No need for guidelines to probe dowry cases: SC

No need for guidelines to probe dowry cases: SC

The Supreme Court on Wednesday said there is no need for laying down guidelines for the police to investigate dowry harassment cases.

"Why should there be guidelines when there is an IPC provision? How can there be any guideline? Section 498A (dowry harassment) is a cognizable offence. It is there in the statute book and law will take its own course in such matters," a three-judge bench presided over by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said.

Going ahead to reconsider a two-judge bench judgement that directed for vetting of dowry harassment complaints by a district level committee before arresting the accused, the bench said, "This would amount to creating jurisdiction beyond the statute."

"We are not interested in laying down guidelines," the bench, also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, further said.

The court's observations came as senior advocates Indu Malhotra and V Shekhar, appointed as amicus curiae, contended that nothing is moving and no arrest is being made by the police after the apex court's judgement passed on July 27 in "Rajesh Sharma vs the State of UP and another".

The court put the matter, arising out of a PIL filed by Maharashtra-based NGO 'Nyayadhar' (lady lawyers association) and another plea by Social Action Forum, for further consideration in the third week of January.

The court had then directed that no arrest should normally take place in dowry harassment cases without examination of women's complaints by a committee of civil society members.

The top court had then also directed for the formation of one or more family welfare committees by the District Legal Services Authority in each district with civil society members, wives of officers, retired persons and para-legal volunteers, to examine complaints made by women to ensure no arrest was made without its report.

The judgement was termed as a landmark as it was meant to check unmindful roping in of all family members of men in complaints filed under Section 498A of the IPC.

"We are not in agreement with the decision rendered in Rajesh Sharma case because we are disposed to think that it really curtails the rights of women who are harassed under Section 498A of the IPC. That apart, prima facie, we perceive that the guidelines may be in the legislative sphere," the bench had earlier said.

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