Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Power to Summon a witness or Recall U/S 311 Cr.P.C.


""311. Power to summon material witness, or examine person present:-. Any Court may, at any stage of any inquiry, trial or other proceeding under this Code, summon any person as a witness, or examine any person in attendance, though not summoned as a witness, or recall and re- examine any person already examined; and the Court shall summon and examine or recall and reexamine any such person if his evidence appears to it to be essential to the just decision of the case."

Careful perusal of aforesaid provision clearly suggests that court enjoys vast power to summon any person as a witness or recall and re-examine a witness provided same is essentially .
required for just decision of the case. Moreover, such exercise of power can be at any stage of inquiry, trial or proceedings under the Code, meaning thereby applicant can file an application at any time before conclusion of trial. Very object of Section 311 is to bring on record evidence not only from the point of view of accused and prosecution but also from the point of view of the orderly society.

Otherwise also, it is well established principle of criminal jurisprudence that discovery, vindication and establishment of truth are main purposes of underlying object of courts of justice. It is also well settled that wider the power, greater the responsibility upon court, which exercises such power and exercise of such power cannot be untrammeled and arbitrary, rather same must be guided by object of arriving at a just decision of case. Close scrutiny of aforesaid provision of law further suggests that Section 311 has two parts; first part reserves a right to the parties to move an appropriate application for re-examination of a witness at any stage; but definitely the second part is mandatory that casts a duty upon court to re-examine or recall or summon a witness at any stage if his/her evidence appears to be essential for just decision of case because, definitely the underlying object of aforesaid provision of law is to ensure that there is no failure of justice on account of mistake on the part of either of parties in bringing valuable piece of evidence or leaving an ambiguity in the statements of witnesses examined from either side.


Hon'ble Apex Court in Zahira Habibullah Sheikh (5) and another vs. State of Gujarat and others (2006)3 SCC 374 has held as under:-

"27. The object underlying Section 311 of the Code is that there may not be failure of justice on account of mistake of either party in bringing the valuable evidence on record or leaving ambiguity in the statements of the witnesses examined from either side. The determinative factor is whether it is essential to the just decision of the case. The section is not limited only for the benefit of the accused, and it will not be an improper exercise of the powers of the Court to summon a witness under the Section merely because the evidence supports the case for the prosecution and not that of the accused. The section is a general section which applies to all proceedings, enquiries and trials under the Code and empowers Magistrate to issue summons to any witness at any stage of such proceedings, trial or enquiry. In Section 311 the significant expression that occurs is "at any stage of inquiry or trial or other proceeding under this Code". It is, however, to be borne in mind that whereas the section confers a very wide power on the Court on summoning witnesses, the discretion conferred is to be exercised judiciously, as the wider the power the greater is the necessity for application of judicial mind.

28. As indicated above, the Section is wholly discretionary. The second part of it imposes upon the Magistrate an obligation: it is, that the Court shall summon and examine all persons whose evidence appears to be essential to the just decision of the case. It is a cardinal rule in the law of evidence that the best available evidence should be brought before the Court. Sections 60, 64 and 91 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 (in short, 'Evidence Act') are based on this rule. The Court is not empowered under the provisions of the Code to compel either the prosecution or the defence to examine any particular witness or witnesses on their side. This must be left to the parties. But in weighing the evidence, the Court can take note of the fact that the best available evidence has not been given, and can draw an adverse inference. The Court will often have to depend on intercepted allegations made by the parties, or on inconclusive inference from facts elicited in the evidence. In such cases, the Court has to act under the second part of the section. Sometimes the examination of witnesses as directed by the Court may result in what is thought to be "filling of loopholes". That is purely a subsidiary factor and cannot be taken into account. Whether the new evidence is essential or not must of course depend on the facts of each case, and has to be determined by the Presiding Judge.

