Thus, after careful consideration of the whole issue, we consider it fit to give following       directions :-

  1. i) (a) In every district one or more Family Welfare Committees be constituted by the District Legal Services Authorities preferably comprising of three members. The constitution and working of such committees may be reviewed from time to time and at least once in a year by the District and Sessions Judge of the district who is also the Chairman of the District Legal Services Authority.

(b) The Committees may be constituted out of para legal volunteers/social          workers/retired persons/wives of working officers/other citizens who may be found suitable and willing.

(c) The Committee members will not be called as witnesses.

(d) Every complaint under Section 498A received by the police or the Magistrate be referred to and looked into by such committee. Such committee may have interaction with the parties personally or by means of telephone or any other mode of communication including electronic communication.

(e) Report of such committee be given to the Authority by whom the complaint is referred to it latest within one month from the date of receipt of complaint.

(f) The committee may give its brief report about the factual aspects and its opinion in the matter.

(g) Till report of the committee is received, no arrest should normally be effected.

(h) The report may be then considered by the Investigating Officer or the Magistrate on its own merit.

(i) Members of the committee may be given such basic minimum training as may be considered necessary by the Legal Services Authority from time to time.

(j) The Members of the committee may be given such honorarium as may be considered viable.

(k) It will be open to the District and Sessions Judge to utilize the cost fund wherever considered necessary and proper.

 

  1. ii) Complaints under Section 498A and other connected offences may be investigated only by a designated Investigating Officer of the area. Such designations may be made within one month from today. Such designated officer may be required to undergo training for such duration (not less than one week) as may be considered appropriate. The training may be completed within four months from today;

iii) In cases where a settlement is reached, it will be open to the District and Sessions Judge or any other senior Judicial Officer nominated by him in the district to dispose of the proceedings including closing of the criminal case if dispute primarily relates to matrimonial discord;

  1. iv) If a bail application is filed with at least one clear day’s notice to the Public Prosecutor/complainant, the same may be decided as far as possible on the same day. Recovery of disputed dowry items may not by itself be a ground for denial of bail if maintenance or other rights of wife/minor children can otherwise be protected. Needless to say that in dealing with bail matters, individual roles, prima facie truth of the allegations, requirement of further arrest/ custody and interest of justice must be carefully weighed;
  2. v) In respect of persons ordinarily residing out of India impounding of passports or issuance of Red Corner Notice should not be a routine;
  3. vi) It will be open to the District Judge or a designated senior judicial officer nominated by the District Judge to club all connected cases between the parties arising out of matrimonial disputes so that a holistic view is taken by the Court to whom all such cases are entrusted; and

vii) Personal appearance of all family members and particularly outstation members may not be required and the trial court ought to grant exemption from personal appearance or permit appearance by video conferencing without adversely affecting progress of the trial.

viii) These directions will not apply to the offences involving tangible physical injuries or death.

 

——————————————————————————————————————————————

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 1265 OF 2017

[Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Crl.) No.2013 of 2017]

 

Rajesh Sharma & ors.                                         …Appellants

Versus

State of U.P. & Anr.                                         …Respondents

JUDGMENT

Adarsh Kumar Goel, J.

  1. Leave granted.
  2. The question which has arisen in this appeal is whether any directions are called for to prevent the misuse of Section 498A, as acknowledged in certain studies and decisions. The Court requested Shri A.S. Nadkarni, learned ASG and Shri V.V. Giri, learned senior counsel to assist the Court as amicus. We place on record our gratitude for the assistance rendered by learned ASG Signature Not Verified Digitally signed by SWETA DHYANI Shri Nadkarni and learned senior counsel Shri Giri who in turn was Date: 2017.07.27 17:07:01 IST Reason:

ably assisted by advocates Ms. Uttara Babbar, Ms. Pragya Baghel and Ms. Svadha Shanker.

  1. Proceedings have arisen from complaint dated 2 nd December, 2013 filed by respondent No.2 wife of appellant No.1. Appellants 2 to 5 are the parents and siblings of appellant No.1. The complainant alleged that she was married to appellant No.1 on 28th November, 2012. Her father gave dowry as per his capacity but the appellants were not happy with the extent of the dowry. They started abusing the complainant. They made a demand of dowry of Rs.3,00,000/- and a car which the family could not arrange. On 10th November, 2013, appellant No.1 dropped the complainant at her matrimonial home. She was pregnant and suffered pain in the process and her pregnancy was terminated. On the said version, and further version that her stridhan was retained, appellant No.1 was summoned under Section 498A and Section 323 IPC. Appellants 2 to 5 were not summoned. Order dated 14th July, 2014 read as follows:

 

“After perusal of the file and the document brought on record. It is clear that the husband Shri Rajesh Sharma demanded car and three lacs rupees and in not meeting the demand. It appears that he has tortured the complainant.

So far as torture and retaining of the stri dhan and demanding 50,000 and a gold chain and in not meeting the demand the torture is attributable against Shri Rajesh Sharma. Rajesh Sharma appears to be main accused. In the circumstances, rest of the accused Vijay Sharma, Jaywati Sharma, Praveen Sharma and Priyanka Sharma have not committed any crime and they have not participated in commission of the crime. Whereas, it appears that Rajesh Sharma has committed an offence under Section 498A, 323 IPC and read with section 3 / 4 DP act appears to have prima facie made out. Therefore, a summon be issued against him.”

  1. Against the above order, respondent No.2 preferred a revision petition and submitted that appellants 2 to 5 should also have been summoned. The said petition was accepted by the Additional Sessions Judge, Jaunpur vide order dated 3rd July, 2015. The trial court was directed to take a fresh decision in the matter. Thereafter, the trial court vide order dated 18th August, 2015 summoned appellants 2 to 5 also. The appellants approached the High Court under Section 482 CrPC against the order of summoning. Though the matter was referred to the mediation centre, the mediation failed. Thereafter, the High Court found no ground to interfere with the order of summoning and dismissed the petition. Hence this appeal.
  2. Main contention raised in support of this appeal is that there is need to check the tendency to rope in all family members to settle a matrimonial dispute. Omnibus allegations against all relatives of the husband cannot be taken at face value when in normal course it may only be the husband or at best his parents who may be accused of demanding dowry or causing cruelty. To check abuse of over implication, clear supporting material is needed to proceed against other relatives of a husband. It is stated that respondent No.2 herself left the matrimonial home. Appellant No.2, father of appellant No.1, is a retired government employee. Appellant No.3 is a house wife. Appellant No.4 is unmarried brother and appellant No.5 is unmarried sister who is a government employee. Appellants 2 to 5 had no interest in making any demand of dowry.
  3. Learned counsel for respondent No.2 supported the impugned order and the averments in the complaint.
  4. Learned ASG submitted that Section 498A was enacted to check unconscionable demands by greedy husbands and their families which at times result in cruelty to women and also suicides. He, however, accepted that there is a growing tendency to abuse the said provision to rope in all the relatives including parents of advanced age, minor children, siblings, grand-parents and uncles on the strength of vague and exaggerated allegations without there being any verifiable evidence of physical or mental harm or injury. At times, this results in harassment and even arrest of innocent family members, including women and senior citizens. This may hamper any possible reconciliation and reunion of a couple. Reference has been made to the statistics from the Crime Records Bureau (CRB) as follows:

 

“9. That according to Reports of National Crime Record Bureau in 2005, for a total 58,319 cases reported under Section 498A IPC, a total of 1,27,560 people were arrested, and 6,141 cases were declared false on account of mistake of fact or law. While in 2009 for a total 89,546 cases reported, a total of 1,74,395 people were arrested and 8,352 cases were declared false on account of mistake of fact or law.

  1. That according to Report of Crime in India, 2012 Statistics, National Crime Records Bureau, Ministry of Home Affairs showed that for the year of 2012, a total of 197,762 people all across India were arrested under Section 498A, Indian Penal Code. The Report further shows that approximately a quarter of those arrested were women that is 47,951 of the total were perhaps mother or sisters of the husband. However most surprisingly the rate of charge-sheet filing for the year 2012, under Section 498A IPC was at an exponential height of 93.6% while the conviction rate was at a staggering low at 14.4% only. The Report stated that as many as 3,72,706 cases were pending trial of which 3,17,000 were projected to be acquitted.
  2. That according to Report of Crime in India, 2013, the National Crime Records Bureau further pointed out that of 4,66,079 cases that were pending in the start of 2013, only 7,258 were convicted while 38,165 were acquitted and 8,218 were withdrawn. The conviction rate of cases registered under Section 498A IPC was also a staggering low at 15.6%.”
  3. Referring to Sushil Kumar Sharma versus Union of India1, Preeti Gupta versus State of Jharkhand 2, Ramgopal versus State of Madhya Pradesh3, Savitri Devi versus Ramesh Chand4, it was submitted that misuse of the provision is judicially acknowledged and there is need to adopt measures to prevent such misuse. The Madras High Court in M.P. No.1 of 2008 in Cr. O.P. No.1089 of 2008 dated 4th August, 2008 directed issuance of following guidelines:

 

“It must also be borne in mind that the object behind the enactment of Section 498-A IPC and the Dowry Prohibition 1 (2005) 6 SCC 281 2 (2010) 7 SCC 667 3 (2010) 13 SCC 540 4 ILR (2003) I Delhi 484 Act is to check and curb the menace of dowry and at the same time, to save the matrimonial homes from destruction. Our experience shows that, apart from the husband, all family members are implicated and dragged to the police stations. Though arrest of those persons is not at all necessary, in a number of cases, such harassment is made simply to satisfy the ego and anger of the complainant. By suitably dealing with such matters, the injury to innocents could be avoided to a considerable extent by the Magistrates, but, if the Magistrates themselves accede to the bare requests of the police without examining the actual state of affairs, it would create negative effects thereby, the very purpose of the legislation would be defeated and the doors of conciliation would be closed forever. The husband and his family members may have difference of opinion in the dispute, for which, arrest and judicial remand are not the answers. The ultimate object of every legal system is to punish the guilty and protect the innocents.”

 

  1. Delhi High Court vide order dated 4th August, 2008 in Chander Bhan versus State5 in Bail Application No.1627/2008 directed issuance of following guidelines :

“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.

5 (2008) 151 DLT 691

(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 endavour 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.”

  1. In Arnesh Kumar versus State of Bihar 6, this Court directed as follows :

 

“11.1All the State Governments to instruct its police officers not to automatically arrest when a case under Section 498-A of the IPC is registered but to satisfy themselves about the necessity for arrest under the parameters laid down above flowing from Section 41, Cr.PC;

11.2 All police officers be provided with a check list containing specified sub-clauses under Section 41(1)(b)(ii);

6 (2014) 8 SCC 273 11.3 The police officer shall forward the check list duly filed and furnish the reasons and materials which necessitated the arrest, while forwarding/producing the accused before the Magistrate for further detention;

11.4 The Magistrate while authorizing detention of the accused shall peruse the report furnished by the police officer in terms aforesaid and only after recording its satisfaction, the Magistrate will authorize detention; 11.5 The decision not to arrest an accused, be forwarded to the Magistrate within two weeks from the date of the institution of the case with a copy to the Magistrate which may be extended by the Superintendent of police of the district for the reasons to be recorded in writing; 11.6 Notice of appearance in terms of Section 41A of Cr.PC be served on the accused within two weeks from the date of institution of the case, which may be extended by the Superintendent of Police of the District for the reasons to be recorded in writing;

11.7 Failure to comply with the directions aforesaid shall apart from rendering the police officers concerned liable for departmental action, they shall also be liable to be punished for contempt of court to be instituted before High Court having territorial jurisdiction.

11.8 Authorising detention without recording reasons as aforesaid by the judicial Magistrate concerned shall be liable for departmental action by the appropriate High Court.”

  1. Learned ASG suggested that there must be some preliminary inquiry on the lines of observations in Lalita Kumari versus Government of Uttar Pradesh7. Arrest of a relative other than husband could only be after permission from the concerned Magistrate. There should be no arrest of relatives aged above 70 years. Power of the police to straight away arrest must be prohibited. While granting permission, the court must ascertain that there is prima facie material of the accused having done some overt and covert act. The offence should be made compoundable and bailable. The role of each accused must be specified in the complaint and the complaint must be accompanied by a signed affidavit. The copy of the preliminary enquiry report should be furnished to the accused.
  2. Shri V. Giri, learned senior counsel assisted by advocates Ms. Uttara Babbar, Ms. Pragya Baghel and Ms. Svadha Shanker submitted that arrest in an offence under Section 498A should be only after recording reasons and express approval from the Superintendent of Police. In respect of relatives who are ordinarily residing outside India, the matter should proceed only if 7 (2014) 2 SCC 1 the IO is convinced that arrest is necessary for fair investigation. In such cases impounding of passport or issuance of red corner notice should be avoided. Procedure under Section 14 of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, of counseling should be made mandatory before registration of a case under Section 498A.
  3. We have given serious consideration to the rival submissions as well as suggestions made by learned ASG and Shri V. Giri, Senior Advocate assisted by Advocates Ms. Uttara Babbar, Ms. Pragya Baghel and Ms. Svadha Shanker. We have also perused 243rd Law Commission Report (August, 2012), 140 th Report of the Rajya Sabha Committee on Petition (September, 2011) as well as several decisions to which our attention has been invited.

 

  1. Section 498A was inserted in the statute with the laudable object of punishing cruelty at the hands of husband or his relatives against a wife particularly when such cruelty had potential to result in suicide or murder of a woman as mentioned in the Statement of Objects and Reasons of the Act 46 of 1983. The expression ‘cruelty’ in Section 498A covers conduct which may drive the women to commit suicide or cause grave injury (mental or physical) or danger to life or harassment with a view to coerce her to meet unlawful demand.8 It is a matter of serious concern that large number of cases continue to be filed under Section 498A alleging harassment of married women. We have already referred to some of the statistics from the Crime Records Bureau. This Court had earlier noticed the fact that most of such complaints are filed in the heat of the moment over trivial issues. Many of such complaints are not bona fide. At the time of filing of the complaint, implications and consequences are not visualized. At times such complaints lead to uncalled for harassment not only to the accused but also to the complainant. Uncalled for arrest may ruin the chances of settlement. This Court had earlier observed that a serious review of the provision was warranted 9. The matter also appears to have been considered by the Law Commission, the Malimath Committee, the Committee on Petitions in the Rajya Sabha, the Home Ministry, which have been referred to in the earlier part of the Judgment. The abuse of the 8 Explanation to Section 498A 9 Preeti Gupta (supra) provision was also noted in the judgments of this Court referred to earlier. Some High Courts have issued directions to check such abuse. In Arnesh Kumar (supra) this Court gave directions to safeguard uncalled for arrests. Recommendation has also been made by the Law Commission to make the offence compoundable. 15. Following areas appear to require remedial steps :-
  2. i) Uncalled for implication of husband and his relatives and arrest.
  3. ii) Continuation of proceedings in spite of settlement

between     the  parties  since   the   offence     is

non-compoundable and uncalled for hardship to parties on that account.

  1. Function of this Court is not to legislate but only to interpret the law. No doubt in doing so laying down of norms is sometimes unavoidable.10 Just and fair procedure being part of fundamental right to life,11 interpretation is required to be placed on a penal provision so that its working is not unjust, unfair or unreasonable. The court has incidental power to quash even a 10 Sahara India Real Estate Corporation Limited v. Securities and Exchange Board of India (2012) 10 SCC 603- para 52, SCBA v. Union of India (1998) 4 SCC 409- para 47, Union of India vs. Raghubir Singh (d) by Lrs. (1989) 2 SCC 754- para 7, Dayaram vs. Sudhir Batham (2012) 1 SCC 333 11 State of Punjab vs. Dalbir Singh (2012) 3 SCC 346- para 46,52 & 85, (2014) 4 SCC 453- para-21 non-compoundable case of private nature, if continuing the proceedings is found to be oppressive. 12 While stifling a legitimate prosecution is against public policy, if the proceedings in an offence of private nature are found to be oppressive, power of quashing is exercised.

