Supreme Court reserves verdict on 498A plea

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Facts

The SC on 23rd April reserved its verdict on petitions seeking restoration its verdict of the stringency of Section 498A of IPC which provides for the arrest of the husband and his relatives on the complaint of a wife alleging cruelty meted out to her because of dowry.

In the course of the hearing on the question of reconsideration of the 2017 apex court judgement in Rajesh Sharma , diluting the efficacy of section 498A of the IPC, Senior Counsel Indu Malhotra, having been appointed Amicus Curiae in the writ petition by NGO Nyayadhar, advanced submissions in respect of the directions issues in the said judgment.

Petitioners being, senior advocates Indu Malhotra and Indira Jaising brought up the fault in the SC’s July 27, 2017, judgement by a two- judge bench in diluting the arrest provision and said the IPC provision was enacted to protect women from ill treatment at her matrimonial home by husbands and in laws as the legislature believed that dowry had a chilling effect on the institution of marriage.

Referring to the original petition Indira jaising advanced,” the simple prayer in the petition was for quashing the FIR, in which behalf usually the(1990 apex court judgment in) bhajan lal(state of Haryana v.ch. Bhajan Lal ) is followed . the woman in the main matter in Rajesh Sharma had filed a complaint under sections 199 and 200 of the Cr.P. C. a complain is different from the FIR in the sense that the former involves the intervention of a Magistrate who, upon recording evidence , determines whether to issue the summons.

to tackle the concerns regarding frivolous and vexatious complaints, section 182 of the IPC may be resorted to”, added Ms. Malhotra.

The chief Justice on 23 rd april said “ we are not dealing with the facts of the case. The judgment in Rajesh Sharma binds the parties thereto. This is not an appeal.. we shall see if the directions fill in the gaps in consonance with the spirit of Section 498A and validly under Article 142.”

Bench

The bench was consisted of Justice Deepak Mishra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud said it agreed with the petitioners’ plea that the two judge bench’s decision to dilute the stringency of Section 498A did not co-relate with the situation presented by the petition.

The verdict on 498A clarified that if protection of women in matrimonial homes was needed through a stringent provision, at the same time, one could not lose sight of possible abuse of the section to violate the liberty of the husband and his relatives.

Judgment

The bench reserved its judgment on 23rd  April.

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