29. The object of the Section 311 is to bring on record evidence not only from the point of view of the accused and the prosecution but also from the point of view of the orderly society. If a witness called by Court gives evidence against the complainant he should be allowed an opportunity to cross- examine. The right to cross-examine a witness who is called by a Court arises not under the provision of Section 311, but under the Evidence Act which gives a party the right to cross- examine a witness who is not his own witness. Since a witness summoned by the Court could not be termed a witness of any particular party, the Court should give the right of cross- examination to the complainant. These aspects were highlighted in Jamat Raj Kewalji Govani v. State of Maharashtra, (AIR 1968 SC 178).
30. Right from the inception of the judicial system it has been accepted that discovery, vindication and establishment of truth are the main purposes underlying existence of Courts of justice. The operative principles for a fair trial permeate the common law in both civil and criminal contexts. Application of these principles involves a delicate judicial balancing of competing interests in a criminal trial, the interests of the accused and the public and to a great extent that of the victim have to be weighed not losing sight of the public interest involved in the prosecution of persons who commit offences.

 Hon'ble Apex Court in Raja Ram Prasad Yadav vs. State of Bihar and another, (2013)14 SCC 461, has held that power under Section 311 Cr.P.C. to summon any person or witness or examine any person already examined can be exercised at any stage provided the same is required for just decision of the case. It may be profitable to take note of the following paras of the judgment:-

"14. A conspicuous reading of Section 311 Cr.P.C. would show that widest of the powers have been invested with the Courts when it comes to the question of summoning a witness or to recall or re-examine any witness already examined. A reading of the provision shows that the expression "any" has been used as a pre-fix to "court", "inquiry", "trial", "other proceeding", "person as a witness", "person in attendance though not summoned as a witness", and "person already examined". By using the said expression "any" as a pre-fix to the various expressions mentioned above, it is ultimately stated that all that was required to be satisfied by the Court was only in relation to such evidence that appears to the Court to be essential for the just decision of the case. Section 138 of the Evidence Act, prescribed the order of examination of a witness in the Court. Order of re-examination is also prescribed calling for such a witness so desired for such re-examination. Therefore, a reading of Section 311 Cr.P.C. and Section 138 Evidence Act, insofar as it comes to the question of a criminal trial, the order of re-examination at the desire of any person under Section 138, will have to necessarily be in consonance with the prescription contained in Section 311 Cr.P.C. It is, therefore, imperative that the invocation of Section 311 Cr.P.C. and its application in a particular case can be ordered by the Court, only by bearing in mind the object and purport of the said provision, namely, for achieving a just decision of the case as noted by us earlier. The power vested under the said provision is made available to any Court at any stage in any inquiry or trial or other proceeding initiated under the Code for the purpose of summoning any person as a witness or for examining any person in attendance, even though not summoned as witness or to recall or re-examine any person already examined. Insofar as recalling and re-examination of any person already examined, the Court must necessarily consider and-ensure that such recall and re-examination of any person, appears in the view of the Court to be essential for the just decision of the case.

 Therefore, the paramount requirement is just decision and for that purpose the essentiality of a person to be recalled and re-examined has to be ascertained. To put it differently, while such a widest power is invested with the Court, it is needless to state that exercise of such power should be made judicially and also with extreme care and caution.

 In this context, we also wish to make a reference to certain decisions rendered by this Court on the interpretation of Section 311 Cr.P.C. where, this Court highlighted as to the basic principles which are to be borne in mind, while dealing with an application under Section 311 Cr.P.C.
 In the decision reported in Jamatraj Kewalji Govani vs. State of Maharashtra - AIR 1968 SC 178, this Court held as under in paragraph 14:-

"14. It would appear that in our criminal jurisdiction, statutory law confers a power in absolute terms to be exercised at any stage of the trial to summon a witness or examine one present in court or to recall a witness already examined, and makes this the duty and obligation of the Court provided the just decision of the case demands it. In other words, where the court exercises the power under the second part, the inquiry cannot be whether the accused has brought anything suddenly or unexpectedly but whether the court is right in thinking that the new evidence is needed by it for a just decision of the case. If the court has acted without the requirements of a just decision, the action is open to criticism but if the court's action is supportable as being in aid of a just decision the action cannot be regarded as exceeding the jurisdiction." (Emphasis added) 15.2 In the decision reported in Mohanlal Shamji Soni vs. Union of India and another - 1991 Suppl.(1) SCC 271, this Court again highlighted the importance of the power to be exercised under Section 311 Cr.P.C. as under in paragraph 10:-