 

  1. We have considered the background of the issue and also taken into account the 243rd Report of the Law Commission dated 30th August, 2012, 140th Report of the Rajya Sabha Committee on Petitions (September, 2011) and earlier decisions of this Court. We are conscious of the object for which the provision was brought into the statute. At the same time, violation of human rights of innocent cannot be brushed aside. Certain safeguards against uncalled for arrest or insensitive investigation have been addressed by this Court. Still, the problem continues to a great extent.
  2. To remedy the situation, we are of the view that involvement of civil society in the aid of administration of justice can be one of the steps, apart from the investigating officers and the concerned 12 Gian Singh vs. State of Punjab (2012) 10 SCC 303- para-61, (2014) 5 SCC 364- para -14 trial courts being sensitized. It is also necessary to facilitate closure of proceedings where a genuine settlement has been reached instead of parties being required to move High Court only for that purpose.
  3. Thus, after careful consideration of the whole issue, we consider it fit to give following directions :-
  4. i) (a) In every district one or more Family Welfare Committees be constituted by the District Legal Services Authorities preferably comprising of three members. The constitution and working of such committees may be reviewed from time to time and at least once in a year by the District and Sessions Judge of the district who is also the Chairman of the District Legal Services Authority.

(b) The Committees may be constituted out of para legal volunteers/social workers/retired persons/wives of working officers/other citizens who may be found suitable and willing.

(c) The Committee members will not be called as witnesses.

(d) Every complaint under Section 498A received by the police or the Magistrate be referred to and looked into by such committee. Such committee may have interaction with the parties personally or by means of telephone or any other mode of communication including electronic communication.

(e) Report of such committee be given to the Authority by whom the complaint is referred to it latest within one month from the date of receipt of complaint.

(f) The committee may give its brief report about the factual aspects and its opinion in the matter.

(g) Till report of the committee is received, no arrest should normally be effected.

(h) The report may be then considered by the Investigating Officer or the Magistrate on its own merit.

(i) Members of the committee may be given such basic minimum training as may be considered necessary by the Legal Services Authority from time to time.

(j) The Members of the committee may be given such honorarium as may be considered viable.

(k) It will be open to the District and Sessions Judge to utilize the cost fund wherever considered necessary and proper.

 

  1. ii) Complaints under Section 498A and other connected offences may be investigated only by a designated Investigating Officer of the area. Such designations may be made within one month from today. Such designated officer may be required to undergo training for such duration (not less than one week) as may be considered appropriate. The training may be completed within four months from today;

iii) In cases where a settlement is reached, it will be open to the District and Sessions Judge or any other senior Judicial Officer nominated by him in the district to dispose of the proceedings including closing of the criminal case if dispute primarily relates to matrimonial discord;

  1. iv) If a bail application is filed with at least one clear day’s notice to the Public Prosecutor/complainant, the same may be decided as far as possible on the same day. Recovery of disputed dowry items may not by itself be a ground for denial of bail if maintenance or other rights of wife/minor children can otherwise be protected. Needless to say that in dealing with bail matters, individual roles, prima facie truth of the allegations, requirement of further arrest/ custody and interest of justice must be carefully weighed;
  2. v) In respect of persons ordinarily residing out of India impounding of passports or issuance of Red Corner Notice should not be a routine;
  3. vi) It will be open to the District Judge or a designated senior judicial officer nominated by the District Judge to club all connected cases between the parties arising out of matrimonial disputes so that a holistic view is taken by the Court to whom all such cases are entrusted; and

vii) Personal appearance of all family members and particularly outstation members may not be required and the trial court ought to grant exemption from personal appearance or permit appearance by video conferencing without adversely affecting progress of the trial.

viii) These directions will not apply to the offences involving tangible physical injuries or death.

  1. After seeing the working of the above arrangement for six months but latest by March 31, 2018, National Legal Services Authority may give a report about need for any change in above directions or for any further directions. The matter may be listed for consideration by the Court in April, 2018.
  2. Copies of this order be sent to National Legal Services Authority, Director General of Police of all the States and the Registrars of all the High Courts for further appropriate action.
  3. It will be open to the parties in the present case to approach the concerned trial or other court for further orders in the light of the above directions.

 

…………………………………….J.

 

(Adarsh Kumar Goel) …………………………………….J.

 

(Uday Umesh Lalit) New Delhi;

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cropped-leges-juris-associates.jpg

There is phenomenal increase in matrimonial disputes in recent years.
The institution of marriage is greatly revered in this country. Section
498-A of the IPC was introduced with avowed object to combat the menace of
harassment to a woman at the hands of her husband and his relatives. The
fact that Section 498-A is a cognizable and non-bailable offence has lent
it a dubious place of pride amongst the provisions that are used as weapons
rather than shield by disgruntled wives. The simplest way to harass is to
get the husband and his relatives arrested under this provision. In a
quite number of cases, bed-ridden grand-fathers and grand-mothers of the
husbands, their sisters living abroad for decades are arrested. “Crime in
India 2012 Statistics” published by National Crime Records Bureau,
Ministry of Home Affairs shows arrest of 1,97,762 persons all over India
during the year 2012 for offence under Section 498-A of the IPC, 9.4% more
than the year 2011. Nearly a quarter of those arrested under this
provision in 2012 were women i.e. 47,951 which depicts that mothers and
sisters of the husbands were liberally included in their arrest net. Its
share is 6% out of the total persons arrested under the crimes committed
under Indian Penal Code. It accounts for 4.5% of total crimes committed
under different sections of penal code, more than any other crimes
excepting theft and hurt. The rate of charge-sheeting in cases under
Section 498A, IPC is as high as 93.6%, while the conviction rate is only
15%, which is lowest across all heads. As many as 3,72,706 cases are
pending trial of which on current estimate, nearly 3,17,000 are likely to
result in acquittal.

 

Arrest brings humiliation, curtails freedom and cast scars forever.
Law makers know it so also the police. There is a battle between the law
makers and the police and it seems that police has not learnt its lesson;
the lesson implicit and embodied in the Cr.PC. It has not come out of its
colonial image despite six decades of independence, it is largely
considered as a tool of harassment, oppression and surely not considered a
friend of public. The need for caution in exercising the drastic power of
arrest has been emphasized time and again by Courts but has not yielded
desired result. Power to arrest greatly contributes to its arrogance so
also the failure of the Magistracy to check it. Not only this, the power
of arrest is one of the lucrative sources of police corruption. The
attitude to arrest first and then proceed with the rest is despicable. It
has become a handy tool to the police officers who lack sensitivity or act
with oblique motive.

