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Arnesh Kumar v. State of Bihar

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Case name : Arnesh Kumar v. State of Bihar and Anr

Citations: Arnesh Kumar v. State of Bihar and Anr.(2014)8 SCC 273

Date of Judgement: 02/07/2014

Case No: Criminal Appeal No. 1277 of 2014, Special Leave Petition (CRL.) No. 9127 of 2013

Case Type: Special Leave Petition (Criminal)

Appellant: Arnesh Kumar

Respondent No.1: State of Bihar & Anr.

Respondent No. 2: Sweta Kiran

Bench: Hon’ble Justice Chandramauli Kr. Prasad and Hon’ble Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose

Court: Supreme Court of India

Statutes Referred:

The Indian Penal Code, 1860; Section- 498-A

The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961; Section- 4

The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (Cr. PC); Sections- 41, 41A, 57,167, 438

Constitution of India; Article 22(2)

Facts:

  • This case is a landmark case on 2 folds, firstly, on misuse of Section 498-A of Indian Penal Code, 1860(IPC) and secondly, on putting further checks and balances on power of Police to arrest without warrant.
  • The marriage between Arnesh Kumar and Sweta Kiran was solemnized on 01/07/2007.
  • Sweta Kiran alleged before the court that her mother-in-law and father-in-law has demanded Rupees 8 lakhs, a Maruti Car, an Air-Conditioner, Television set etc. and when this fact was brought to the Arnesh Kumar’s notice, he supported his mother and threatened to marry another woman. Further she also alleged that, she was driven out of her matrimonial home due to non-fulfilment of the demand of dowry.
  • Arnesh Kumar denied these allegations and preferred an application for anticipatory bail which was earlier rejected by the learned Sessions Judge and thereafter by the High Court.
  • Hence Arnesh Kumar has moved to Supreme Court by the way of Special Leave Petition.

Issues Involved:

1. Whether it is necessary for a Police officer to arrest a person against a complaint if such person is suspected to commit a cognizable offence?

2. What are the remedies available to a person, if the women misuse section 498-A, of IPC to her own advantage?

3. Whether the appellant should be granted anticipatory bail?

Judgement:

The Supreme Court granted provisional bail to the appellant on certain conditions.The Apex Court said 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.” The Apex Court gave some mandatory directions for Police to be followed before arresting a person to avoid unnecessary arrest of accused.

Supreme Court Stated Directions for Police to be followed:

1. All the State Governments to instruct its Police officers not to automatically arrest when a case under section 498-Aof 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.

2. All Police officers be provided with a check list containing specified sub-clauses under section 41(1)(b)(ii).

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.

4. 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.

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.

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.

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.

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

Ratio Decidendi:

  • “Crime in India 2012 Statistics” shows arrest of 1,97,762 persons all over India during the year 2012 for offence under section 498-A of the IPC. The rate of charge-sheeting in cases under section 498A, IPC is as high as 93.6%, while the conviction rate is only 15%. This data clearly shows the misuse of this section.
  • Section 41 and 41A of Cr.PC has made it evident that a Police officer shall not unnecessarily arrest a person accused of offence punishable with imprisonment for a term which may be less than or extend to 7 years with or without fine, cannot be arrested by the Police officer only on its satisfaction that such person had committed the offence, moreover 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.

Obiter Dicta:

N/A

Conclusion:

Every coin has two sides, the powers given to women under section 498-A of IPC not only brought advantages to women but nowadays they are being widely misused. The Court in this case not only granted bail to the accused but also cater the problem of unnecessary arrest by putting some mandatory directions that ought to be followed by the Police before arresting accused thus created some further checks and balance on power of Police as well as a relief to the people who are being harassed by false cases. As Court eloquently stated, “Arrest brings humiliation, curtails freedom and cast scars forever.”

Drafted By- Harshpreet Kaur, Lloyd Law College