"10....In order to enable the court to find out the truth and render a just decision, the salutary provisions of Section 540 of the Code


(Section 311 of the new Code) are enacted whereunder any court by exercising its discretionary authority at any stage of enquiry, trial or other proceeding can summon any person as a witness or examine any person in attendance though not summoned as a witness or .
recall or re- examine any person in attendance though not summoned as a witness or recall and reexamine any person already examined who are expected to be able to throw light upon the matter in dispute; because if judgments happen to be rendered on inchoate, inconclusive and speculative presentation of facts, the ends of justice would be defeated."

15.3 In the decision in Raj Deo Sharma (II) vs. State of Bihar - 1999 (7) SCC 604, the proposition has been reiterated as under in paragraph 9:-

"9. We may observe that the power of the court as envisaged in Section 311 of the Code of Criminal Procedure has not been curtailed by this Court. Neither in the decision of the five-Judge Bench in A.R. Antulay case nor in Kartar Singh case such power has been restricted for achieving speedy trial. In other words, even if the prosecution evidence is closed in compliance with the directions contained in the main judgment it is still open to the prosecution to invoke the powers of the court under Section 311 of the Code. We make it clear that if evidence of any witness appears to the court to be essential to the just decision of the case it is the duty of the court to summon and examine or recall and re-examine any such person."

(Emphasis added) 15.4 In U.T. of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Anr. vs. Fatehsinh Mohansinh Chauhan - 2006 (7) SCC 529, the decision has been further elucidated as under in paragraph 15:-
"15. A conspectus of authorities referred to above would show that the principle is well settled that the exercise of power under Section 311 CrPC should be resorted to only with the object of finding out the truth or obtaining proper proof of such facts which lead to a just and correct decision of the case, this being the primary duty of a criminal court. Calling a witness or re-examining a witness already examined for the purpose of finding out the truth in order to enable the court to arrive at a just decision of the case cannot be dubbed as "filling in a lacuna in the prosecution case" unless the facts and circumstances of the case make it apparent that the exercise of power by the court would result in causing serious prejudice to the accused resulting in miscarriage of justice." (Emphasis supplied) .

15.5 In Iddar & Ors. vs. Aabida & Anr. - AIR 2007 SC 3029, the object underlying under Section 311 Cr.P.C., has been stated as under in paragraph 9:-

"9...27. The object underlying Section 311 of the Code is that there may not be failure of justice on account of mistake of either party in bringing the valuable evidence on record or leaving ambiguity in the statements of the witnesses examined from either side. The determinative factor is whether it is essential to the just decision of the case. The section is not limited only for the benefit of the accused, and it will not be an improper exercise of the powers of the court to summon a witness under the section merely because the evidence supports the case for the prosecution and not that of the accused. The section is a general section which applies to all proceedings, enquiries and trials under the Code and empowers Magistrate to issue summons to any witness at any stage of such proceedings, trial or enquiry. In Section 311 the significant expression that occurs is 'at any stage of inquiry or trial or other proceeding under this Code'. It is, however, to be borne in mind that whereas the section confers a very wide power on the court on summoning witnesses, the discretion conferred is to be exercised judiciously, as the wider the power the greater is the necessity for application of judicial mind." 

(Emphasis added) 15.6 In P. Sanjeeva Rao vs. State of A.P.- AIR 2012 SC 2242, the scope of Section 311 Cr.P.C. has been highlighted by making reference to an earlier decision of this Court and also with particular reference to the case, which was dealt with in that decision in paragraphs 20 and 23, which are as under:-

"20. Grant of fairest opportunity to the accused to prove his innocence was the object of every fair trial, observed this Court in Hoffman Andreas v. Inspector of Customs, Amritsar (2000) 10 SCC

430. The following passage is in this regard apposite:


"6. ...In such circumstances, if the new counsel thought to have the material witnesses further examined, the Court could adopt latitude and a liberal view in the interest of justice, particularly when the court has unbridled powers in the matter as enshrined in Section 311 of the Code. After all the trial is basically for the prisoners and courts should afford the opportunity to them in the fairest manner possible."