———————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 1277 OF 2014
(@SPECIAL LEAVE PETITION (CRL.) No.9127 of 2013)
ARNESH KUMAR ….. APPELLANT
VERSUS
STATE OF BIHAR & ANR. …. RESPONDENTS
J U D G M E N T
Chandramauli Kr. Prasad
The petitioner apprehends his arrest in a case under Section 498-A of
the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (hereinafter called as IPC) and Section 4 of
the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961. The maximum sentence provided under
Section 498-A IPC is imprisonment for a term which may extend to three
years and fine whereas the maximum sentence provided under Section 4 of the
Dowry Prohibition Act is two years and with fine.
Petitioner happens to be the husband of respondent no.2 Sweta Kiran.
The marriage between them was solemnized on 1st July, 2007. His attempt to
secure anticipatory bail has failed and hence he has knocked the door of
this Court by way of this Special Leave Petition.
Leave granted.
In sum and substance, allegation levelled by the wife against the
appellant is that demand of Rupees eight lacs, a maruti car, an
air-conditioner, television set etc. was made by her mother-in-law and
father-in-law and when this fact was brought to the appellant’s notice, he
supported his mother and threatened to marry another woman. It has been
alleged that she was driven out of the matrimonial home due to non-
fulfilment of the demand of dowry.
Denying these allegations, the appellant preferred an application for
anticipatory bail which was earlier rejected by the learned Sessions Judge
and thereafter by the High Court.
There is phenomenal increase in matrimonial disputes in recent years.
The institution of marriage is greatly revered in this country. Section
498-A of the IPC was introduced with avowed object to combat the menace of
harassment to a woman at the hands of her husband and his relatives. The
fact that Section 498-A is a cognizable and non-bailable offence has lent
it a dubious place of pride amongst the provisions that are used as weapons
rather than shield by disgruntled wives. The simplest way to harass is to
get the husband and his relatives arrested under this provision. In a
quite number of cases, bed-ridden grand-fathers and grand-mothers of the
husbands, their sisters living abroad for decades are arrested. “Crime in
India 2012 Statistics” published by National Crime Records Bureau,
Ministry of Home Affairs shows arrest of 1,97,762 persons all over India
during the year 2012 for offence under Section 498-A of the IPC, 9.4% more
than the year 2011. Nearly a quarter of those arrested under this
provision in 2012 were women i.e. 47,951 which depicts that mothers and
sisters of the husbands were liberally included in their arrest net. Its
share is 6% out of the total persons arrested under the crimes committed
under Indian Penal Code. It accounts for 4.5% of total crimes committed
under different sections of penal code, more than any other crimes
excepting theft and hurt. The rate of charge-sheeting in cases under
Section 498A, IPC is as high as 93.6%, while the conviction rate is only
15%, which is lowest across all heads. As many as 3,72,706 cases are
pending trial of which on current estimate, nearly 3,17,000 are likely to
result in acquittal.
Arrest brings humiliation, curtails freedom and cast scars forever.
Law makers know it so also the police. There is a battle between the law
makers and the police and it seems that police has not learnt its lesson;
the lesson implicit and embodied in the Cr.PC. It has not come out of its
colonial image despite six decades of independence, it is largely
considered as a tool of harassment, oppression and surely not considered a
friend of public. The need for caution in exercising the drastic power of
arrest has been emphasized time and again by Courts but has not yielded
desired result. Power to arrest greatly contributes to its arrogance so
also the failure of the Magistracy to check it. Not only this, the power
of arrest is one of the lucrative sources of police corruption. The
attitude to arrest first and then proceed with the rest is despicable. It
has become a handy tool to the police officers who lack sensitivity or act
with oblique motive.
Law Commissions, Police Commissions and this Court in a large number
of judgments emphasized the need to maintain a balance between individual
liberty and societal order while exercising the power of arrest. Police
officers make arrest as they believe that they possess the power to do so.
As the arrest curtails freedom, brings humiliation and casts scars forever,
we feel differently. We believe that no arrest should be made only
because the offence is non-bailable and cognizable and therefore, lawful
for the police officers to do so. The existence of the power to arrest is
one thing, the justification for the exercise of it is quite another. Apart
from power to arrest, the police officers must be able to justify the
reasons thereof. No arrest can be made in a routine manner on a mere
allegation of commission of an offence made against a person. It would be
prudent and wise for a police officer that no arrest is made without a
reasonable satisfaction reached after some investigation as to the
genuineness of the allegation. Despite this legal position, the Legislature
did not find any improvement. Numbers of arrest have not decreased.
Ultimately, the Parliament had to intervene and on the recommendation of
the 177th Report of the Law Commission submitted in the year 2001, Section
41 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (for short ‘Cr.PC), in the present
form came to be enacted. It is interesting to note that such a
recommendation was made by the Law Commission in its 152nd and 154th Report
submitted as back in the year 1994. The value of the proportionality
permeates the amendment relating to arrest. As the offence with which we
are concerned in the present appeal, provides for a maximum punishment of
imprisonment which may extend to seven years and fine, Section 41(1)(b),
Cr.PC which is relevant for the purpose reads as follows:
“41. When police may arrest without warrant.-(1) Any police officer may
without an order from a Magistrate and without a warrant, arrest any person
(a)x x x x x x
(b)against whom a reasonable complaint has been made, or credible
information has been received, or a reasonable suspicion exists that he has
committed a cognizable offence punishable with imprisonment for a term
which may be less than seven years or which may extend to seven years
whether with or without fine, if the following conditions are satisfied,
namely :-
(i) x x x x x
(ii) the police officer is satisfied that such arrest is necessary –
to prevent such person from committing any further offence; or
for proper investigation of the offence; or
to prevent such person from causing the evidence of the offence to
disappear or tampering with such evidence in any manner; or
to prevent such person from making any inducement, threat or promise to any
person acquainted with the facts of the case so as to dissuade him from
disclosing such facts to the Court or to the police officer; or
as unless such person is arrested, his presence in the Court whenever
required cannot be ensured,
and the police officer shall record while making such arrest, his reasons
in writing:
Provided that a police officer shall, in all cases where the arrest of a
person is not required under the provisions of this sub-section, record the
reasons in writing for not making the arrest.
X x x x x x
From a plain reading of the aforesaid provision, it is evident that a
person accused of offence punishable with imprisonment for a term which may
be less than seven years or which may extend to seven years with or without
fine, cannot be arrested by the police officer only on its satisfaction
that such person had committed the offence punishable as aforesaid. Police
officer before arrest, in such cases has to be further satisfied that such
arrest is necessary to prevent such person from committing any further
offence; or for proper investigation of the case; or to prevent the accused
from causing the evidence of the offence to disappear; or tampering with
such evidence in any manner; or to prevent such person from making any
inducement, threat or promise to a witness so as to dissuade him from
disclosing such facts to the Court or the police officer; or unless such
accused person is arrested, his presence in the court whenever required
cannot be ensured. These are the conclusions, which one may reach based on
facts. Law mandates the police officer to state the facts and record the
reasons in writing which led him to come to a conclusion covered by any of
the provisions aforesaid, while making such arrest. Law further requires
the police officers to record the reasons in writing for not making the
arrest. In pith and core, the police office before arrest must put a
question to himself, why arrest? Is it really required? What purpose it
will serve? What object it will achieve? It is only after these questions
are addressed and one or the other conditions as enumerated above is
satisfied, the power of arrest needs to be exercised. In fine, before
arrest first the police officers should have reason to believe on the basis
of information and material that the accused has committed the offence.
Apart from this, the police officer has to be satisfied further that the
arrest is necessary for one or the more purposes envisaged by sub-clauses
(a) to (e) of clause (1) of Section 41 of Cr.PC.
An accused arrested without warrant by the police has the
constitutional right under Article 22(2) of the Constitution of India and
Section 57, Cr.PC to be produced before the Magistrate without unnecessary
delay and in no circumstances beyond 24 hours excluding the time necessary
for the journey. During the course of investigation of a case, an accused
can be kept in detention beyond a period of 24 hours only when it is
authorised by the Magistrate in exercise of power under Section 167 Cr.PC.
The power to authorise detention is a very solemn function. It affects the
liberty and freedom of citizens and needs to be exercised with great care
and caution. Our experience tells us that it is not exercised with the
seriousness it deserves. In many of the cases, detention is authorised in a
routine, casual and cavalier manner. Before a Magistrate authorises
detention under Section 167, Cr.PC, he has to be first satisfied that the
arrest made is legal and in accordance with law and all the constitutional
rights of the person arrested is satisfied. If the arrest effected by the
police officer does not satisfy the requirements of Section 41 of the Code,
Magistrate is duty bound not to authorise his further detention and release
the accused. In other words, when an accused is produced before the
Magistrate, the police officer effecting the arrest is required to furnish
to the Magistrate, the facts, reasons and its conclusions for arrest and
the Magistrate in turn is to be satisfied that condition precedent for
arrest under Section 41 Cr.PC has been satisfied and it is only thereafter
that he will authorise the detention of an accused. The Magistrate before
authorising detention will record its own satisfaction, may be in brief but
the said satisfaction must reflect from its order. It shall never be
based upon the ipse dixit of the police officer, for example, in case the
police officer considers the arrest necessary to prevent such person from
committing any further offence or for proper investigation of the case or
for preventing an accused from tampering with evidence or making inducement
etc., the police officer shall furnish to the Magistrate the facts, the
reasons and materials on the basis of which the police officer had reached
its conclusion. Those shall be perused by the Magistrate while authorising
the detention and only after recording its satisfaction in writing that the
Magistrate will authorise the detention of the accused. In fine, when a
suspect is arrested and produced before a Magistrate for authorising
detention, the Magistrate has to address the question whether specific
reasons have been recorded for arrest and if so, prima facie those reasons
are relevant and secondly a reasonable conclusion could at all be reached
by the police officer that one or the other conditions stated above are
attracted. To this limited extent the Magistrate will make judicial
scrutiny.
Another provision i.e. Section 41A Cr.PC aimed to avoid
unnecessary arrest or threat of arrest looming large on accused requires to
be vitalised. Section 41A as inserted by Section 6 of the Code of
Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Act, 2008(Act 5 of 2009), which is relevant
in the context reads as follows:
“41A. Notice of appearance before police officer.-(1) The police officer
shall, in all cases where the arrest of a person is not required under the
provisions of sub-section (1) of Section 41, issue a notice directing the
person against whom a reasonable complaint has been made, or credible
information has been received, or a reasonable suspicion exists that he has
committed a cognizable offence, to appear before him or at such other place
as may be specified in the notice.
(2) Where such a notice is issued to any person, it shall be the duty of
that person to comply with the terms of the notice.
(3) Where such person complies and continues to comply with the notice, he
shall not be arrested in respect of the offence referred to in the notice
unless, for reasons to be recorded, the police officer is of the opinion
that he ought to be arrested.
(4) Where such person, at any time, fails to comply with the terms of the
notice or is unwilling to identify himself, the police officer may, subject
to such orders as may have been passed by a competent Court in this behalf,
arrest him for the offence mentioned in the notice.”
Aforesaid provision makes it clear that in all cases where the
arrest of a person is not required under Section 41(1), Cr.PC, the police
officer is required to issue notice directing the accused to appear before
him at a specified place and time. Law obliges such an accused to appear
before the police officer and it further mandates that if such an accused
complies with the terms of notice he shall not be arrested, unless for
reasons to be recorded, the police office is of the opinion that the arrest
is necessary. At this stage also, the condition precedent for arrest as
envisaged under Section 41 Cr.PC has to be complied and shall be subject to
the same scrutiny by the Magistrate as aforesaid.
We are of the opinion that if the provisions of Section 41,
Cr.PC which authorises the police officer to arrest an accused without an
order from a Magistrate and without a warrant are scrupulously enforced,
the wrong committed by the police officers intentionally or unwittingly
would be reversed and the number of cases which come to the Court for grant
of anticipatory bail will substantially reduce. We would like to emphasise
that the practice of mechanically reproducing in the case diary all or most
of the reasons contained in Section 41 Cr.PC for effecting arrest be
discouraged and discontinued.
Our endeavour in this judgment is to ensure that police officers do not
arrest accused unnecessarily and Magistrate do not authorise detention
casually and mechanically. In order to ensure what we have observed above,
we give the following direction:
All the State Governments to instruct its police officers not to
automatically arrest when a case under Section 498-A of the IPC is
registered but to satisfy themselves about the necessity for arrest under
the parameters laid down above flowing from Section 41, Cr.PC;
All police officers be provided with a check list containing specified sub-
clauses under Section 41(1)(b)(ii);
The police officer shall forward the check list duly filed and furnish the
reasons and materials which necessitated the arrest, while
forwarding/producing the accused before the Magistrate for further
detention;
The Magistrate while authorising detention of the accused shall peruse the
report furnished by the police officer in terms aforesaid and only after
recording its satisfaction, the Magistrate will authorise detention;
The decision not to arrest an accused, be forwarded to the Magistrate
within two weeks from the date of the institution of the case with a copy
to the Magistrate which may be extended by the Superintendent of police of
the district for the reasons to be recorded in writing;
Notice of appearance in terms of Section 41A of Cr.PC be served on the
accused within two weeks from the date of institution of the case, which
may be extended by the Superintendent of Police of the District for the
reasons to be recorded in writing;
Failure to comply with the directions aforesaid shall apart from rendering
the police officers concerned liable for departmental action, they shall
also be liable to be punished for contempt of court to be instituted before
High Court having territorial jurisdiction.
Authorising detention without recording reasons as aforesaid by the
judicial Magistrate concerned shall be liable for departmental action by
the appropriate High Court.
We hasten to add that the directions aforesaid shall not only apply to the
cases under Section 498-A of the I.P.C. or Section 4 of the Dowry
Prohibition Act, the case in hand, but also such cases where offence is
punishable with imprisonment for a term which may be less than seven years
or which may extend to seven years; whether with or without fine.
We direct that a copy of this judgment be forwarded to the Chief
Secretaries as also the Director Generals of Police of all the State
Governments and the Union Territories and the Registrar General of all the
High Courts for onward transmission and ensuring its compliance.
By order dated 31st of October, 2013, this Court had granted
provisional bail to the appellant on certain conditions. We make this order
absolute.
In the result, we allow this appeal, making our aforesaid order dated 31st
October, 2013 absolute; with the directions aforesaid.
………………………………………………………………J
(CHANDRAMAULI KR. PRASAD)
………………………………………………………………J
(PINAKI CHANDRA GHOSE)
NEW DELHI,
July 2, 2014.
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 1674 OF 2012
(Arising out of SLP (Crl.) No. 10547/2010)
Geeta Mehrotra & Anr. ..Appellants
Versus
State of U.P. & Anr. . Respondents
J U D G M E N T
GYAN SUDHA MISRA, J.
1. This appeal by special leave in which we granted leave has been filed by the appellants against the order dated 6.9.2010 passed by the High Court of Judicature at Allahabad in Crl. Miscellaneous Application No.22714/2007 whereby the High Court had been pleased to dispose of the application moved by the appellants under Section 482 Cr.P.C. for quashing the order of the Magistrate taking cognizance against the appellants under Sections 498A/323/504/506 IPC read with Section 3/4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act with an observation that the question of territorial jurisdiction cannot be properly decided by the High Court under Section 482 Cr.P.C. for want of adequate facts. It was, therefore, left open to the appellants to move the trial court for dropping the proceedings on the ground of lack of territorial jurisdiction. The High Court however granted interim protection to the appellants by directing the authorities not to issue coercive process against the appellants until disposal of the application filed by the appellants with a further direction to the trial court to dispose of the application if moved by the appellants, within a period of two months from the date of moving the application. The application under Section 482 Cr.P.C. was thus disposed of by the High Court.
2. The appellants in spite of the liberty granted to them to move the trial court, have filed this appeal for quashing the proceedings which had been initiated on the basis of a case lodged by the respondent No.2 Smt. Shipra Mehrotra (earlier known as Shipra Seth) against her husband, father-in-law, mother-in-law, brother-in-law and sister-in-law. This appeal has been preferred by the sister-in- law, who is appellant No.1 and brother-in-law of the complainant, who is appellant No.2.
3. The case emerges out of the first information report lodged by respondent No.2 Smt. Shipra Mehrotra under Sections 498A/323/504/506 IPC read with Section 3/4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act bearing F.I.R.No. 52/2004. The F.I.R. was registered at Mahila Thana Daraganj, Allahabad wherein the complainant alleged that she was married to Shyamji Mehrotra s/o Balbir Saran who was living at Eros Garden, Charmswood Village, Faridabad, Suraj Kund Road at Faridabad Haryana as per the Hindu marriage rites and customs. Prior to marriage the complainant and her family members were told by Shyamji Mehrotra and his elder brother Ramji Mehrotra who is appellant No.2 herein and their mother Smt. Kamla Mehrotra and her sister Geeta Mehrotra who is appellant No.1 herein that Shyamji is employed as a Team Leader in a top I.T. Company in Chennai and is getting salary of Rs.45,000/- per month. After negotiation between the parents of the complainant and the accused parties, the marriage of the complainant Shipra Seth (later Shipra Mehrotra) and Shyamji Mehrotra was performed after which the respondent-complainant left for the house of her in- laws.
4. It was stated that the atmosphere in the house was peaceful for sometime but soon after the wedding, when all the relatives left, the maid who cooked meals was first of all paid-off by the aforesaid four persons who then told the complainant that from now onwards, the complainant will have to prepare food for the family. In addition, the above mentioned people started taunting and scolding her on trivial issues. The complainant also came to know that Shyamji was not employed anywhere and always stayed in the house. Shyamji gradually took away all the money which the complainant had with her and then told her that her father had not given dowry properly, therefore, she should get Rupees five lakhs from her father in order to enable him to start business, because he was not getting any job. When the complainant clearly declined and stated that she will not ask her parents for money, Shyamji, on instigation of other accused-family members, started beating her occasionally. To escape every day torture and financial status of the family, the complainant took up a job in a Call Centre at Convergys on 17.2.2003 where the complainant had to do night shifts due to which she used to come back home at around 3 a.m. in the morning. Just on her return from work, the household people started playing bhajan cassettes after which she had to getup at 7’o clock in the morning to prepare and serve food to all the members in the family. Often on falling asleep in the morning, Shyamji, Kamla Devi and Geeta Mehrotra tortured the complainant every day mentally and physically. Ramji Mehrotra often provoked the other three family members to torture and often used to make the complainant feel sad by making inappropriate statements about the complainant and her parents. Her husband Shyamji also took away the salary from the complainant.
5. After persistent efforts, Shyamji finally got a job in Chennai and he went to Chennai for the job in May, 2003. But, it is alleged that there was no change in his behaviour even after going to Chennai. The complainant often called him on phone to talk to him but he always did irrelevant conversation. He never spoke properly with the complainant whenever he visited home and often used to hurl filthy abuses. The complainant states that she often wept and tolerated the tortures of the accused persons for a long time but did not complain to her family members, as that would have made them feel sad. At last, when the complainant realized that even her life was in danger, she was compelled to tell everything to her father on phone who was very upset on hearing her woes. On 15.7.2003 complainant heard some conversation of her mother-in-law and sister-in-law from which it appeared to her that they want to kill the complainant in the night only. Thereupon the complainant apprised her father of the situation on phone to which her father replied that he will call back her father-in-law and she should go with him immediately and he will come in the morning. The father-in-law Satish Dhawan and his wife who were living in NOIDA thereafter came in the night and somehow took the complainant to their home who also came to know of everything. The complainant’s father and brother later went to her matrimonial home on 16.7.2003. On seeing her father and brother, Kamla Mehrotra and Geeta Mehrotra started speaking loudly and started saying that Shyamji would be coming by the evening and so he should come in the evening for talking to them. Her father and brother then went away from there. That very day, her husband Shyamji and brother-in-law Ramji also reached home. On reaching there, Shyamji abused her on phone and told her to send her father.
6. When father and brother of the complainant went home in the evening, they were also insulted by all the four and video camera and tape were played and in the end they were told that they should leave from here. Insulted, they came back from there and then came back to Allahabad with the complainant. For many days the complainant and her family members hoped that the situation would improve if the matter was resolved. Many times other people tried to persuade the in – laws but to no avail. Her brother went to their house to talk to her in – laws but it came to his knowledge that the in – laws had changed their house. After much effort, they came to know that the father-in- law and mother-in-law started living at B-39, Brahma cooperative group housing society, block 7, sector-7, Dwarka, Delhi. On 19.09.04 evening, her father talked to Kamla Mehrotra and Geeta Mehrotra regarding the complainant using bad words and it was said that if her daughter came there she will be kicked out. After some time Shyamji rang up at complainant’s home but on hearing the complainant’s voice, he told her abusively that now she should not come his way and she should tell her father not to phone him in future. At approximately 10:30 pm in the night Ramji’s phone came to the complainant’s home. He used bad words while talking to her father and in the end said that he had got papers prepared in his defence and he may do whatever he could but if he could afford to give Rs.10 lakhs then it should be conveyed after which he will reconsider the matter. If the girl was sent to his place without money, then even her dead body will not be found.
7. On hearing these talks of the accused, the complainant believed that her in-laws will not let the complainant enter their home without taking ten lakhs and if the complainant went there on her own, she will not be safe. Hence, she lodged the report wherein she prayed that the SHO Daraganj should be ordered to do the needful after registering the case against the accused Shyam Mehrotra, Ramji Mehrotra, Kamla Mehrotra and Geeta Mehrotra. Thus, in substance, the complainant related the bickering at her matrimonial home which made her life miserable in several ways and compelled her to leave her in- law’s place in order to live with her father where she lodged a police case as stated hereinbefore.
8. On the basis of the complaint, the investigating authorities at P.S. Daraganj, Allahabad started investigation of the case and thereafter the police submitted chargesheet against the appellants and other family members of the complainant’s husband.
9. Hence, the appellants who are sister and brother of the complainant’s husband filed petition under Section 482 Cr.P.C. for quashing of the chargesheet and the entire proceedings pending in the court of learned Judicial Magistrate, Court No.IV, Allahabad, inter- alia, on the ground that FIR has been lodged with mala fide intentions to harass the appellants and that no case was made out against the appellants as well as other family members. But the principal ground of challenge to the FIR was that the incident although was alleged to have taken place at Faridabad and the investigation should have been done there only, the complainant with mala fide intention in connivance with the father of the complainant, got the investigating officer to record the statements by visiting Ghaziabad which was beyond his territorial jurisdiction and cannot be construed as legal and proper investigation. It was also alleged that the father of the complainant got the arrest warrant issued through George Town Police Station, Allahabad, in spite of the cause of action having arisen at Allahabad.
10. This appeal has been preferred by Kumari Geeta Mehrotra i.e. the sister of the complainant’s husband and Ramji Mehrotra i.e. the elder brother of the complainant’s husband assailing the order of the High Court and it was submitted that the Hon’ble High Court ought to have appreciated that the complainant who had already obtained an ex-parte decree of divorce, is pursuing the present case through her father with the sole purpose to unnecessarily harass the appellants to extract money from them as all efforts of mediation had failed.
11. However, the grounds of challenge before this Court to the order of the High Court, inter alia is that the High Court had failed to appreciate that the investigation had been done by the authority without following due process of law which also lacked territorial jurisdiction. The relevant documents/parcha diary for deciding the territorial jurisdiction had been overlooked as the FIR has been lodged at Allahabad although the cause of action of the entire incident is alleged to have taken place at Faridabad (Haryana). It was, therefore, submitted that the investigating authorities of the Allahabad have traversed beyond the territorial limits which is clearly an abuse of the process of law and the High Court has failed to exercise its inherent powers under Section 482 Cr.P.C. in the facts and circumstances of this case and allowed the proceedings to go on before the trial court although it had no jurisdiction to adjudicate the same.
12. It was further averred that the High Court had failed to examine the facts of the FIR to see whether the facts stated in the FIR constitute any prima facie case making out an offence against the sister-in-law and brother-in-law of the complainant and whether there was at all any material to constitute an offence against the appellants and their family members. Attention of this Court was further invited to the contradictions in the statement of the complainant and her father which indicate material contradictions indicating that the complainant and her father have concocted the story to implicate the appellants as well as all their family members in a criminal case merely with a mala fide intention to settle her scores and extract money from the family of her ex-husband Shyamji Mehrotra and his family members.
13. On a perusal of the complaint and other materials on record as also analysis of the arguments advanced by the contesting parties in the light of the settled principles of law reflected in a catena of decisions, it is apparent that the High Court has not applied its mind on the question as to whether the case was fit to be quashed against the appellants and has merely disposed of the petition granting liberty to the appellants to move the trial court and raise contentions on the ground as to whether it has territorial jurisdiction to continue with the trial in the light of the averment that no part of the cause of action had arisen at Allahabad and the entire incident even as per the FIR had taken place at Faridabad.
14. The High Court further overlooked the fact that during the pendency of this case, the complainant-respondent No.2 has obtained an ex-parte decree of divorce against her husband Shyamji Mehrotra and the High Court failed to apply its mind whether any case could be held to have been made out against Kumari Geeta Mehrotra and Ramji Mehrotra, who are the unmarried sister and elder brother of the complainant’s ex-husband. Facts of the FIR even as it stands indicate that although a prima facie case against the husband Shyamji Mehrotra and some other accused persons may or may not be constituted, it surely appears to be a case where no ingredients making out a case against the unmarried sister of the accused Shyamji Mehrotra and his brother Ramji Mehrotra appear to be existing for even when the complainant came to her in-law’s house after her wedding, she has alleged physical and mental torture by stating in general that she had been ordered to do household activities of cooking meals for the whole family. But there appears to be no specific allegation against the sister and brother of the complainant’s husband as to how they could be implicated into the mutual bickering between the complainant and her husband Shyamji Mehrotra including his parents.
15. Under the facts and circumstance of similar nature in the case of Ramesh vs. State of Tamil Nadu reported in (2005) SCC (Crl.) 735 at 738 allegations were made in a complaint against the husband, the in-laws, husband’s brother and sister who were all the petitioners before the High Court wherein after registration of the F.I.R. and investigation, the charge sheet was filed by the Inspector of Police in the court of Judicial Magistrate III, Trichy. Thereupon, the learned magistrate took cognizance of the offence and issued warrants against the appellants on 13.2.2002. Four of the accused-appellants were arrested and released on bail by the magistrate at Mumbai. The appellants had filed petition under Section 482, Cr.P.C. before the Madras High Court for quashing the proceedings in complaint case on the file of the Judicial Magistrate III, Trichy. The High Court by the impugned order dismissed the petition observing that the grounds raised by the petitioners were all subject matters to be heard by the trial court for better appreciation after conducting full trial as the High Court was of the view that it was only desirable to dismiss the criminal original petition and the same was also dismissed. However, the High Court had directed the Magistrate to dispense with the personal attendance of the appellants.
16. Aggrieved by the order of the Madras High Court dismissing the petition under Section 482 Cr.P.C., the special leave petition was filed in this Court giving rise to the appeals therein where threefold contentions were raised viz., (i) that the allegations are frivolous and without any basis; (ii) even according to the FIR, no incriminating acts were done within the jurisdiction of Trichy Police Station and the court at Trichy and, therefore, the learned magistrate lacked territorial jurisdiction to take cognizance of the offence and (iii) taking cognizance of the alleged offence at that stage was barred under Section 468(1) Cr.P.C. as it was beyond the period of limitation prescribed under Section 468(2) Cr.P.C. Apart from the subsequent two contentions, it was urged that the allegations under the FIR do not make out any offence of which cognizance could be taken.
17. Their Lordships of the Supreme Court in this matter had been pleased to hold that the bald allegations made against the sister in law by the complainant appeared to suggest the anxiety of the informant to rope in as many of the husband’s relatives as possible. It was held that neither the FIR nor the charge sheet furnished the legal basis for the magistrate to take cognizance of the offences alleged against the appellants. The learned Judges were pleased to hold that looking to the allegations in the FIR and the contents of the charge sheet, none of the alleged offences under Section 498 A, 406 and Section 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act were made against the married sister of the complainant’s husband who was undisputedly not living with the family of the complainant’s husband. Their Lordships of the Supreme Court were pleased to hold that the High Court ought not to have relegated the sister in law to the ordeal of trial. Accordingly, the proceedings against the appellants were quashed and the appeal was allowed.
18. In so far as the plea of territorial jurisdiction is concerned, it is no doubt true that the High Court was correct to the extent that the question of territorial jurisdiction could be decided by the trial court itself. But this ground was just one of the grounds to quash the proceedings initiated against the appellants under Section 482 Cr.P.C. wherein it was also alleged that no prima facie case was made out against the appellants for initiating the proceedings under the Dowry Prohibition Act and other provisions of the IPC. The High Court has failed to exercise its jurisdiction in so far as the consideration of the case of the appellants are concerned, who are only brother and sister of the complainant’s husband and are not alleged even by the complainant to have demanded dowry from her. The High Court, therefore, ought to have considered that even if the trial court at Allahabad had the jurisdiction to hold the trial, the question still remained as to whether the trial against the brother and sister of the husband was fit to be continued and whether that would amount to abuse of the process of the court.
19. Coming to the facts of this case, when the contents of the FIR is perused, it is apparent that there are no allegations against Kumari Geeta Mehrotra and Ramji Mehrotra except casual reference of their names who have been included in the FIR but mere casual reference of the names of the family members in a matrimonial dispute without allegation of active involvement in the matter would not justify taking cognizance against them overlooking the fact borne out of experience that there is a tendency to involve the entire family members of the household in the domestic quarrel taking place in a matrimonial dispute specially if it happens soon after the wedding.
20. It would be relevant at this stage to take note of an apt observation of this Court recorded in the matter of G.V. Rao vs. L.H.V. Prasad & Ors. reported in (2000) 3 SCC 693 wherein also in a matrimonial dispute, this Court had held that the High Court should have quashed the complaint arising out of a matrimonial dispute wherein all family members had been roped into the matrimonial litigation which was quashed and set aside. Their Lordships observed therein with which we entirely agree that:
“there has been an outburst of matrimonial dispute in recent times. Marriage is a sacred ceremony, main purpose of which is to enable the young couple to settle down in life and live peacefully. But little matrimonial skirmishes suddenly erupt which often assume serious proportions resulting in heinous crimes in which elders of the family are also involved with the result that those who could have counselled and brought about rapprochement are rendered helpless on their being arrayed as accused in the criminal case. There are many reasons which need not be mentioned here for not encouraging matrimonial litigation so that the parties may ponder over their defaults and terminate the disputes amicably by mutual agreement instead of fighting it out in a court of law where it takes years and years to conclude and in that process the parties lose their “young” days in chasing their cases in different courts.”
The view taken by the judges in this matter was that the courts would not encourage such disputes.
21. In yet another case reported in AIR 2003 SC 1386 in the matter of B.S. Joshi & Ors. vs. State of Haryana & Anr. it was observed that there is no doubt that the object of introducing Chapter XXA containing Section 498A in the Indian Penal Code was to prevent the torture to a woman by her husband or by relatives of her husband. Section 498A was added with a view to punish the husband and his relatives who harass or torture the wife to coerce her relatives to satisfy unlawful demands of dowry. But if the proceedings are initiated by the wife under Section 498A against the husband and his relatives and subsequently she has settled her disputes with her husband and his relatives and the wife and husband agreed for mutual divorce, refusal to exercise inherent powers by the High Court would not be proper as it would prevent woman from settling earlier. Thus for the purpose of securing the ends of justice quashing of FIR becomes necessary, Section 320 Cr.P.C. would not be a bar to the exercise of power of quashing. It would however be a different matter depending upon the facts and circumstances of each case whether to exercise or not to exercise such a power.
22. In the instant matter, when the complainant and her husband are divorced as the complainant-wife secured an ex-parte decree of divorce, the same could have weighed with the High Court to consider whether proceeding initiated prior to the divorce decree was fit to be pursued in spite of absence of specific allegations at least against the brother and sister of the complainant’s husband and whether continuing with this proceeding could not have amounted to abuse of the process of the court. The High Court, however, seems not to have examined these aspects carefully and have thus side- tracked all these considerations merely on the ground that the territorial jurisdiction could be raised only before the magistrate conducting the trial.
23. In the instant case, the question of territorial jurisdiction was just one of the grounds for quashing the proceedings along with the other grounds and, therefore, the High Court should have examined whether the prosecution case was fit to be quashed on other grounds or not. At this stage, the question also crops up whether the matter is fit to be remanded to the High Court to consider all these aspects. But in matters arising out of a criminal case, fresh consideration by remanding the same would further result into a protracted and vexatious proceeding which is unwarranted as was held by this Court in the case of Ramesh vs. State of Tamil Nadu (supra) that such a course of remand would be unnecessary and inexpedient as there was no need to prolong the controversy. The facts in this matter on this aspect was although somewhat different since the complainant had lodged the complaint after seven years of delay, yet in the instant matter the factual position remains that the complaint as it stands lacks ingredients constituting the offence under Section 498A and Section 3/4 Dowry Prohibition Act against the appellants who are sister and brother of the complainant’s husband and their involvement in the whole incident appears only by way of a casual inclusion of their names. Hence, it cannot be overlooked that it would be total abuse of the process of law if we were to remand the matter to the High Court to consider whether there were still any material to hold that the trial should proceed against them in spite of absence of prima facie material constituting the offence alleged against them.
24. However, we deem it appropriate to add by way of caution that we may not be misunderstood so as to infer that even if there are allegation of overt act indicating the complicity of the members of the family named in the FIR in a given case, cognizance would be unjustified but what we wish to emphasize by highlighting is that, if the FIR as it stands does not disclose specific allegation against accused more so against the co-accused specially in a matter arising out of matrimonial bickering, it would be clear abuse of the legal and judicial process to mechanically send the named accused in the FIR to undergo the trial unless of course the FIR discloses specific allegations which would persuade the court to take cognisance of the offence alleged against the relatives of the main accused who are prima facie not found to have indulged in physical and mental torture of the complainant-wife. It is the well settled principle laid down in cases too numerous to mention, that if the FIR did not disclose the commission of an offence, the court would be justified in quashing the proceedings preventing the abuse of the process of law. Simultaneously, the courts are expected to adopt a cautious approach in matters of quashing specially in cases of matrimonial dispute whether the FIR in fact discloses commission of an offence by the relatives of the principal accused or the FIR prima facie discloses a case of over-implication by involving the entire family of the accused at the instance of the complainant, who is out to settle her scores arising out of the teething problem or skirmish of domestic bickering while settling down in her new matrimonial surrounding.
25. In the case at hand, when the brother and unmarried sister of the principal accused Shyamji Mehrotra approached the High Court for quashing the proceedings against them, inter-alia, on the ground of lack of territorial jurisdiction as also on the ground that no case was made out against them under Sections 498A,/323/504/506 including Sections 3/4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, it was the legal duty of the High Court to examine whether there were prima facie material against the appellants so that they could be directed to undergo the trial, besides the question of territorial jurisdiction. The High Court seems to have overlooked all the pleas that were raised and rejected the petition on the solitary ground of territorial jurisdiction giving liberty to the appellants to approach the trial court.
26. The High Court in our considered opinion appear to have missed that assuming the trial court had territorial jurisdiction, it was still left to be decided whether it was a fit case to send the appellants for trial when the FIR failed to make out a prima facie case against them regarding the allegation of inflicting physical and mental torture to the complainant demanding dowry from the complainant. Since the High Court has failed to consider all these aspects, this Court as already stated hereinbefore, could have remitted the matter to the High Court to consider whether a case was made out against the appellants to proceed against them. But as the contents of the FIR does not disclose specific allegation against the brother and sister of the complainant’s husband except casual reference of their names, it would not be just to direct them to go through protracted procedure by remanding for consideration of the matter all over again by the High Court and make the unmarried sister of the main accused and his elder brother to suffer the ordeal of a criminal case pending against them specially when the FIR does not disclose ingredients of offence under Sections 498A/323/504/506, IPC and Sections 3/4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act.
27. We, therefore, deem it just and legally appropriate to quash the proceedings initiated against the appellants Geeta Mehrotra and Ramji Mehrotra as the FIR does not disclose any material which could be held to be constituting any offence against these two appellants. Merely by making a general allegation that they were also involved in physical and mental torture of the complainant-respondent No.2 without mentioning even a single incident against them as also the fact as to how they could be motivated to demand dowry when they are only related as brother and sister of the complainant’s husband, we are pleased to quash and set aside the criminal proceedings in so far as these appellants are concerned and consequently the order passed by the High Court shall stand overruled. The appeal accordingly is allowed.
……………………………J
(T.S. Thakur)
……………………………J
(Gyan Sudha Misra)
New Delhi,
October 17, 2012

HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT ALLAHABAD
Court No. – 46
Case :- CRIMINAL MISC. WRIT PETITION No. – 3322 of 2010

Petitioner :- Re: In The Matter Of Matrimonial Disputes
Respondent :- State Of U.P. & Others
Petitioner Counsel :- P.N. Gangwar
Respondent Counsel :- Govt. Advocate,Abhay Raj Singh,Pankaj Naqvi

Hon’ble Amar Saran,J.
Hon’ble Shyam Shankar Tiwari,J.

On 8.8.2011, there was an extensive hearing in this case when Ms. Leena Jauhari,
Secretary (Home), Government of U.P. Lucknow, Smt. Poonam Sikand, Additional L.R
and Tanuja Srivastava, I.G.( Public Grievances), Ms. G. Sridevi, Secretary, U.P.
State Legal Services Authority, Sri Ashok Mehta, Organising Secretary, Allahabad
High Court, Mediation and Conciliation Centre, Sri Pankaj Naqvi, Sister Sheeba
Jose Advocates on behalf of the intervenor ‘Sahyog,’ Sri D.R. Chaudhary, learned
Government Advocate and Sri Bimlendu Tripathi, learned A.G.A appeared and were
heard at length.

An affidavit has also been filed on behalf of the Director General of Police on
10.8.2011. Another affidavit was also filed on behalf of Special Secretary
(Home), U.P. on 12.8.2011. An application was also moved by the intervenor
‘Sahyog.’

This Court appreciates the positive contributions and suggestions of all the
aforesaid advocates and other State officials and that this pro bono litigation
is being taken up in the right non-adversarial spirit, with the aim to ensure
that wherever allegations are not very grave, in order to save families, and
children and indeed the institution of marriage, an effort be first made for
reconciling matrimonial disputes by mediation before steps can be taken for
prosecuting offenders, if they are called for.

In Preeti Gupta v. State of
Jharkhand, AIR 2010 SC 3363 the learned members of the bar have been reminded of
their noble profession and their noble tradition and of their responsibility to
ensure that the social fibre of family life is preserved by desisting from
over-implicating all in-laws and their relations as accused persons in 498-A IPC
reports, and from filing exaggerated reports. They are also to make an endeavour
to bring about amicable settlements to this essentially human problem. It has
also been rightly pointed out in Sushil Kumar Sharma v Union of India, AIR 2005
SC 3100 (para 18) whilst upholding the vires of section 498-A IPC, that it
should be ensured that complaints are not filed with oblique motives by
unscrupulous litigants so that a “new legal terrorism” is not unleashed, and
that the well-intentioned provision is not misused.

