails filed by North-West Delhi resident Manoj and his mother since they were apprehending arrest in a case lodged against them by Manoj’s wife who left the matrimonial house within six months of their marriage.

The woman had left the house and lodged a case at Amritsar in Punjab.

Manoj and his mother argued in the court that the complaint was false and even otherwise, the Punjab police have no jurisdiction whatsoever to arrest them.

The court noted that the “investigating officer (of Punjab police) admits that only allegations against the applicants/ accused are oral and non-specific without any supporting documents in the form of MLCs to prima facie confirm the allegations of beating and hence under the given circumstances the possibility of the abuse of the provisions of Section 498A only for purposes of creating pressure upon the in-laws cannot be ruled out.”

It noted that there was no order from the Superintendent of Police to the investigating officer to arrest the applicants, as required in compliance of the Supreme Court guidelines and called it a serious non-compliance of law.

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