The Supreme Court ruled that the police officers cannot Arrest without reasonable satisfaction reached after investigation as to genuineness of allegation.
The petitioner apprehends his arrest in a case under Section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and Dowry Prohibition Act,1961. Petitioner happens to be the husband of respondent Sweta Kiran.
In sum and substance, 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.
The division bench of Justice Chandramauli KR. Prasad and Pinaki Chandra Ghose said that Section 498-A of the IPC was introduced with a vowed 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.
The court further stated that Police officers make arrests as they believe that they possess the power to do so. It would be prudent and wise for a police officer that no arrest is made without a reasonable satisfaction reached after some investigation as to the genuineness of the allegation. Despite this legal position, the Legislature did not find any improvement. Numbers of arrest have not decreased.
The court noted that the offence in the present appeal, provides for a maximum punishment of imprisonment which may extend to seven years and fine. It is evident that a person accused of an 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.
The court said that the endeavour of the Court in the judgment is to ensure that police officers do not arrest accused unnecessarily and Magistrate do not authorise detention casually and mechanically.
The court in order to ensure what it has observed above, gave certain directions; firstly, 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; secondly, all police officers be provided with a checklist containing specified sub- clauses; thirdly, 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; fourthly, 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.
The court directed that the 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.
The court said that 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.
Case title: ARNESH KUMAR v/s STATE OF BIHAR & ANR.
Citation: SPECIAL LEAVE PETITION (CRL.) No.9127 of 2013