In Kans Raj v State of Punjab, AIR 2000 SC 2324, it has been held that there is
a tendency in cases of 498-A IPC and 304 B IPC to rope in a large number of
in-laws of the victim wife, and not only the husband. In para 5 of the law
report it has been observed: “….In their over enthusiasm and anxiety to seek
conviction for maximum people, the parents of the deceased have been found to be
making efforts for involving other relations which ultimately weaken the case of
the prosecution even against the real accused as appears to have happened in the
instant case.”

Specifically as a result of the interaction and suggestions which emerged after
a dialogue with the Advocates and officials, this Court requires to formulate
its opinion on the following points:

1.Whether registration of an FIR is mandatory once an aggrieved woman or the
eligible family members as specified under section 198A Cr.P.C approaches the
police station giving information that an offence under section 498A IPC or
allied provisions such as under section � D.P. Act or under section 406
I.P.C have been committed by the husband or other in-laws and their relations.

2.Should the concerned police officers immediately proceed to arrest the husband
and other family members of the husband whenever such an FIR is lodged.

3.Can a distinction be made between the cases where arrest is immediately
necessary and other cases where arrest can be deferred and an attempt be first
made for bringing about mediation between the parties.

4.What is the appropriate place where mediation should be conducted.

5.Should a time frame be laid down for concluding the mediation proceedings.

6.Who should be the members of the mediation cell in the district.

7.What is the procedure to be followed by the police when a report of a
cognizable offence under section 498A IPC or allied provisions is disclosed.

8.Is training of mediators desirable and who should conduct the training?

9.Should the offence under Section 498A be made compoundable and what steps the State Government may take in this direction.

Discussions on the points requiring formulation by the Court.

1. Whether registration of an FIR is mandatory?

Section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure mandates that when any information
regarding information of a cognizable offence is given orally to the officer in
charge of the Police Station, he is required to reduce it in writing and to
enter it into the general diary. The said provision gives no option to the
concerned Police Officer to refuse to lodge the F.I.R. once information of a
cognizable offence is given to the police officer.

In paragraph No. 30 and 31 in State of Haryana and others Vs. Bhajan Lal, 1992
Cri. L.J. 527, it has been laid down that section 154 (1) of the Code provides
that whenever an information is given that a cognizable offence has been
committed, the Police Officer cannot embark upon an inquiry to ascertain as to
whether the information was reliable or genuine or refuse to register the case
on that ground. The officer in charge of the Police Station is statutorily
obliged to register the case and then to proceed with the investigation, if he
even has reason to suspect the commission of an offence.

(2) Whether arrest of husband and family members mandatory once FIR is lodged
It is noteworthy that section 154 Cr.P.C. which deals with the powers of
investigation and the necessity of lodging an FIR when a cognizable offence only
speaks of “information relating to the commission of a cognizable offence” given
to an officer. No pre-condition, as pointed out above, is placed under this
provision for first examining whether the information is credible or genuine. In
contrast section 41(1)((b) Cr.P.C dealing with the powers of the police to
arrest without a warrant from a Magistrate requires the existence of a
“reasonable complaint,” or “credible information” or “reasonable suspicion” of
the accused being involved in a cognizable offence as pre-conditions for
effecting his arrest.

The two provisos to section 157 also speak of two exceptions when investigation
(and consequent arrest) may not be necessary. These two situations are:
(a) when information as to the commission of any such offence is given against
any person by name and the case is not of a serious nature, the officer in
charge of a police station need not proceed in person or depute a subordinate
officer to make an investigation on the spot;
(b) if it appears to the officer in charge of a police station that there is no
sufficient ground for entering on an investigation, he shall not investigate the
case. However in such situations the police officer is to mention in his report
the reasons for not investigating the case. In the second case, where a police
officer is of the opinion that there is no sufficient ground for investigating a
matter, he is to also inform the informant of his decision.
The proviso (b) to section 157 (1) Cr. P. C. has been discussed in paragraphs
No. 53 and 54 in Bhajan Lal (supra). The law report clarifies that clause (b) of
the proviso permits a police officer to satisfy himself about the sufficiency of
the grounds even before entering on an investigation. However, at that stage,
the satisfaction that on the allegations, a cognizable offence warranting
investigation is disclosed, has only to be based on the F.I.R. and other
materials appended to it, which are placed before the Police Officer. Therefore,
if it appears to the Police Officer that the matrimonial dispute between the
spouses is either not of a grave nature or is the result of a conflict of egos
or contains an exaggerated version, or where the complainant wife has not
received any injury or has not been medically examined, he may even desist or
defer the investigation in such a case.

Recently by Act No. 5 of 2009, the newly introduced section 41 (1) (b), has been
given effect to from 1.11.2010. This sub-section provides that if some material
or credible information exists of an accused being involved in a cognizable
offence punishable with 7 years imprisonment or less with or without fine, the
Police Officer has only to make an arrest, if he is satisfied that such arrest
is necessary (i) to prevent such person from committing any further offence,
(ii) for proper investigation of the offence; (iii) to prevent such person from
causing the evidence of the offence to disappear or tampering with the evidence
in any manner; (iv) for preventing such person from making any inducement,
threat or promise to a witness to dissuade him from disclosing such facts to the
Court or the Police Officer (v) or unless such a person is arrested, he may not
appear in the Court when required. This new provision has forestalled any
routine arrests simply because a person is said to be involved in a cognizable
offence punishable with imprisonment up to 7 years. The arrest is only to be
effected if any or all of the five conditions abovementioned are fulfilled. For
making or for not making such arrest, the Police Officer has to record his
reasons. In contrast to this provision, under section 41 (1) (ba) such a
limitation has not been provided for those cases, where credible information has
been received that a person has committed an offence punishable with
imprisonment of over 7 years.

A new provision, section 41 A Cr.P.C has also been added by Act No. 5 of 2009
(with effect from 1.11.2010) which gives powers to a Police Officer to issue a
notice directing the person against whom a reasonable complainant has been made
or credible information or reasonable suspicion exists to appear before him or
at any place that he may specify in the notice where the police officer is of
the opinion that the arrest is not required under the provisions of section
41(1) Cr.P.C. but the accused is to comply with the notice and he would not be
arrested, if he continues to comply with the terms of the notice. However, where
the person fails to comply with the notice, the police has all powers to arrest
him, unless there is some order of the Court granting him bail or staying his
arrest.

Now an offence under section 498A IPC is punishable with imprisonment only up to
three years and fine. If there are no injuries on a victim, in our opinion, it
constitutes a fit case for the police officer to exercise powers conferred by
the newly introduced section 41(1)(b) read with section 41 (A), where instead of
straight away arresting the accused, it would be a better option at the initial
stage for the police officer to require the said person to appear before him or
before the Mediation Centre. As pointed out above section 41 A Cr.P.C. permits
calling the person concerned before the police officer himself or to any
specified place. Hence a notice can be given to the accused to appear before the
mediation centre. This restraint on arrest, and placing of conditions or terms
for arrest would also apply a fortiori to the accused family members of the
husband of the aggrieved wife.

It may be pointed out that if the FIR is immediately registered that will
placate the concerns of the aggrieved wife to some extent that action is being
taken on her complaint, and it has not been put on the back burner.

(3) Whether distinction possible between cases necessitating immediate arrest,
and cases where attempt for mediation should first be made

Arrest may be necessitated, if the husband or other in-laws have given a grave
beating to the wife endangering her life or where the wife has been subjected to
repeated violence or there are any other circumstances of exceptional cruelty
against the wife, where future recurrence of violence or cruelty seems likely,
or for preventing the husband and his accused family members from trying to
browbeat witnesses or to tamper with the course of justice, or for ensuring the
presence of the husband or his accused family members at the trial, or for
effective investigation. In all other cases, we are of the opinion that an
attempt should be first made for bringing about reconciliation between the
parties by directing the complainant wife and her natal family members and the
husband and other family members to appear before the Mediation Centre when the
wife or other eligible relations under section 198-A Cr.P.C. approaches the
police station for lodging the report.

The advantage of not immediately arresting the accused husband and his family
members in a trivial case where there appear to be no injuries on the aggrieved
wife, is that in sudden matrimonial disputes, because of clash of egos between
the wife and her natal family members and the husband and in-laws, the wife’s
side at the initial stage usually insists on effecting the arrests of the
husband and other in-laws. Once the husband or his family members are arrested,
and subsequently bailed out, little motivation remains for the parties to try
and resolve their disputes by mediation. This may prove disadvantageous for the
wife in the long run who may not have a source of independent livelihood for
running her life in the future.

4.Appropriate place where mediation should be conducted.
The officials as well as the learned Government Advocate and other lawyers
present unanimously recommended that the Mediation Cell should not be at the
police station. The I.G. (Public Grievances) pointed out that the police officer
before whom the report is lodged lack proper training for conducting mediations
sessions. Also if the police officer refrains from arresting the accused persons
pursuant to the wife’s FIR, by attempting to mediate in the dispute between the
parties, even if it is a case of no injury, and even where he is only acting in
accordance with the general directions of the Court, questions about his
integrity are unnecessarily raised.

Moreover it is pointed out by the Secretary of the Legal Services Authority that
now Mediation or Conciliation Centres have been established in all the District
Courts. We, therefore, think that the mediation proceedings should be carried
out in the said Mediation Centre.

5.Need for time frame for concluding the mediation proceedings.

The I.G. (Public Grievances) and others present rightly pointed out that a time
frame must be laid down for concluding the mediation proceedings as when an
aggrieved wife approaches the police for relief, because she has been subjected
to cruelty. If the matter is unduly prolonged in the mediation process, the
delay could act as a shield to protect the accused from facing the penalty of
law, causing frustration and bitterness for the aggrieved wife. Notice should as
far as possible be served personally on the accused and the parties should be
directed to appear before the Mediation Centre within a week or 10 days of the
lodging of the report by the aggrieved wife or family members. Thereafter we
think, that as far as possible, the mediation proceedings should be concluded
within two months of the first appearance of both the parties before the
Mediation Centre.

6.Who should be the members of the mediation cell in the district?

The Mediation Cell in the district should be headed by the Secretary of the
Legal Services Authority in the district, (at present, the Civil Judge, Senior
Division has been made the Secretary), other panel or retainer lawyers appointed
by the District Legal Services Authority, other lawyers, who volunteer for
giving free services before the Mediation centre, especially female lawyers
should also be made members of the Mediation Cell. It is also desirable to have
three or four social workers (especially female) in the Cell. A female police
officer of the rank of Dy. S.P. may also be appointed an ex-officio member of
the Mediation Cell.

7.Procedure to be followed by the police when a report of a cognizable offence
under section 498A IPC or allied provisions is reported

The report regarding commission of cognizable offence under section 498A IPC or
other allied sections may be lodged at the concerned police station where the
incident takes place or at the ‘Mahila Thana’ especially created in the district
for investigation of such cases. The police officer concerned will get the
aggrieved woman medically examined for injuries if the same are present. If the
report has been lodged at some police station other than the Mahila Thana, the
injury report and relevant police papers shall be forwarded to the Mahila Thana
for investigation of the case, and in appropriate cases the investigating police
officer at the Mahila Thana may refer the matter to the mediation centre in the
Civil Court, and direct the complainant to be present at the mediation centre on
a fixed date 7 to 10 days thereafter. The accused should as far as possible also
be personally given notice to appear before the mediation centre on the date
fixed. We would also like the presence of trained social workers (especially
female) or legal aid panel lawyers to be present at the Mahila Thana for
counselling the aggrieved woman and her family members for first trying to solve
their dispute by mediation, when the case is registered at the mahila thana. The
notice to the husband and other family members should mention that in cases the
husband or the family members of the aggrieved wife fail to appear on the date
fixed or on future dates, as directed by the Mediation Centre or fail to comply
with any condition that may be imposed by the police officer or Mediation
Centre, steps shall be taken for arresting the accused. The accused husband or
other in-laws should be directed to report before the police officer on a date
two months after the date of first appearance before the Mediation Centre and
inform the Police Officer about the progress in the mediation. The in-charge of
the mediation proceeding may also direct the husband or other family members to
appear before the Police Officer at an earlier date fixed in case mediation has
failed or it has been successfully concluded and the parties concerned shall
appear before the Police Officer on the said date. It would also be open to the
complainant wife to inform the police officer about the progress (or lack of it)
of the mediation process. The notice should also clarify that in case mediation
is pronounced as unsuccessful at an earlier date, and information is given by
either party or the Mediation centre to the Police Officer, he may require the
presence of the accused husband or his relations at an earlier date. If
mediation has been successfully concluded, it will be open to the Police Officer
to submit a final report in the matter. In cases, where it has not been
successfully concluded and the Police Officer is of the view that arrest may not
be necessary in a particular case, he may direct the accused persons to obtain
bail from the Competent Court. In case, he is of the opinion that the arrest is
necessitated at a subsequent stage, it will be open to the Police Officer to
take such accused persons in custody. He should of course record his reason for
making the said arrest as provided under section 41 (1) (b) (ii).

8.Necessity of training to mediators.

We endorse the opinion of the intervening lawyers, the learned Government
Advocate, Sri Ashok Mehta, Organizing Secretary of the Mediation Centre of the
Allahabad High Court and the Government officials present, including the
Secretary of the Legal Services Authority, that training for mediators is a sine
qua non for effective mediation. The Organizing Secretary of the Allahabad High
Court Mediation Centre (AHMC) and Secretary of the U.P. Legal Services Authority
(UPLSA) stated that the centre and authority are prepared to impart training to
the mediators. We welcome this offer and direct that there should be
co-ordianation between the AHMC and UPLSA for giving effect to this offer. By
and by as the State Government is able to create a cadre of trainers for
mediation, their services may also be utilised for training mediators in the
districts.

We think training is necessary because the responses to our queries from the
subordinate district courts reveal the poor success rate in the cases referred
by the High Court or where the concerned subordinate court has itself initiated
the process of mediation. By contrast the success rate at the Mediation Centre
in the Allahabad High Court, which has independent trained mediators (usually
lawyers) is much higher. The first requirement for successful mediation is the
patience on the part of the mediator, and his willingness to give sufficient
time to the contesting parties and especially to the wife to express her bottled
up grievances. Thereafter, in a disinterested manner, the mediator should
encourage the parties to come up with solutions, giving useful suggestions for
bringing about reconciliation, as the mediator cannot impose his solution on the
parties.
The guidelines hereinabove have been spelt out by the Court because of the
specific request of the officials and lawyers present to spell out the terms of
the same, as guidance for the State government (esp. the home department), the
Legal Services Authority and the police for issuing appropriate circulars or
government orders.

(9) Should offences under section 498-A IPC be made compoundable?

We have received considerable feedback from subordinate judicial authorities
that unless the offence under section 498-A IPC is made compoundable, much
benefit cannot be derived by trying to bring about mediation between the
parties. A dilemma then arises before the concerned Court, (which cannot close
the trial because the spouses have compromised their dispute) or even before the
aggrieved wife, if she decides to settle her dispute with her spouse and in-laws
either by agreeing to stay with them or to part amicably, usually after
receiving some compensation. Even if she is no more interested in repeatedly
visiting the court for prosecuting the accused, in the absence of provisions for
compounding the offence, she has willy nilly to perjure by making a false
statement that her initial report was untrue or lodged under influence of X or
Y. If on the basis of this statement the trial Court acquits the husband and his
family members, and the aggrieved wife returns to her matrimonial home, in the
cases where she is again maltreated, if she lodges a fresh report, its
reliability will be open to question.

The Apex Court in Ramgopal v. State of M.P., 2010 SCALE 711 observed that an
offence under section 498-A IPC is essentially private in nature, and it should
be made compoundable if the parties are willing to amicably settle their
dispute. Directions were given to the Law Commission of India to consider the
matter and to make appropriate recommendations to the Government to bring about
suitable amendments in the statute.

