Monday, October 13, 2008

Dowry cases: HC puts curbs on arrest of in-laws, relatives


Bail Application No. 1627/2008


Judgment delivered on: 04.8.2008

Chander Bhan and Anr. ...... Petitioners
Through: Mr. Rajesh Khanna Adv.


State ..... Respondent
Through: Mr. Pawan Sharma APP


1. Whether the Reporters of local papers may
be allowed to see the judgment? yes

2. To be referred to Reporter or not? yes

3. Whether the judgment should be reported
in the Digest? yes


By way of the present petition the petitioners who are parents-
in-law of the complainant seek grant of anticipatory bail.
Mr. Sharma counsel for the State submits that allegations are
serious in nature against the petitioners, therefore, the petitioners do not
deserve grant of anticipatory bail.
Complainant is present in the court. She states that there is no
possibility of her going back to the matrimonial home. However, the
complainant is not averse to the matter being sent before the mediation cell.
Let the matter be sent to the Mediation Cell, Rohini Court, Delhi for exploring
the possibility of amicable settlement between the parties.
Let the parties appear before the Mediation Cell, Rohini Court,
Delhi on 11.8.2008 at 4.00 P.M.
List the matter before the court on 23.9.2008.
Till then the petitioners shall not be arrested.
Before parting with this case, I deem it expedient and in the
larger interest of saving matrimony of the couples and to restore peace between
the two hostile families of husband and wife who once must have celebrated the

marriage of couple with great zeal, fervor and enthusiasm but when faced with
many facets and stark realities of life entangled themselves to fight a long
drawn legal battle instead of building confidence, trust, understanding, mutual
respect for each other and their respective families.
The offence of cruelty by husband or relatives of husband (Section 498-A)
was added in 1986 to curb the vise of subjecting women to coerce them or their
relatives to meet unlawful demands for dowry.
Since its enactment, this provision has been subjected to systematic and
sustained attack. It has been called unfair and responsible for the
victimisation of husbands by their wives and her relatives. No doubt there may
be many deserving cases where women are being subjected to mental and physical
cruelty at the hands of the avaricious in-laws. But such cases have to be
distinguished from other cases where merely due to trivial fights and ego
clashes the matrimony is facing disaster.
What is not comprehended by young minds while invoking the provisions of
the likes of Section 498-A and 406 of IPC is that these provisions to a large
extent have done incalculable harm in breaking matrimony of the couples. Despite
the western culture influencing the young minds of our country, still it has
been seen that Indian families value their own age old traditions and culture,
where, mutual respect, character and morals are still kept at a very high
It has been noticed in diverse cases, where the brides and their family
members in litigation find the doors of conciliation shut from the side of groom
and his family members only on account of there having suffered the wrath of
Police harassment first at the stage when matter is pending before crime against
women cell and thereafter at the time of seeking grant of anticipatory or
regular bail and then the ordeal of long drawn trial.
Daily, matters come before this court seeking bail and for quashing of
FIR?s registered under Sections 498A/406 of the IPC. This court is of the view
that it is essential to lay down some broad guidelines and to give directions in
such matters in order to salvage and save the institution of marriage and
matrimonial homes of the couples.
1. Social workers/NGO
There is no iota of doubt that most of the complaints are filed in the
heat of the moment over trifling fights and ego clashes. It is also a matter of
common knowledge that in their tussle and ongoing hostility the hapless children
are the worst victims. Before a wife moves to file a complaint with the Women
Cell, a lot of persuasion and conciliation is required.
(a) The Delhi Legal Service Authority, National Commission for Women, NGO?s and
social worker?s working for upliftment of women should set up a desk in crime
against women cell to provide them with conciliation services, so that before
the State machinery is set in motion, the matter is amicably settled at that
very stage. But, if ultimately even after efforts put by the social workers
reconciliation seems not possible then the matter should be undertaken by the
police officials of Crime against Women cell and there also, serious efforts
should be made to settle the matter amicably.
2. Police Authorities:
(a) Pursuant to directions given by the Apex Court, the Commissioner of Police,
Delhi vide Standing Order No. 330/2007 had already issued guidelines for arrest
in the dowry cases registered under Sections 498-A/406 IPC and the said
guidelines should be followed by the Delhi Police strictly and scrupulously.
(i) No case under Section 498-A/406 IPC should be registered without the prior
approval of DCP/Addl. DCP.
(ii) Arrest of main accused should be made only after thorough investigation has
been conducted and with the prior approval of the ACP/DCP.

(iii) Arrest of the collateral accused such as father-in-law, mother-in-law,
brother-in-law or sister-in-law etc should only be made after prior approval of
DCP on file.
(b) Police should also depute a well trained and a well behaved staff in all the
crime against women cells especially the lady officers, all well equipped with
the abilities of perseverance, persuasion, patience and forbearance.
(c) FIR in such cases should not be registered in a routine manner.
(d) The endeavor of the Police should be to scrutinize complaints very carefully
and then register FIR.
(e) The FIR should be registered only against those persons against whom there
are strong allegations of causing any kind of physical or mental cruelty as well
as breach of trust.
(f) All possible efforts should be made, before recommending registration of any
FIR, for reconciliation and in case it is found that there is no possibility of
settlement, then necessary steps in the first instance be taken to ensure return
of stridhan and dowry articles etc. by the accused party to the complainant.

3. Lawyers:
Lawyers also have a great responsibility in this regard.
(a) While drafting pleadings/complaints, the lawyers should not unnecessarily
suggest incorporation of wild allegations, or in character assassination of any
of the parties or their family members whatever the case may be.
(b) Lawyers are also to endeavour to bring about amicable settlement between the
parties as they are expected to discharge sacred duty as social engineers in
such cases instead of making them target for monetary considerations by
multiplying their cases.

4. Courts:
Subordinate courts, be it trying civil or criminal cases concerning bail,
maintenance, custody, divorce or other related matters shall in the first
instance, in every case where it is possible so to do consistently with the
nature and circumstances of the case, to make every endeavour to bring about
reconciliation between the parties.
a) The first endeavor should be for possible reunion and restitution of the
parties and as a last endeavor to bring about peaceful separation.
b) If possible extra time should be devoted to such matters to restore peace in
the lives of rival parties be it by re-uniting them or even in case of their
parting ways.
c) Conciliatory proceedings by the court should preferably be held in camera to
avoid embarrassment.
d) Wherever, the courts are overburdened with the work, necessary assistance of
Mediation and Conciliation cells should be sought.
Apart from above directions it would not be out of place to ask parties
also to themselves adopt a conciliatory approach without intervention of any
outside agency and unless there are very compelling reasons, steps for launching
prosecution against any spouse or his/her in-laws be not initiated just in a
huff, anger, desperation or frustration.

August 04, 2008

Bail Application No. 1627/2008
Page 11 of 11

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