Every dowry harassment complaint made under Section 498A of Indian Penal Code must be referred to the committee, which would look into them.
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday expressed serious concern over the misuse of Section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code relating to dowry and harassment of men. It said no arrest should be made till a preliminary report is submitted by the family welfare committee.
A two-judge Bench of Justices A.K. Goel and U.U. Lalit observed that Section 498A was inserted in the statute with the laudable object of punishing cruelty at the hands of a husband or his relatives against a wife particularly when such cruelty had potential to result in suicide or murder of a woman.
But in view of the current misuse of the law, the court said family welfare committees should be set up in every district across the country. Every dowry harassment complaint made under Section 498A of Indian Penal Code must be referred to the committee, which would look into them. Till such time no arrests can be made.
The Bench, disposing of an appeal filed by Rajesh Sharma against an Allahabad high court verdict, said it is a matter of serious concern that large number of cases continue to be filed under Section 498A alleging harassment of married women. To remedy the situation, we are of the view that involvement of civil society would help in the administration of justice .
Giving a series of guidelines, the Bench said this can be one of the steps, apart from the investigating officers and the concerned trial courts being sensitised. It is also necessary to facilitate closure of proceedings where a genuine settlement has been reached instead of parties being required to move the high court for that purpose.
The Bench said once a settlement is arrived at between the parties then such a complaint should not be investigated further.