To prevent misuse of dowry harassment laws, no arrests will be made without prior investigations, a circular issued by the Commissioner of Police states.
According to the order, only the main accused will be arrested unlike previous instances when even the distant relatives were not spared. Earlier, a mere allegation or the name of a relative lodged in the First Information Report (FIR) by the complainant was enough to arrest the entire family.
The order issued by the Commissioner of Police clearly states that any arrests under sections 498 A (matrimonial cruelty) and 406 (criminal breach of trust) of the Indian Penal Code will be made with prior permission of a Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP).
“Arrest of the accused should be an exception and not a rule. From the allegations set out in the FIR and other subsequent allegations or material collected during investigation, if necessary only the prime/main accused, whose primary role in commission of the offence has been established, should be arrested, and that too after the prior written approval of the DCP,” the order issued by Y.S. Dadwal, Commissioner of Police, reads.
Social activist Ranjana Kumari said, “Earlier the police either registered an FIR or arrested everyone named in the FIR. The new guidelines have ensured that all the complaints are registered and the ones found guilty in the due course of investigations are arrested. Violence perpetrated on a woman would be proved anyway during the investigations.”
According to a survey conducted by the USAID and Centre for Social Research, it was found that six per cent of the complaints are aimed to settle scores and get even with in-laws.
The order also states a judgment passed by the Delhi High Court in 2003. The Court observed that Sections 498A/406 of the IPC which are “much abused provisions and exploited by the police and the victims to the level of absurdity….every relative of the husband, close or distant, old or minor is arrested by the police. Unless the allegations are very serious in nature and highest magnitude, arrest should be avoided”.
Last year, of over 4,400 distress calls received by women, about 24.3 per cent calls were related to domestic violence.
“The new guidelines have definitely ensured better monitoring. The supervision is also accurate. We now ensure that any arrest under Sections 498A/406 is not made without any evidence. This measure has proved to be a deterrent in arresting innocent people. Mere naming anyone in the FIR is not sufficient to arrest anyone. We have also seen a fall in the number of frivolous complaints after that,” said a senior police officer.