In Rajeev Verma v. State of U.P., 2004 Cri.L.J. 2956, which was a decision given
by a bench in which one of us (Amar Saran J) was a member, a similar suggestion
was made to the Law Commission of U.P. to recommend to the State government to
make the offence under section 498-A IPC compoundable with the permission of the
Court under section 320 Cr.P.C. The reasons for the suggestion were that such
FIRs are often lodged in the heat of the moment, without reflection after a
sudden quarrel, and sometimes as a result of wrong advice or influences. But the
complaining wife, who usually has no source of independent livelihood (as a key
problem in our society is the lack of economic and social empowerment of women)
and is unable to provide for herself in the future, may have to suffer later if
the relationship with her husband is irrevocably ruptured due to the hasty
filing of the criminal case, particularly in view of the fact that the offence
is non-compoundable. To meet this situation B.S. Joshi v State of Haryana, AIR
2003 SC 1386, Manoj Sharma v State, 2008 SC(Suppl) 1171, and Madan Mohan Abbot v
State of Punjab, AIR 2008 SC 1969 recommended quashing of the complaint in
proceedings under section 482 Cr.P.C or in the writ jurisdiction where the
aggrieved wife compounded the offence. In the latter case it was observed that
where the dispute is purely personal in nature, (i.e. the element of the offence
being a crime against society is secondary), and the wife decides to compound
the offence, as there would be little likelihood of conviction, quashing of the
offence should not be refused on the hyper-technical view that the offence was
non-compoundable “as keeping the matter alive with no possibility of a result in
favour of the prosecution is a luxury which the Courts, grossly overburdened as
they are, cannot afford and that the time so saved can be utilized in deciding
more effective and meaningful litigation”

The following passage in paragraph 12 in G.V. Rao v L.H.V. Prasad, AIR 2000 SC
2474 has been cited with approval in B.S. Joshi:
“There has been an outburst of matrimonial disputes in recent times. The
marriage is a sacred ceremony, the main purpose of which is to enable the young
couple to settle down in life and live peacefully. But little matrimonial
skirmishes suddenly erupt which often assume serious proportions resulting in
commission of heinous crimes in which elders of the family are also involved
with the result that those who could have counselled and brought about
rapprochement are rendered helpless on their being arrayed as accused in the
criminal case. There are many other reasons which need not be mentioned here for
not encouraging matrimonial litigation so that the parties may ponder over their
defaults and terminate their disputes amicably by mutual agreement instead of
fighting it out in a Court of law where it takes years and years to conclude and
in that process the parties lose their “young” days in chasing their “cases” in
different Courts.”

In Rajeev Verma however relying on B.S. Joshi it was mentioned that whilst the
trial could be quashed in an application under section 482 Cr.P.C or under
Article 226, being a fruitless prosecution where there was little likelihood of
conviction as the parties had settled their dispute, but the proper forum for
deciding the matter whether the compromise application was voluntary and bona
fide or whether it was coerced was the lower court which could decide whether it
was a fit case for granting permission to the wife to compound the offence under
section 320(2) Cr.P.C. This was only possible if the offence under s. 498-A IPC
was made compoundable with the permission of the Court.

A good option for providing recompense to the maltreated woman is “The
Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005″ which provides for a gamut
of civil rights for the aggrieved woman who has entered into a domestic
relationship with a man, with or without marriage. Such civil rights include
“Protection orders” (section 18) prohibiting the respondent from committing any
act of violence, visiting the place of work, operating the common bank locker,
making telephonic contact etc. “Residence orders” (section 19), which restrain
the respondent from dispossessing a woman from the shared household, or from
alienating or renouncing his rights to the property or by directing him to
remove himself, or by providing alternate accommodation to the aggrieved woman
at the existing level. By providing “monetary reliefs” (sections 20 and 22) by
paying for loss of earnings or medical expenses, or loss due to destruction of
property by domestic violence, or for maintenance of the woman and her dependent
children, or by payment of compensation for causing injuries (including mental
torture). “Custody orders” (section 21) for custody of the child to the woman
(including visiting rights) for the respondent. Criminal proceedings under this
Act have been allowed only as a last resort, under section 31 when the
respondent commits a breach of a protection order, or where at the stage of
framing charges for breach of the protection order he finds that an offence
under section 498-A IPC has also been committed by the respondent.

The Act also provides under section 14 for the Magistrate to send a matter for
“counselling” before a registered “service provider,” who is qualified to
provide counselling in such matters to the contesting parties or to provide
shelter etc. to the aggrieved woman.

In the counter-affidavit dated 12.8.11 filed on behalf of the Home Secretary,
U.P., it has specifically been mentioned that the State government has given its
consent to the Union of India to make offences under section 498-A IPC
compoundable, and the letter of the Home (Police) Section-9 to the Union Home
Ministry dated 4.2.10 has been annexed. Whereas we appreciate this positive
attitude of the State government in not objecting to section 498-A IPC being
made a compoundable offence. However we find that Andhra Pradesh, by Act 11 of
2003 (w.e.f 1.8.03) has added section 498 A (wrongly described as 494 A) after
section 494 in the table in section 320(2) Cr.P.C. and has permitted the woman
subjected to cruelty to compound the offence with the permission of the Court,
but added a proviso that a minimum period of three months be allowed to elapse
from the date of application for compromise before a Court can accept the
request, provided any of the parties do not withdraw in the intervening period.

The U.P. government may consider bringing out a similar amendment, as it has
already expressed its opinion that the offence under section 498-A IPC be made
compoundable.

Before parting we must clarify that the Court is of the firm view that acts of
cruelty or violence against women have neither ceased, nor have they been
reduced, and the special provision for meeting this problem must be retained in
the statute book. We quote with approval the view expressed in paragraph 11 of
the recent Law Commission of India, Consultation Paper-cum-Questionaire
regarding section 498-A of Indian Penal Code:

“While the Commission is appreciative of the need to discourage unjustified and
frivolous complaints and the scourge of over-implication, it is not inclined to
take a view that dilutes the efficacy of s. 498-A to the extent of defeating its
purpose especially having regard to the fact that atrocities against women are
on the increase. A balanced and holistic view has to be taken on weighing the
pros and cons. There is no doubt a need to address the misuse situations and
arrive at a rational solution ? legislative or otherwise.”

List this case on 8.11.2011 before the regular bench to be headed by one of us
(Hon’ble Amar Saran J)

The State government through the Chief Secretary, U.P., the Principal Secretary,
(Home), U.P., Secretary Law/ L.R. U.P., Director General Police U.P., and
Member-Secretary, U.P. Legal Services Authority may issue appropriate guidelines
or circulars for laying down a system for proceeding in matters where reports
are lodged of commission of offences under section 498 A IPC where immediate
arrests may not be necessary, for laying down the appropriate criteria in this
regard, and for sending the matters for mediation before the mediation cells in
the Civil Courts, in accordance with the aforesaid directions of this Court. The
Principal Secretary, (Finance), U.P. may apprise the Court as to the provision
for finance for appointing social workers/panel lawyers at the Mahila Thanas,
for ensuring that appropriate training is given to the social workers, legal aid
lawyers, and concerned police officers for facilitating the mediation process,
for making available adequate infrastructure/ manpower at the mediation cells in
the Civil Courts, and for meeting expenses on other contingencies. Let the
aforesaid authorities submit their compliance reports within 4 weeks. We would
also like reports from all the Secretaries of the District Legal Services
Authorities to submit their compliance reports (through the District Judges) for
getting the aforementioned minor matters relating to offences under section 498
A IPC settled through mediation and the difficulties they encounter or forsee in
complying with the directions of this Court by the next listing. The State
government is also directed to submit its report on the next listing on the
suggestion of the Court to take steps for making the offence under section 498-A
IPC compoundable with the permission of Court by amending section 320 Cr.P.C in
U.P. as has been done in the case of Andhra Pradesh. Registrar-General is
directed to forward copies of this order within a week to the Chief Secretary,
Principal Secretary, (Home), Law Secretary/LR, U.P., Principal Secretary
(Finance), U.P., D.G.P., U.P., Member-Secretary, U.P., Legal Services Authority,
U.P., Secretaries/ Civil Judges (Senior Division) through District Judges in all
districts in U.P., Sri Ashok Mehta, Organizing Secretary, Allahabad High Court,
Mediation Centre, Sri Pankaj Naqvi, and Sister Sheeba Jose, Advocates for the
intervenors, Government Advocate, U.P. and other advocates and officials present
in the hearing on 8.8.11 for information and compliance.

Order Date :- 30.9.2011

“However, we deem it appropriate to add by way of caution that we may not be misunderstood so as to infer that even if there are allegation of overt act indicating the complicity of the members of the family named in the FIR in a given case, cognizance would be unjustified but what we wish to emphasize by highlighting is that, if the FIR as it stands does not disclose specific allegation against accused more so against the co-accused specially in a matter arising out of matrimonial bickering, it would be clear abuse of the legal and judicial process to mechanically send the named accused in the FIR to undergo the trial unless of course the FIR discloses specific allegations which would persuade the court to take cognisance of the offence alleged against the relatives of the main accused who are prima facie not found to have indulged in physical and mental torture of the complainant-wife. It is the well settled principle laid down in cases too numerous to mention, that if the FIR did not disclose the commission of an offence, the court would be justified in quashing the proceedings preventing the abuse of the process of law. Simultaneously, the courts are expected to adopt a cautious approach in matters of quashing specially in cases of matrimonial dispute whether the FIR in fact discloses commission of an offence by the relatives of the principal accused or the FIR prima facie discloses a case of over-implication by involving the entire family of the accused at the instance of the complainant, who is out to settle her scores arising out of the teething problem or skirmish of domestic bickering while settling down in her new matrimonial surrounding.”

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 1674 OF 2012

(Arising out of SLP (Crl.) No. 10547/2010)

Geeta Mehrotra & Anr. ..Appellants

Versus

State of U.P. & Anr. . Respondents

J U D G M E N T

GYAN SUDHA MISRA, J.

1. This appeal by special leave in which we granted leave has been filed by the appellants against the order dated 6.9.2010 passed by the High Court of Judicature at Allahabad in Crl. Miscellaneous Application No.22714/2007 whereby the High Court had been pleased to dispose of the application moved by the appellants under Section 482 Cr.P.C. for quashing the order of the Magistrate taking cognizance against the appellants under Sections 498A/323/504/506 IPC read with Section 3/4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act with an observation that the question of territorial jurisdiction cannot be properly decided by the High Court under Section 482 Cr.P.C. for want of adequate facts. It was, therefore, left open to the appellants to move the trial court for dropping the proceedings on the ground of lack of territorial jurisdiction. The High Court however granted interim protection to the appellants by directing the authorities not to issue coercive process against the appellants until disposal of the application filed by the appellants with a further direction to the trial court to dispose of the application if moved by the appellants, within a period of two months from the date of moving the application. The application under Section 482 Cr.P.C. was thus disposed of by the High Court.

2. The appellants in spite of the liberty granted to them to move the trial court, have filed this appeal for quashing the proceedings which had been initiated on the basis of a case lodged by the respondent No.2 Smt. Shipra Mehrotra (earlier known as Shipra Seth) against her husband, father-in-law, mother-in-law, brother-in-law and sister-in-law. This appeal has been preferred by the sister-in- law, who is appellant No.1 and brother-in-law of the complainant, who is appellant No.2.

3. The case emerges out of the first information report lodged by respondent No.2 Smt. Shipra Mehrotra under Sections 498A/323/504/506 IPC read with Section 3/4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act bearing F.I.R.No. 52/2004. The F.I.R. was registered at Mahila Thana Daraganj, Allahabad wherein the complainant alleged that she was married to Shyamji Mehrotra s/o Balbir Saran who was living at Eros Garden, Charmswood Village, Faridabad, Suraj Kund Road at Faridabad Haryana as per the Hindu marriage rites and customs. Prior to marriage the complainant and her family members were told by Shyamji Mehrotra and his elder brother Ramji Mehrotra who is appellant No.2 herein and their mother Smt. Kamla Mehrotra and her sister Geeta Mehrotra who is appellant No.1 herein that Shyamji is employed as a Team Leader in a top I.T. Company in Chennai and is getting salary of Rs.45,000/- per month. After negotiation between the parents of the complainant and the accused parties, the marriage of the complainant Shipra Seth (later Shipra Mehrotra) and Shyamji Mehrotra was performed after which the respondent-complainant left for the house of her in- laws.

4. It was stated that the atmosphere in the house was peaceful for sometime but soon after the wedding, when all the relatives left, the maid who cooked meals was first of all paid-off by the aforesaid four persons who then told the complainant that from now onwards, the complainant will have to prepare food for the family. In addition, the above mentioned people started taunting and scolding her on trivial issues. The complainant also came to know that Shyamji was not employed anywhere and always stayed in the house. Shyamji gradually took away all the money which the complainant had with her and then told her that her father had not given dowry properly, therefore, she should get Rupees five lakhs from her father in order to enable him to start business, because he was not getting any job. When the complainant clearly declined and stated that she will not ask her parents for money, Shyamji, on instigation of other accused-family members, started beating her occasionally. To escape every day torture and financial status of the family, the complainant took up a job in a Call Centre at Convergys on 17.2.2003 where the complainant had to do night shifts due to which she used to come back home at around 3 a.m. in the morning. Just on her return from work, the household people started playing bhajan cassettes after which she had to getup at 7’o clock in the morning to prepare and serve food to all the members in the family. Often on falling asleep in the morning, Shyamji, Kamla Devi and Geeta Mehrotra tortured the complainant every day mentally and physically. Ramji Mehrotra often provoked the other three family members to torture and often used to make the complainant feel sad by making inappropriate statements about the complainant and her parents. Her husband Shyamji also took away the salary from the complainant.

5. After persistent efforts, Shyamji finally got a job in Chennai and he went to Chennai for the job in May, 2003. But, it is alleged that there was no change in his behaviour even after going to Chennai. The complainant often called him on phone to talk to him but he always did irrelevant conversation. He never spoke properly with the complainant whenever he visited home and often used to hurl filthy abuses. The complainant states that she often wept and tolerated the tortures of the accused persons for a long time but did not complain to her family members, as that would have made them feel sad. At last, when the complainant realized that even her life was in danger, she was compelled to tell everything to her father on phone who was very upset on hearing her woes. On 15.7.2003 complainant heard some conversation of her mother-in-law and sister-in-law from which it appeared to her that they want to kill the complainant in the night only. Thereupon the complainant apprised her father of the situation on phone to which her father replied that he will call back her father-in-law and she should go with him immediately and he will come in the morning. The father-in-law Satish Dhawan and his wife who were living in NOIDA thereafter came in the night and somehow took the complainant to their home who also came to know of everything. The complainant’s father and brother later went to her matrimonial home on 16.7.2003. On seeing her father and brother, Kamla Mehrotra and Geeta Mehrotra started speaking loudly and started saying that Shyamji would be coming by the evening and so he should come in the evening for talking to them. Her father and brother then went away from there. That very day, her husband Shyamji and brother-in-law Ramji also reached home. On reaching there, Shyamji abused her on phone and told her to send her father.