23. We are conscious of the fact that recall of the witnesses is being directed nearly four years after they were examined-in-chief about an incident that is nearly seven years old. Delay takes a heavy toll on the human memory apart from breeding cynicism about the efficacy of the judicial system to decide cases within a reasonably foreseeable time period. To that extent the apprehension expressed by Mr. Rawal, that the prosecution may suffer prejudice on account of a belated recall, may not be wholly without any basis. Having said that, we are of the opinion that on a parity of reasoning and looking to the consequences of denial of opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses, we would prefer to err in favour of the appellant getting an opportunity rather than protecting the prosecution against a possible prejudice at his cost. Fairness of the trial is a virtue that is sacrosanct in our judicial system and no price is too heavy to protect that virtue. A possible prejudice to prosecution is not even a price, leave alone one that would justify denial of a fair opportunity to the accused to defend himself." (Emphasis in original) 

15.7 In a recent decision of this Court in Sheikh Jumman vs. State of Maharashtra - (2012) 9 SCALE

 18, the above referred to decisions were followed.

 Again in an unreported decision rendered by this Court dated 08.05.2013 in Natasha Singh vs. CBI (State) - Criminal Appeal No.709 of 2013, where one of us was a party, various other decisions of this Court were referred to and the position has been stated as under in paragraphs 15 and 16:
The scope and object of the provision is to enable the Court to determine the truth and to render a just decision after discovering all relevant facts and obtaining proper proof of such facts, to arrive at a just decision of the case. Power must be exercised judiciously and not capriciously or arbitrarily, as
any improper or capricious exercise of such power may lead to undesirable results. An application under Section 311 Cr.P.C. must not be allowed only to fill up a lacuna in the case of the prosecution, or of the defence, or to the disadvantage of the accused, or to cause serious prejudice to the defence of the accused, or to give an unfair advantage to the opposite party. Further the additional evidence must not be received as a disguise for retrial, or to change the nature of the case against either of the parties. Such a power must be exercised, provided that the evidence that is likely to be tendered by a witness, is germane to the issue involved. An opportunity of rebuttal, however, must be given to the other party.

The power conferred under Section 311 Cr.P.C. must, therefore, be invoked by the Court only in order to meet the ends of justice, for strong and valid reasons, and the same must be exercised with great caution and circumspection.

The very use of words such as 'any Court', 'at any stage', or 'or any enquiry', trial or other proceedings', 'any person' and 'any such person' clearly spells out that the provisions of this section have been expressed in the widest possible terms, and do not limit the discretion of the Court in any way. There is thus no escape if the fresh evidence to be obtained is essential to the just decision of the case. The determinative factor should, therefore, be whether the summoning/recalling of the said witness is in fact, essential to the just decision of the case.

 Fair trial is the main object of criminal procedure, and it is the duty of the court to ensure that such fairness is not hampered or threatened in any manner. Fair trial entails the interests of the accused, the victim and of the society, and therefore, fair trial includes the grant of fair and proper opportunities to the person concerned, and the same must be ensured as this is a constitutional, as well as a human right. Thus, under no circumstances can a person's right to fair trial be jeopardized. Adducing evidence in support of the defence is a valuable right. Denial of such right would amount to the


denial of a fair trial. Thus, it is essential that the rules of procedure that have been designed to ensure justice are scrupulously followed, and the court must be zealous in ensuring that there is no breach of the same. (Vide Talab Haji .

Hussain v. Madhukar Purshottam Mondkar & Anr., AIR 1958 SC 376; Zahira Habibulla H. Sheikh & Anr. v. State of Gujarat & Ors. AIR 2004 SC 3114; Zahira Habibullah Sheikh & Anr. v. State of Gujarat & Ors., AIR 2006 SC 1367; Kalyani Baskar (Mrs.) v. M.S. Sampoornam (Mrs.) (2007) 2 SCC 258; Vijay Kumar v. State of U.P. & Anr., (2011) 8 SCC 136; and Sudevanand v. State through C.B.I. (2012) 3 SCC 387.)"

