Police and Public the Use of Section 498A – S C Summary Judgement

The Supreme Court, has delivered a much awaited judgment by the common man.

The judgment (Arnesh Kumar Vs. State of Bihar &Anr) has effectively rewritten the relationship between the police and public. The important verdict arises from an appeal preferred by a husband who apprehended his arrest in a case under Section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860   and Section 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961.

While dealing with the case, the Court thought it fit to record the rampant abuse of 498-A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. Justice Chandramauli Kr. Prasad, who delivered the judgement, along with Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose has recorded the ground realities, according to the Court, ‘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.  

 

“Crime  in India  2012   Statistics”  published  by  National  Crime  Records   Bureau, Ministry of Home Affairs shows arrest of 1,97,762  persons  all  over  India during the year 2012 for offence under Section 498-A of the IPC,  9.4%  more than the  year  2011.   Nearly  a  quarter  of  those  arrested  under  this provision in 2012 were women i.e. 47,951  which  depicts  that  mothers  and sisters of the husbands were liberally included in their  arrest  net.  

 

Its share is 6% out of the total persons arrested under the crimes committed under Indian Penal Code.  It accounts for 4.5%  of  total  crimes  committed under  different  sections  of  penal  code,  more  than  any  other  crimes excepting theft and hurt.   The  rate  of  charge-sheeting  in  cases  under Section 498A, IPC is as high as 93.6%, while the  conviction  rate  is  only 15%, which is lowest across all  heads.   As  many  as  3,72,706  cases  are pending trial of which on current estimate, nearly 3,17,000  are  likely  to result in acquittal”

 

The Court in strong words possible has expressed its dissatisfaction as to how the power of arrest and detention is dealt with equally by Police and Magistrates. It records “. 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. Our experience tells us that it is not exercised with the seriousness it deserves. In many of the cases, detention is authorised in a routine, casual and cavalier manner.  

Before a Magistrate authorises detention under Section 167, Cr.PC, he has to be first satisfied that the arrest made is legal and in accordance with law and all the constitutional rights of the person arrested is satisfied.  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. 

 

In other  words,  when  an  accused  is  produced  before  the Magistrate,  the police officer effecting the arrest is required to  furnish to the Magistrate, the facts, reasons and its  conclusions  for  arrest  and the Magistrate in turn is to  be  satisfied  that  condition  precedent  for arrest under Section 41 Cr.PC has been satisfied and it is  only  thereafter that he will authorise the detention of an accused. 

 

The Magistrate before authorising detention will record its own satisfaction, may be in brief but the said satisfaction must reflect from its order.   It  shall  never  be based upon the ipse dixit of the police officer, for example,  in  case  the police officer considers the arrest necessary to prevent  such  person  from committing any further offence or for proper investigation of  the  case  or for preventing an accused from tampering with evidence or making  inducement etc., the police officer shall furnish to  the  Magistrate  the  facts,  the reasons and materials on the basis of which the police officer  had  reached its conclusion. 

 

Those shall be perused by the Magistrate while authorizing the detention and only after recording its satisfaction in writing that the Magistrate will authorise the detention of the accused.   In  fine,  when  a suspect is  arrested  and  produced  before  a  Magistrate  for  authorizing detention, the Magistrate has  to  address  the  question  whether  specific reasons have been recorded for arrest and if so, prima facie  those  reasons are relevant and secondly a reasonable conclusion could at  all  be  reached by the police officer that one or the  other  conditions  stated  above  are attracted.  To this limited extent the Magistrate will make judicial scrutiny”.

 

In order to prevent unnecessary arrest and causal and mechanical detention, the Court has issued following directions:

a)      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;

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

c)     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;

d)     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;

e)      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;

f)       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;

g)      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.

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

i)        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.

j)        We direct that a copy of this  judgement  be  forwarded  to  the  Chief Secretaries as also the  Director  Generals  of  Police  of  all  the  State Governments and the Union Territories and the Registrar General of  all  the High Courts for onward transmission and ensuring its compliance “

 

This article has been provided by ALMT Legal from: http://www.livelaw.in/automatic-arrest-498-cases-sc-issues-strict-guidelines-police-magistrates-non-compliance-will-attract-disciplinary-contempt-proceedings/

 

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