‘Don’t arrest dowry accused without proof’
A memo from the director general of police directs cops not to arrest husbands or their relatives without a proper investigation
Posted On Thursday, November 04, 2010 at 05:29:09 AM
In what comes as a relief to husbands and their relatives in dowry-related cases, the state DG & IGP Ajai Kumar Singh has sent a memo to all police stations to refrain from making arbitrary arrests in such cases.
The Dowry Prohibition Act prohibits giving or taking dowry. In almost all such cases, the accused is/are booked under Sec 498 A of the IPC, which relates to a husband or his relative subjecting the wife to cruelty.
The memo points to instances of police officers arresting the accused in such cases without collecting proper evidence. It also points to instances of relatives of the accused being booked.
Citing the Supreme Court’s directions in Joginder Kumar Vs State of UP, the memo notes that before arresting the accused, the police should collect proper evidence. “Otherwise, arresting the accused based on a complaint or because the names are in an FIR is not correct.” The memo says it is necessary to protect the human rights of individuals in such cases. The investigation report should be reviewed by the superintendent of police/deputy commissioner of police concerned and only after permission is given should the accused be arrested, the memo says.
“This measure was long overdue,” said men’s rights activist Kumar Jahagirdar. “Ninety-three per cent of such cases end in acquittal of the accused. This shows how the law can be misused,” he said.
“This is the only law where the onus is on the accused to prove his innocence. There are instances of men being booked and arrested after decades of marriage. Even when other family members are not staying with the couple, they are named in the complaint. It is a non-bailable and non-compoundable offence. So the complaint cannot be withdrawn. The wife goes out of the picture and the husband and his family members have to fight against the State. On the other hand, women who need the protection of such a law are not aware of it. It has become a tool in the hands of those seeking revenge,” said Jahagirdar.
WOMEN’S GROUPS NOT HAPPY
However, Janavaadi Mahila Sanghatane’s vice-president JS Vimala said cases of misuse of the law were negligible. “False dowry cases are basically to do with misuse of Sec 498 A of the IPC. The fact remains that 99 per cent of the complainants in dowry-related cases do not get justice. For the wrongdoings of a few women, all victims will suffer if the police do not act promptly in dowry-related cases,” she said.
Sharing these sentiments, Philomena Peris, former head of the Karnataka State Commission for Women, said, “There are numerous cases of wives being burnt, hanged or beaten to death. How many times have you heard of a husband or a mother-in-law being burnt? Sec 498 A gives the much-needed protection to women in dowry-related cases.”