 From a conspectus consideration of the above decisions, while dealing with an application under Section 311 Cr.P.C. read along with Section 138 of the Evidence Act, we feel the following principles will have to be borne in mind by the Courts:

a) Whether the Court is right in thinking that the new evidence is needed by it? Whether the evidence sought to be led in under Section 311 is noted by the Court for a just decision of a case?

b) The exercise of the widest discretionary power under Section 311 Cr.P.C. should ensure that the judgment should not be rendered on inchoate, inconclusive and speculative presentation of facts, as thereby the ends of justice would be defeated.

c) If evidence of any witness appears to the Court to be essential to the just decision of the case, it is the power of the Court to summon and examine or recall and reexamine any such person.

d) The exercise of power under Section 311 Cr.P.C. should be resorted to only with the object of finding out the truth or obtaining proper proof for such facts, which will lead to a just and correct decision of the case.

e) The exercise of the said power cannot be dubbed as filling in a lacuna in a prosecution case, unless the facts and circumstances of the case make it apparent that the exercise of power by the Court would result in causing serious prejudice to the accused, resulting in miscarriage of justice.

f) The wide discretionary power should be exercised judiciously and not arbitrarily.

g) The Court must satisfy itself that it was in every respect essential to examine such a witness or to recall him for further .examination in order to arrive at a just decision of the case.

h) The object of Section 311 Cr.P.C. simultaneously imposes a duty on the Court to determine the truth and to render a just decision.

i) The Court arrives at the conclusion that additional evidence is necessary, not because it would be impossible to pronounce the judgment without it, but because there would be a failure of justice without such evidence being considered.

j) Exigency of the situation, fair play and good sense should be the safe guard, while exercising the discretion. The Court should bear in mind that no party in a trial can be foreclosed from correcting errors and that if proper evidence was not adduced or a relevant material was not brought on record due to any inadvertence, the Court should be magnanimous in permitting such mistakes to be rectified.

k) The Court should be conscious of the position that after all the trial is basically for the prisoners and the Court should afford an opportunity to them in the fairest manner possible. In that parity of reasoning, it would be safe to err in favour of the accused getting an opportunity rather than protecting the prosecution against possible prejudice at the cost of the accused. The Court should bear in mind that improper or capricious exercise of such a discretionary power, may lead to undesirable results.

l) The additional evidence must not be received as a disguise or to change the nature of the case against any of the party.

m) The power must be exercised keeping in mind that the evidence that is likely to be tendered, would be germane to the issue involved and also ensure that an opportunity of rebuttal is given to the other party.

n) The power under Section 311 Cr.P.C. must therefore, be invoked by the Court only in order to meet the ends of justice for strong and valid reasons and the same must be exercised,
with care, caution and circumspection. The Court should bear in mind that fair trial entails the interest of the accused, the victim and the society and, therefore, the grant of fair and proper opportunities to the persons concerned, must be .ensured being a constitutional goal, as well as a human right."

.Hon'ble Apex Court in Mannan SK and others vs. State of West Bengal and another AIR 2014 SC 

2950, wherein the Hon'ble Court has held as under:-

"10. The aim of every court is to discover truth. Section 311 of the Code is one of many such provisions of the Code which strengthen the arms of a court in its effort to ferret out the truth by procedure sanctioned by law. It is couched in very wide terms. It empowers the court at any stage of any inquiry, trial or other proceedings under the Code to summon any person as a witness or examine any person in attendance, though not summoned as witness or recall and re-examine already examined witness. The second part of the Section uses the word 'shall'. It says that the court shall summon and examine or recall or re-examine any such person if his evidence appears to it to be essential to the just decision of the case. The words 'essential to the just decision of the case' are the key words. The court must form an opinion that for the just decision of the case recall or reexamination of the witness is necessary. Since the power is wide it's exercise has to be done with circumspection. It is trite that wider the power greater is the responsibility on the courts which exercise it. The exercise of this power cannot be untrammeled and arbitrary but must be only guided by the object of arriving at a just decision of the case. It should not cause prejudice to the accused. It should not permit the prosecution to fill-up the lacuna. Whether recall of a witness is for filling-up of a lacuna or it is for just decision of a case depends on facts and circumstances of each case. In all cases it is likely to be argued that the prosecution is trying to fill-up a lacuna because the line of demarcation is thin. It is for the court to consider all the circumstances and decide whether the prayer for recall is genuine."