6. When father and brother of the complainant went home in the evening, they were also insulted by all the four and video camera and tape were played and in the end they were told that they should leave from here. Insulted, they came back from there and then came back to Allahabad with the complainant. For many days the complainant and her family members hoped that the situation would improve if the matter was resolved. Many times other people tried to persuade the in – laws but to no avail. Her brother went to their house to talk to her in – laws but it came to his knowledge that the in – laws had changed their house. After much effort, they came to know that the father-in- law and mother-in-law started living at B-39, Brahma cooperative group housing society, block 7, sector-7, Dwarka, Delhi. On 19.09.04 evening, her father talked to Kamla Mehrotra and Geeta Mehrotra regarding the complainant using bad words and it was said that if her daughter came there she will be kicked out. After some time Shyamji rang up at complainant’s home but on hearing the complainant’s voice, he told her abusively that now she should not come his way and she should tell her father not to phone him in future. At approximately 10:30 pm in the night Ramji’s phone came to the complainant’s home. He used bad words while talking to her father and in the end said that he had got papers prepared in his defence and he may do whatever he could but if he could afford to give Rs.10 lakhs then it should be conveyed after which he will reconsider the matter. If the girl was sent to his place without money, then even her dead body will not be found.

7. On hearing these talks of the accused, the complainant believed that her in-laws will not let the complainant enter their home without taking ten lakhs and if the complainant went there on her own, she will not be safe. Hence, she lodged the report wherein she prayed that the SHO Daraganj should be ordered to do the needful after registering the case against the accused Shyam Mehrotra, Ramji Mehrotra, Kamla Mehrotra and Geeta Mehrotra. Thus, in substance, the complainant related the bickering at her matrimonial home which made her life miserable in several ways and compelled her to leave her in- law’s place in order to live with her father where she lodged a police case as stated hereinbefore.

8. On the basis of the complaint, the investigating authorities at P.S. Daraganj, Allahabad started investigation of the case and thereafter the police submitted chargesheet against the appellants and other family members of the complainant’s husband.

9. Hence, the appellants who are sister and brother of the complainant’s husband filed petition under Section 482 Cr.P.C. for quashing of the chargesheet and the entire proceedings pending in the court of learned Judicial Magistrate, Court No.IV, Allahabad, inter- alia, on the ground that FIR has been lodged with mala fide intentions to harass the appellants and that no case was made out against the appellants as well as other family members. But the principal ground of challenge to the FIR was that the incident although was alleged to have taken place at Faridabad and the investigation should have been done there only, the complainant with mala fide intention in connivance with the father of the complainant, got the investigating officer to record the statements by visiting Ghaziabad which was beyond his territorial jurisdiction and cannot be construed as legal and proper investigation. It was also alleged that the father of the complainant got the arrest warrant issued through George Town Police Station, Allahabad, in spite of the cause of action having arisen at Allahabad.

10. This appeal has been preferred by Kumari Geeta Mehrotra i.e. the sister of the complainant’s husband and Ramji Mehrotra i.e. the elder brother of the complainant’s husband assailing the order of the High Court and it was submitted that the Hon’ble High Court ought to have appreciated that the complainant who had already obtained an ex-parte decree of divorce, is pursuing the present case through her father with the sole purpose to unnecessarily harass the appellants to extract money from them as all efforts of mediation had failed.

11. However, the grounds of challenge before this Court to the order of the High Court, inter alia is that the High Court had failed to appreciate that the investigation had been done by the authority without following due process of law which also lacked territorial jurisdiction. The relevant documents/parcha diary for deciding the territorial jurisdiction had been overlooked as the FIR has been lodged at Allahabad although the cause of action of the entire incident is alleged to have taken place at Faridabad (Haryana). It was, therefore, submitted that the investigating authorities of the Allahabad have traversed beyond the territorial limits which is clearly an abuse of the process of law and the High Court has failed to exercise its inherent powers under Section 482 Cr.P.C. in the facts and circumstances of this case and allowed the proceedings to go on before the trial court although it had no jurisdiction to adjudicate the same.

12. It was further averred that the High Court had failed to examine the facts of the FIR to see whether the facts stated in the FIR constitute any prima facie case making out an offence against the sister-in-law and brother-in-law of the complainant and whether there was at all any material to constitute an offence against the appellants and their family members. Attention of this Court was further invited to the contradictions in the statement of the complainant and her father which indicate material contradictions indicating that the complainant and her father have concocted the story to implicate the appellants as well as all their family members in a criminal case merely with a mala fide intention to settle her scores and extract money from the family of her ex-husband Shyamji Mehrotra and his family members.

13. On a perusal of the complaint and other materials on record as also analysis of the arguments advanced by the contesting parties in the light of the settled principles of law reflected in a catena of decisions, it is apparent that the High Court has not applied its mind on the question as to whether the case was fit to be quashed against the appellants and has merely disposed of the petition granting liberty to the appellants to move the trial court and raise contentions on the ground as to whether it has territorial jurisdiction to continue with the trial in the light of the averment that no part of the cause of action had arisen at Allahabad and the entire incident even as per the FIR had taken place at Faridabad.

14. The High Court further overlooked the fact that during the pendency of this case, the complainant-respondent No.2 has obtained an ex-parte decree of divorce against her husband Shyamji Mehrotra and the High Court failed to apply its mind whether any case could be held to have been made out against Kumari Geeta Mehrotra and Ramji Mehrotra, who are the unmarried sister and elder brother of the complainant’s ex-husband. Facts of the FIR even as it stands indicate that although a prima facie case against the husband Shyamji Mehrotra and some other accused persons may or may not be constituted, it surely appears to be a case where no ingredients making out a case against the unmarried sister of the accused Shyamji Mehrotra and his brother Ramji Mehrotra appear to be existing for even when the complainant came to her in-law’s house after her wedding, she has alleged physical and mental torture by stating in general that she had been ordered to do household activities of cooking meals for the whole family. But there appears to be no specific allegation against the sister and brother of the complainant’s husband as to how they could be implicated into the mutual bickering between the complainant and her husband Shyamji Mehrotra including his parents.

15. Under the facts and circumstance of similar nature in the case of Ramesh vs. State of Tamil Nadu reported in (2005) SCC (Crl.) 735 at 738 allegations were made in a complaint against the husband, the in-laws, husband’s brother and sister who were all the petitioners before the High Court wherein after registration of the F.I.R. and investigation, the charge sheet was filed by the Inspector of Police in the court of Judicial Magistrate III, Trichy. Thereupon, the learned magistrate took cognizance of the offence and issued warrants against the appellants on 13.2.2002. Four of the accused-appellants were arrested and released on bail by the magistrate at Mumbai. The appellants had filed petition under Section 482, Cr.P.C. before the Madras High Court for quashing the proceedings in complaint case on the file of the Judicial Magistrate III, Trichy. The High Court by the impugned order dismissed the petition observing that the grounds raised by the petitioners were all subject matters to be heard by the trial court for better appreciation after conducting full trial as the High Court was of the view that it was only desirable to dismiss the criminal original petition and the same was also dismissed. However, the High Court had directed the Magistrate to dispense with the personal attendance of the appellants.

16. Aggrieved by the order of the Madras High Court dismissing the petition under Section 482 Cr.P.C., the special leave petition was filed in this Court giving rise to the appeals therein where threefold contentions were raised viz., (i) that the allegations are frivolous and without any basis; (ii) even according to the FIR, no incriminating acts were done within the jurisdiction of Trichy Police Station and the court at Trichy and, therefore, the learned magistrate lacked territorial jurisdiction to take cognizance of the offence and (iii) taking cognizance of the alleged offence at that stage was barred under Section 468(1) Cr.P.C. as it was beyond the period of limitation prescribed under Section 468(2) Cr.P.C. Apart from the subsequent two contentions, it was urged that the allegations under the FIR do not make out any offence of which cognizance could be taken.

17. Their Lordships of the Supreme Court in this matter had been pleased to hold that the bald allegations made against the sister in law by the complainant appeared to suggest the anxiety of the informant to rope in as many of the husband’s relatives as possible. It was held that neither the FIR nor the charge sheet furnished the legal basis for the magistrate to take cognizance of the offences alleged against the appellants. The learned Judges were pleased to hold that looking to the allegations in the FIR and the contents of the charge sheet, none of the alleged offences under Section 498 A, 406 and Section 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act were made against the married sister of the complainant’s husband who was undisputedly not living with the family of the complainant’s husband. Their Lordships of the Supreme Court were pleased to hold that the High Court ought not to have relegated the sister in law to the ordeal of trial. Accordingly, the proceedings against the appellants were quashed and the appeal was allowed.

18. In so far as the plea of territorial jurisdiction is concerned, it is no doubt true that the High Court was correct to the extent that the question of territorial jurisdiction could be decided by the trial court itself. But this ground was just one of the grounds to quash the proceedings initiated against the appellants under Section 482 Cr.P.C. wherein it was also alleged that no prima facie case was made out against the appellants for initiating the proceedings under the Dowry Prohibition Act and other provisions of the IPC. The High Court has failed to exercise its jurisdiction in so far as the consideration of the case of the appellants are concerned, who are only brother and sister of the complainant’s husband and are not alleged even by the complainant to have demanded dowry from her. The High Court, therefore, ought to have considered that even if the trial court at Allahabad had the jurisdiction to hold the trial, the question still remained as to whether the trial against the brother and sister of the husband was fit to be continued and whether that would amount to abuse of the process of the court.

19. Coming to the facts of this case, when the contents of the FIR is perused, it is apparent that there are no allegations against Kumari Geeta Mehrotra and Ramji Mehrotra except casual reference of their names who have been included in the FIR but mere casual reference of the names of the family members in a matrimonial dispute without allegation of active involvement in the matter would not justify taking cognizance against them overlooking the fact borne out of experience that there is a tendency to involve the entire family members of the household in the domestic quarrel taking place in a matrimonial dispute specially if it happens soon after the wedding.

20. It would be relevant at this stage to take note of an apt observation of this Court recorded in the matter of G.V. Rao vs. L.H.V. Prasad & Ors. reported in (2000) 3 SCC 693 wherein also in a matrimonial dispute, this Court had held that the High Court should have quashed the complaint arising out of a matrimonial dispute wherein all family members had been roped into the matrimonial litigation which was quashed and set aside. Their Lordships observed therein with which we entirely agree that:

“there has been an outburst of matrimonial dispute in recent times. Marriage is a sacred ceremony, main purpose of which is to enable the young couple to settle down in life and live peacefully. But little matrimonial skirmishes suddenly erupt which often assume serious proportions resulting in heinous crimes in which elders of the family are also involved with the result that those who could have counselled and brought about rapprochement are rendered helpless on their being arrayed as accused in the criminal case. There are many reasons which need not be mentioned here for not encouraging matrimonial litigation so that the parties may ponder over their defaults and terminate the disputes amicably by mutual agreement instead of fighting it out in a court of law where it takes years and years to conclude and in that process the parties lose their “young” days in chasing their cases in different courts.”

The view taken by the judges in this matter was that the courts would not encourage such disputes.

21. In yet another case reported in AIR 2003 SC 1386 in the matter of B.S. Joshi & Ors. vs. State of Haryana & Anr. it was observed that there is no doubt that the object of introducing Chapter XXA containing Section 498A in the Indian Penal Code was to prevent the torture to a woman by her husband or by relatives of her husband. Section 498A was added with a view to punish the husband and his relatives who harass or torture the wife to coerce her relatives to satisfy unlawful demands of dowry. But if the proceedings are initiated by the wife under Section 498A against the husband and his relatives and subsequently she has settled her disputes with her husband and his relatives and the wife and husband agreed for mutual divorce, refusal to exercise inherent powers by the High Court would not be proper as it would prevent woman from settling earlier. Thus for the purpose of securing the ends of justice quashing of FIR becomes necessary, Section 320 Cr.P.C. would not be a bar to the exercise of power of quashing. It would however be a different matter depending upon the facts and circumstances of each case whether to exercise or not to exercise such a power.

22. In the instant matter, when the complainant and her husband are divorced as the complainant-wife secured an ex-parte decree of divorce, the same could have weighed with the High Court to consider whether proceeding initiated prior to the divorce decree was fit to be pursued in spite of absence of specific allegations at least against the brother and sister of the complainant’s husband and whether continuing with this proceeding could not have amounted to abuse of the process of the court. The High Court, however, seems not to have examined these aspects carefully and have thus side- tracked all these considerations merely on the ground that the territorial jurisdiction could be raised only before the magistrate conducting the trial.

23. In the instant case, the question of territorial jurisdiction was just one of the grounds for quashing the proceedings along with the other grounds and, therefore, the High Court should have examined whether the prosecution case was fit to be quashed on other grounds or not. At this stage, the question also crops up whether the matter is fit to be remanded to the High Court to consider all these aspects. But in matters arising out of a criminal case, fresh consideration by remanding the same would further result into a protracted and vexatious proceeding which is unwarranted as was held by this Court in the case of Ramesh vs. State of Tamil Nadu (supra) that such a course of remand would be unnecessary and inexpedient as there was no need to prolong the controversy. The facts in this matter on this aspect was although somewhat different since the complainant had lodged the complaint after seven years of delay, yet in the instant matter the factual position remains that the complaint as it stands lacks ingredients constituting the offence under Section 498A and Section 3/4 Dowry Prohibition Act against the appellants who are sister and brother of the complainant’s husband and their involvement in the whole incident appears only by way of a casual inclusion of their names. Hence, it cannot be overlooked that it would be total abuse of the process of law if we were to remand the matter to the High Court to consider whether there were still any material to hold that the trial should proceed against them in spite of absence of prima facie material constituting the offence alleged against them.

24. However, we deem it appropriate to add by way of caution that we may not be misunderstood so as to infer that even if there are allegation of overt act indicating the complicity of the members of the family named in the FIR in a given case, cognizance would be unjustified but what we wish to emphasize by highlighting is that, if the FIR as it stands does not disclose specific allegation against accused more so against the co-accused specially in a matter arising out of matrimonial bickering, it would be clear abuse of the legal and judicial process to mechanically send the named accused in the FIR to undergo the trial unless of course the FIR discloses specific allegations which would persuade the court to take cognisance of the offence alleged against the relatives of the main accused who are prima facie not found to have indulged in physical and mental torture of the complainant-wife. It is the well settled principle laid down in cases too numerous to mention, that if the FIR did not disclose the commission of an offence, the court would be justified in quashing the proceedings preventing the abuse of the process of law. Simultaneously, the courts are expected to adopt a cautious approach in matters of quashing specially in cases of matrimonial dispute whether the FIR in fact discloses commission of an offence by the relatives of the principal accused or the FIR prima facie discloses a case of over-implication by involving the entire family of the accused at the instance of the complainant, who is out to settle her scores arising out of the teething problem or skirmish of domestic bickering while settling down in her new matrimonial surrounding.

25. In the case at hand, when the brother and unmarried sister of the principal accused Shyamji Mehrotra approached the High Court for quashing the proceedings against them, inter-alia, on the ground of lack of territorial jurisdiction as also on the ground that no case was made out against them under Sections 498A,/323/504/506 including Sections 3/4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, it was the legal duty of the High Court to examine whether there were prima facie material against the appellants so that they could be directed to undergo the trial, besides the question of territorial jurisdiction. The High Court seems to have overlooked all the pleas that were raised and rejected the petition on the solitary ground of territorial jurisdiction giving liberty to the appellants to approach the trial court.

26. The High Court in our considered opinion appear to have missed that assuming the trial court had territorial jurisdiction, it was still left to be decided whether it was a fit case to send the appellants for trial when the FIR failed to make out a prima facie case against them regarding the allegation of inflicting physical and mental torture to the complainant demanding dowry from the complainant. Since the High Court has failed to consider all these aspects, this Court as already stated hereinbefore, could have remitted the matter to the High Court to consider whether a case was made out against the appellants to proceed against them. But as the contents of the FIR does not disclose specific allegation against the brother and sister of the complainant’s husband except casual reference of their names, it would not be just to direct them to go through protracted procedure by remanding for consideration of the matter all over again by the High Court and make the unmarried sister of the main accused and his elder brother to suffer the ordeal of a criminal case pending against them specially when the FIR does not disclose ingredients of offence under Sections 498A/323/504/506, IPC and Sections 3/4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act.

