Thursday, August 14, 2008

High Court rap on dowry law misuse

Strongly criticising the use of anti-dowry law as a “weapon of harassment”, the Delhi High Court has expressed concern over the growing trend of married women charging virtually every member of the husband's family on frivolous grounds.

The court said from now on, family members of the man facing dowry harassment charges — father, mother, brother and sister — can be arrested only after prior approval from Deputy Commissioners of Police of the zone concerned. The court also said "no case under section 498 A of the IPC (dowry harassment) should be registered without the prior approval of DCP/Additional DCP.

Justice Kailash Gambhir was critical of the increasing trend of the complainant wife's family colluding with police officials to harass the entire family of the husband.

The judge said the main accused (husband) will be arrested only after thorough investigation and with the prior approval of an ACP or DCP.

Justice Gambir issued the guidelines while hearing a joint anticipatory bail application filed by the in-laws of a woman in a matrimonial dispute case lodged by their daughter-in-law. Directing the police to scrutinise complaints filed by the wife carefully, the court said the FIR should be registered if there is strong possibility of physical or mental cruelty against the complainant woman.

In addition, the police should make all efforts for reconciliation before the registration of FIR, the court said in the guidelines.

Besides the police, the court issued guidelines to NGOs, lawyers and trial courts, saying they have a greater responsibility in this regard.


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