The Supreme Court on Friday said if Parliament had enacted Section 498A IPC in 1983 to protect women from cruelty in matrimonial homes, it was now obliged to frame protective measures to curb harassment of husbands and their relatives from misuse and prevent a “war between two sexes”, reported Times of India.
A bench of CJI Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud said the perception of persecution under Section 498A because of “super sensitivity” and overzealousness by police to arrest husbands could bring about social disaster with the “potential to vertically divide society”.
The SC said it was obligatory on the part of the legislature to enact protective measures against misuse of Section 498A and for courts to carefully scrutinise genuineness of complaints while establishing from evidence the requirement of keeping those arrested in custody rather than enlarging them on bail.
Writing the judgment for the bench, CJI Misra said the SC could not lose sight of growing abuse of the provision. “When implementation of the law (arrest) is abused by law enforcing agency, the legislature introduces a protective provision as regards arrest. Needless to say, the courts have ample power to grant anticipatory bail, and even to quash criminal proceedings totally to stabilise lawful balance because no court of law remotely conceives a war between two sexes,” the bench said.
Friday’s judgment removed a few safeguards against arrest of husbands and their relatives introduced by a two-judge SC bench last year in its decision in the Rajesh Sharma case. The SC did away with the stipulation that genuineness of Section 498A complaints would first be verified by a district level committee and that no arrest would me made till it gave its final report.
While removing the safeguard, which was hailed by ‘harassed husbands’, the bench showed that it was alive to concerns over immediate arrest after lodging of an FIR under Section 498A. Parliament had introduced Section 498A in IPCin 1983 to deal with increasing number of dowry deaths while categorising the offence as cognisable and non-bailable.