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14 Sep 2018

In dowry-harassment cases, accused can now seek anticipatory-bail, rules SC

SC takes notice of 'misuse' of dowry cases

Taking note of the misuse of Section 498A of the IPC, the Supreme Court on Friday said the accused can now seek anticipatory bail.

The court also said family welfare committee is no longer required to examine seriousness of complaints in such cases.

The aforementioned section pertains to dowry harassment, and the court observed false cases led to 'social unrest'.

Here's more about this.

In context

SC takes notice of 'misuse' of dowry cases
NGO, formed by woman, filed plea seeking changes

The case

NGO, formed by woman, filed plea seeking changes

A Maharashtra based NGO 'Nyayadhar' filed a PIL seeking changes in the Section. The organization, formed by women, claimed the otherwise useful Act, meant to come to victims' rescue, has become 'valueless'.

A three-judge bench headed by CJI Dipak Misra, and comprising Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud, observed misuse of the Act to harass the other side was concerning.


Earlier, two-judge bench spoke about abuse of the law

In 2017, a two-judge bench of the top court spoke about the abuse of the Act. The bench led by Justice Adarsh K Goel ruled allegations needed to be verified before any arrest.

The bench said violation of human rights of innocents shouldn't be ignored, and 'uncalled for arrest' may dampen any chances of a settlement.

On Thursday, the CJI-led bench modified this verdict.

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Earlier, SC said confiscating passports shouldn't become new normal

Looking back

Earlier, SC said confiscating passports shouldn't become new normal

As a part of the earlier judgement, District Legal Services Authorities (DLSA) was asked to form one or more family welfare committees.

It had said these committees, which could include paralegal volunteers, social workers, etc., would look into complaints received.

The bench ordered bail pleas should be looked into soon, and confiscating passports in cases, where someone lived abroad, shouldn't become the norm.

Court's order

Court provides much-needed relief to those falsely accused

"We have protected pre-arrest or anticipatory bail provision in dowry harassment cases," said the bench. The court said it cannot frame guidelines about registration of FIRs.

"There are no gaps in the law to be filled up by the courts," the bench added.

Under Section 498A, husbands and their relatives could be send to prison for a maximum of three-years, and it was non-bailable.

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