New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday restored the police power to act on complaints of dowry harassment under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud struck down its earlier verdict that family welfare committees scrutinize dowry harassment complaints and submit their reports before police acts on the same. It held that setting up of family welfare committees and powers conferred on these was “impermissible”.
“There are statutory provisions and judgments in the field and, therefore, directions pertaining to a constitution of a committee and conferment of power on the said committee is erroneous,” Chief Justice Misra said while speaking for the bench. Restoring police power to arrest, the court, however, said that police will act with caution in these cases. “We think it appropriate to direct the Investigating Officer to be careful in dealing with the complaints of dowry harassment.”
Referring to its earlier judgments, the court said that arrests in cases where the offense of dowry harassment attracts punishment of imprisonment of seven years or less, the Investigating Officer will affect arrests only on satisfaction that such persons had committed the offense. He has to be further satisfied that the arrest is necessary to prevent such persons from committing a further offense, including the disappearance of or tampering with evidence or requirement of further investigation. (IANS)