27. We, therefore, deem it just and legally appropriate to quash the proceedings initiated against the appellants Geeta Mehrotra and Ramji Mehrotra as the FIR does not disclose any material which could be held to be constituting any offence against these two appellants. Merely by making a general allegation that they were also involved in physical and mental torture of the complainant-respondent No.2 without mentioning even a single incident against them as also the fact as to how they could be motivated to demand dowry when they are only related as brother and sister of the complainant’s husband, we are pleased to quash and set aside the criminal proceedings in so far as these appellants are concerned and consequently the order passed by the High Court shall stand overruled. The appeal accordingly is allowed.

……………………………J

(T.S. Thakur)

……………………………J

(Gyan Sudha Misra)

New Delhi,

October 17, 2012

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Supreme Court of India

Joginder Kumar vs State Of U.P on 25 April, 1994

Equivalent citations: 1994 AIR 1349, 1994 SCC (4) 260

Bench: Venkatachalliah, M.N.

PETITIONER:

JOGINDER KUMAR

Vs.

RESPONDENT:

STATE OF U.P.

DATE OF JUDGMENT25/04/1994

BENCH:

VENKATACHALLIAH, M.N.(CJ)

BENCH:

VENKATACHALLIAH, M.N.(CJ)

MOHAN, S. (J)

ANAND, A.S. (J)

CITATION:

1994 AIR 1349 1994 SCC (4) 260

JT 1994 (3) 423 1994 SCALE (2)662

ACT:

HEADNOTE:

JUDGMENT:

ORDER

1. This is a petition under Article 32 of the Constitution of India. The petitioner is a young man of 28 years of age who has completed his LL.B. and has enrolled himself as an advocate. The Senior Superintendent of Police, Ghaziabad, Respondent 4 called the petitioner in his office for making enquiries in some case. The petitioner on 7-1-1994 at about 10 o’clock appeared personally along with his brothers Shri Mangeram Choudhary, Nahar Singh Yadav, Harinder Singh Tewatia, Amar Singh and others before Respondent 4. Respondent 4 kept the petitioner in his custody. When the brother of the petitioner made enquiries about the petitioner, lie was told that the petitioner will be set free in the evening after making some enquiries in connection with a case.

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2. On 7-1-1994 at about 12.55 p.m., the brother of the petitioner being apprehensive of the intentions of Respondent 4, sent a telegram to the Chief Minister of U.P. apprehending his brother’s implication in some criminal case and also further apprehending the petitioner being shot dead in fake encounter.

3. In spite of the frequent enquiries, the whereabouts of the petitioner could not be located. On the evening of 7-1- 1994, it came to be known that petitioner is detained in illegal custody of 5th respondent, SHO, P.S. Mussoorie.

4. On 8-1-1994, it was informed that the 5th respondent was keeping the petitioner in detention to make further enquiries in some case. So far the petitioner has not been produced before the Magistrate concerned. Instead the 5th respondent directed the relatives of the petitioner to approach the 4th respondent SSP, Ghaziabad, for release of the petitioner.

5. On 9-1-1994, in the evening when the brother of petitioner along with relatives went to P.S. Mussoorie to enquire about the well-being of his brother, it was found that the petitioner had been taken to some undisclosed destination. Under these circumstances, the present petition has been preferred for the release of Joginder Kumar, the petitioner herein.

6. This Court on 11-1-1994 ordered notice to State of U.P. as well as SSP, Ghaziabad.

7. The said Senior Superintendent of Police along with petitioner appeared before this Court on 14-1-1994. According to him, the petitioner has been released. To question as to why the petitioner was detained for a period of five days, he would submit that the petitioner was not in detention at all. His help was taken for detecting some cases relating to abduction and the petitioner was helpful in cooperating with the police. Therefore, there is no question of detaining him. Though, as on today the relief in habeas corpus petition cannot be granted yet this Court cannot put an end to the writ petition on this score. Where was the need to detain the petitioner for five days; if really the petitioner was not in detention, why was not this Court informed are some questions which remain unanswered. If really, there was a detention for five days, for what reason was he detained? These matters require to be enquired into. Therefore, we direct the learned District Judge, Ghaziabad to make a detailed enquiry and submit his report within four weeks from the date of receipt of this order.

8. The horizon of human rights is expanding. At the same time, the crime rate is also increasing. Of late, this Court has been receiving complaints about violation of human rights because of indiscriminate arrests. How are we to strike a balance between the two?

9. A realistic approach should be made in this direction. The law of arrest is one of balancing individual rights, liberties and privileges, on the one hand, and individual duties, obligations and responsibilities on the other; of weighing and balancing the rights, liberties and privileges of the single individual and those of individuals collectively; of simply deciding what is 264

wanted and where to put the weight and the emphasis; of deciding which comes first the criminal or society, the law violator or the law abider; of meeting the challenge which Mr Justice Cardozo so forthrightly met when he wrestled with a similar task of balancing individual rights against society’s rights and wisely held that the exclusion rule was bad law, that society came first, and that the criminal should not go free because the constable blundered. In People v. Defore1 Justice Cardozo observed: “The question is whether protection for the individual would not be gained at a disproportionate loss of protection for society. On the one side is the social need that crime shall be repressed. On the other, the social need that law shall not be flouted by the insolence of office. There are dangers in any choice. The rule of the Aclams case (People v. Adams2) strikes a balance between opposing interests. We must hold it to be the law until those organs of government by which a change of public policy is normally effected shall give notice to the courts that change has come to pass.”

10. To the same effect is the statement by Judge Learned Hand, in Fried Re3:

“The protection of the individual from oppression and abuse by the police and other enforcing officers is indeed a major interest in a free society; but so is the effective prosecution of crime, an interest which at times seems to be forgotten. Perfection is impossible; like other human institutions criminal proceedings must be a compromise.” The quality of a nation’s civilisation can be largely measured by the methods it uses in the enforcement of criminal law.

11. This Court in Nandini Satpathy v. P.L. Dani4 (AIR at p. 1032) quoting Lewis Mayers stated: (SCC p. 433, para 15) “The paradox has been put sharply by Lewis Mayers:

‘To strike the balance between the needs of law enforcement on the one hand and the protection of the citizen from oppression and injustice at the hands of the law-enforcement machinery on the other is a perennial problem of statecraft. The pendulum over the years has swung to the right.’ ”

Again (in AIR para 2 1, at p. 1033) it was observed: (SCC p. 436, para 23)

“We have earlier spoken of the conflicting claims requiring

reconciliation. Speaking pragmatically, there exists a rivalry between societal interest in effecting crime detection and constitutional rights which accused individuals possess. Emphasis may shift, depending on circumstances, in balancing these interests as has been happening in

1 242 NY 13, 24 : 150 NE 585, 589 (1926) 2 176 NY 351 : 68 NE 636 (1903)

3 161 F 2d 453, 465 (2d Cir 1947) 4 (1978) 2 SCC 424 : 1978 SCC (Cri) 236 : AIR 19’78 SC 1025, 1032

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America. Since Miranda5 there has been retreat from stress on protection of the accused and gravitation towards society’s interest in convicting law-breakers. Currently, the trend in the American jurisdiction according to legal journals, is that ‘respect for (constitutional) principles is eroded when they leap their proper bounds to interfere with the legitimate interests of society in enforcement of its laws…’. (Couch v. United StateS6). Our constitutional perspective has, therefore, to be relative and cannot afford to be absolutist, especially when torture technology, crime escalation and other social variables affect the application of principles in producing humane justice.”

12. The National Police Commission in its Third Report referring to the quality of arrests by the police in India mentioned power of arrest as one of the chief sources of corruption in the police. The report suggested that, by and large, nearly 60% of the arrests were either unnecessary or unjustified and that such unjustified police action accounted for 43.2% of the expenditure of the jails. The said Commission in its Third Report at p. 31 observed thus: “It is obvious that a major portion of the arrests were connected with very minor prosecutions and cannot, therefore, be regarded as quite necessary from the point of view of crime prevention. Continued detention in ‘ail of the persons so arrested has also meant avoidable expenditure on their maintenance. In the above period it was estimated that 43.2 per cent of the expenditure in the connected jails was over such prisoners only who in the ultimate analysis need not have been arrested at all.” As on today, arrest with or without warrant depending upon the circumstances of a particular case is governed by the Code of Criminal Procedure.

13. Whenever a public servant is arrested that matter should be intimated to the superior officers, if possible, before the arrest and in any case, immediately after the arrest. In cases of members of Armed Forces, Army, Navy or Air Force, intimation should be sent to the Officer commanding the unit to which the member belongs. It should be done immediately after the arrest is effected.

14. Under Rule 229 of the Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha, when a member is arrested on a criminal charge or is detained under an executive order of the Magistrate, the executive authority must inform without delay such fact to the Speaker. As soon as any arrest, detention, conviction or release is effected intimation should invariably be sent to the Government concerned concurrently with the intimation sent to the Speaker/Chairman of the Legislative Assembly/Counc il/Lok Sabha/Rajya Sabha. This should be sent through telegrams and also by post and the intimation should not be on the ground of holiday. 5 Miranda v. Arizona, 384 US 436: 16 L Ed 2d 694 (1966) 6 409 US 322,336: 34 LEd 2d 548(1973) 266

15. With regard to the apprehension of juvenile offenders Section 58 of the Code of Criminal Procedure lays down as under:

“Officers in charge of police stations shall report to the District Magistrate, or, if he so directs, to the Sub-Divisional Magistrate, the cases of all persons arrested without warrant, within the limits of their respective stations, whether such persons have been admitted to bail or otherwise.”

16. Section 19(a) of the Children Act makes the following provision:

“[T]he parent or guardian of the child, if he can be found, of such arrest and direct him to be present at the Children’s Court before which the child will appear;”

17. In England, the police powers of arrest, detention and interrogation have been streamlined by the Police and Criminal Evidence Act,’ 1984 based on the report of Sir Cyril Philips Committee (Report of a Royal Commission on Criminal Procedure, Command-papers 8092 1981 1).

18. It is worth quoting the following passage from Police Powers and Accountability by John L. Lambert, p. 93: “More recently, the Royal Commission on Criminal Procedure recognised that ‘there is a critically important relationship between the police and the public in the detection and investigation of crime’ and suggested that public confidence in police powers required that these conform to three principal standards: fairness, openness and workability.” (emphasis supplied)

19. The Royal Commission suggested restrictions on the power of arrest on the basis of the “necessity of (sic) principle”. The two main objectives of this principle are that police can exercise powers only in those cases in which it was genuinely necessary to enable them to execute their duty to prevent the commission of offences, to investigate crime. The Royal Commission was of the view that such restrictions would diminish the use of arrest and produce more uniform use of powers. The Royal Commission Report on Criminal Procedure Sir Cyril Philips at p. 45 said: “… we recommend that detention upon arrest for an offence should continue only on one or more of the following criteria:

(a) the person’s unwillingness to identify himself so that a summons may be served upon him;

(b) the need to prevent the continuation or repetition of that offence;

(c) the need to protect the arrested person himself or other persons or property; (d) the need to secure or preserve evidence of or relating to that offence or to obtain such evidence from the suspect by questioning him; and

(e) the likelihood of the person failing to appear at court to answer any charge made against him.”

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The Royal Commission in the above said report at p. 46 also suggested:

“To help to reduce the use of arrest we would also propose the introduction here of a scheme that is used in Ontario enabling a police officer to issue what is called an appearance notice. That procedure can be used to obtain attendance at the police station without resorting to arrest provided a power to arrest exists, for example to be fingerprinted or to participate in an identification parade. It could also be extended to attendance for interview at a time convenient both to the suspect and to the police officer investigating the case……

20. In India, Third Report of the National Police Commission at p. 32 also suggested: “An arrest during the investigation of a cognizable case may be considered justified in one or other of the following circumstances: (i) The case involves a grave offence like murder, dacoity, robbery, rape etc., and it is necessary to arrest the accused and bring his movements under restraint to infuse confidence among the terrorstricken victims.

(ii) The accused is likely to abscond and evade the processes of law.

(iii) The accused is given to violent behaviour and is likely to commit further offences unless his movements are brought under restraint.

(iv) The accused is a habitual offender and unless kept in custody he is likely to commit similar offences again.

It would be desirable to insist through departmental instructions that a police officer making an arrest should also record in the case diary the reasons for making the arrest, thereby clarifying his conformity to the specified guidelines……”

The above guidelines are merely the incidents of personal liberty guaranteed under the Constitution of India. No arrest can be made because it is lawful for the police officer to do so. The existence of the power to arrest is one thing. The justification for the exercise of it is quite another. The police officer must be able to justify the arrest apart from his power to do so. Arrest and detention in police lock-up of a person can cause incalculable harm to the reputation and self-esteem of a person. No arrest can be made in a routine manner on a mere allegation of commission of an offence made against a person. It would be prudent for a police officer in the interest of protection of the constitutional rights of a citizen and perhaps in his own interest that no arrest should be made without a reasonable satisfaction reached after some investigation as to the genuineness and bona fides of a complaint and a reasonable belief both as to the person’s complicity and even so as to the need to effect arrest. Denying a person of his liberty is a serious matter. The recommendations of the Police Commission merely reflect the constitutional concomitants of the fundamental right to personal liberty and freedom. A 268

person is not liable to arrest merely on the suspicion of complicity in an offence. There must be some reasonable justification in the opinion of the officer effecting the arrest that such arrest is necessary and justified. Except in heinous offences, an arrest must be avoided if a police officer issues notice to person to attend the Station House and not to leave the Station without permission would do.

21. Then, there is the right to have someone informed. That right of the arrested person, upon request, to have someone informed and to consult privately with a lawyer was recognised by Section 56(1) of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, 1984 in England (Civil Actions Against the Police Richard Clayton and Hugh Tomlinson; p. 313). That section provides:

“[W]here a person has been arrested and is being held in custody in a police station or other premises, he shall be entitled, if he so requests, to have one friend or relative or other person who is known to him or who is likely to take an interest in his welfare told, as soon as is practicable except to the extent that delay is permitted by this section, that he has been arrested and is being detained there.”

These rights are inherent in Articles 21 and 22(1) of the Constitution and require to be recognised and scrupulously protected. For effective enforcement of these fundamental rights, we issue the following requirements:

1. An arrested person being held in custody is entitled, if he so requests to have one friend, relative or other person who is known to him or likely to take an interest in his welfare told as far as is practicable that he has been arrested and where he is being detained.

2. The police officer shall inform the arrested person when he is brought to the police station of this right.

3. An entry shall be required to be made in the diary as to who was informed of the arrest. These protections from power must be held to flow from Articles 21 and 22(1) and enforced strictly.

It shall be the duty of the Magistrate, before whom the arrested person is produced, to satisfy himself that these requirements have been complied with.

22. The above requirements shall be followed in all cases of arrest till legal provisions are made in this behalf. These requirements shall be in addition to the rights of the arrested persons found in the various police manuals.

23. These requirements are not exhaustive. The Directors General of Police of all the States in India shall issue necessary instructions requiring due observance of these requirements. In addition, departmental instruction shall also be issued that a police officer making an arrest should also record in the case diary, the reasons for making the arrest.