The Supreme Court has refused to modify its judgment that restrained police of all states from “automatically” arresting the accused in dowry harassment cases. The court dismissed a plea by the National Commission for Women (NCW) to reconsider its July 2014 verdict, which had said that dowry laws were being “used as weapons, rather than shields, by disgruntled wives”.
Holding that the anti-dowry law was being misused, the 2014 judgment held that arrests in all cases where the maximum punishment is up to seven years in jail cannot be made on a reasonable belief that the accused may have committed the offence. It added there has to be adequate material to show that the arrest was necessary to ensure proper probe or to prevent the accused from committing any further offence or any act to influence the outcome of the case.
This judgment was sought to be reviewed by the NCW, that claimed that the judgment in Arnesh Kumar case went beyond what the statutory provisions had prescribed. The NCW said the ruling gave an unreasonable leeway to police in deciding whether or not to arrest those complained against in a dowry harassment case.
The review plea added that the judgment was prone to be misused by police and could work against the interest of women. As per the NCW, the law was clear on the subject and any person arrested in a dowry harassment case could secure bail from a trial court if he or she was wrongly arrested.
The arguments, however, failed to cut ice with a bench led by Justice Chelameswar, which held there was no ground to entertain the NCW’s review petition. “Permission to file review petition is declined,” said the bench.
Meanwhile, the central government Wednesday informed Parliament that it was contemplating to make offences under the dowry law compoundable.