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Wednesday 1 April 2020

No intention to frame guidelines for FIRs registration in dowry cases: SC

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court today said it does not intend to frame guidelines for the police regarding registration of FIRs on subjecting a married woman to cruelty for dowry, as the process has to be governed by statutory provisions.

A bench, comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, apparently disagreed with the guidelines framed by a two-judge bench on how to proceed in dowry harassment cases and said it would hear the matter in the third week of January next year.

“Who are we to decide as to how the police will register an FIR under section 498-A (husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty) of the IPC. There cannot be any guidelines on FIR registration under section 498-A and it has to be guided as per the Indian Penal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).

“Section 498-A is in the statute book and the law will take its own course. We do not intend to frame any guideline,” the bench observed.

The top court was hearing pleas filed by NGOs Social Action Forum and ‘Nyayadhar’ alleging that such guidelines have created roadblocks in the registration of FIRs in such cases and the penal provision be allowed to operate as per the statute.

The pleas have claimed that such fetters have rendered “valueless” the “helpful instrument” of law as envisaged under section 498A of the IPC.

On July 27, the two-judge bench of the apex court had voiced concern over “abuse” of the anti-dowry law and directed that no arrest should “normally be effected” without verifying allegations as violation of human rights of innocents cannot be brushed aside.

It had passed a slew of directions to deal with complaints under section 498A of the IPC and observed that many such complaints were not bonafide and “uncalled for arrest” may ruin the chances of settlement.

The two-judge bench had also directed that in every district, one or more family welfare committees should be constituted by the District Legal Services Authorities (DLSA) and every complaint received by police or the magistrate under this provision should be referred to the committee and looked into by it.

It had said that such committees may comprise para legal volunteers, social workers, retired persons, wives of working officers and others who may be found suitable and willing.

The bench had also said if a bail plea is filed in such a matter, it may be decided as far as possible on the same day with at least one day’s notice to the public prosecutor or the complainant.

Regarding persons residing abroad, it had said the process of impounding of passports or issuance of Red Corner Notice should not be a routine.

The apex court had also said that personal appearance of all family members and particularly out-station members may not be required and the trial court ought to grant exemption from personal appearance or permit appearance by video conferencing without adversely affecting progress of trial.

It had, however, clarified that “these directions will not apply to the offences involving tangible physical injuries or death”.

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