13. Aforesaid exposition of law clearly suggests that a fair trial is main object of criminal jurisprudence and it is duty of court to ensure such fairness is not hampered or threatened in any manner. It has been further held in the aforesaid judgments that fair trial entails interests of accused, victim and society and therefore, grant of fair and proper opportunities to the persons concerned, must be ensured being a constitutional goal, as well as a human right. Hon'ble Apex Court has categorically held in the aforesaid judgment that adducing evidence in support of the defence is a valuable right and denial of such right would amount to denial of a fair trial.

14. Hon'ble Apex Court in Raja Ram Prasad Yadav vs. State of Bihar and another, (2013)14 SCC 461, while culling out certain principles required to be borne in mind by the courts while considering applications under Section 311 has held that exercise of widest discretionary powers under Section 311 should ensure that judgment should not be rendered on inchoate, inconclusive and speculative presentation of facts. Hon'ble Apex Court has further held that if evidence of any witness appears to be essential for the just decision of the case, it is the duty of the court to summon and examine or recall and re-examine any such person because very object of exercising power under Section 311 is to find out truth and render a just decision. Most importantly, in the judgment referred to herein above, Hon'ble Apex Court has held that court should bear in mind that no party in trial can be .foreclosed from correcting errors and that if proper evidence was not adduced or a relevant material was not brought on record due to any inadvertence, the Court should be magnanimous in permitting such mistakes to be rectified.


Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Bail in false rape cases in Delhi India

                   "Rape is one of the most barbaric and heinous crimes not only against the victim of the rape but also against the society as a whole. The cases of rape, gang rape and digital rape are on increase and perpetrators of this inhuman and brutal crime are worse than even the beasts and deserve to be dealt with a heavy hand. The entire country is seriously debating this issue and there are proposals coming forth that death penalty should be the answer to deal with the accused involved in such heinous crime. Having said this, I am also constrained to observe here that no one should be allowed to trivialise the gravity of offence by misusing the same as a weapon for vengeance or vendetta."
            "There is an old Jewish saying "if you are close when you should be distant, you will be distant when you should be close". It is for both man and woman to restrain themselves and not to indulge in intimate activities prior to the marriage. Undoubtedly it is responsibility, moral & ethical, both, on the part of men not to exploit any woman by extending false promise or through devious acts to force or induce the girl for sexual relationship. But ultimately, it is woman herself who is the protector of her own body. Promise to marry may or may not culminate into marriage. It is the prime responsibility of the woman in the relationship or even otherwise to protect her honour, dignity and modesty. A woman should not throw herself to a man and indulge in promiscuity, becoming source of hilarity. It is for her to maintain her purity, chastity and virtues"
Rape is a crime against one's mind, psyche and reputation. Rape leaves a permanent scar on the life of the victim and it becomes horrendous for the victim of rape to lead a dignified and well respected life in the society. It is very unfortunate that there is a high increase in the rape instances and ravenous maniacs are not even sparing the girls of a very tender age. Some of the recent rape cases have been so horrifying that the entire nation protestedto condemn these barbaric acts and raised a voice to curb the said menace by inflicting more severe punishment. The Government also promptly appointed Justice J.S. Verma Committee to review laws on crimes against women, which recommended certain dramatic changes in the Criminal law relating to offences against women.
Undoubtedly there is a manifold increase in the crime concerning rapes, but all the rape cases which are filed have their own individual story and factual matrix. While most of the cases may be genuine, wherein the girl is a victim of this horrifying crime, or has been forced, blackmailed, threatened to enter into physical relationship with a male on the false pretext of marriage with the sole intent to physically exploit the girl but there may be cases where both persons out of their own will and choice, develop a physical relationship. Many of the cases are being reported by those women who have consensual physical relationship with a man but when the relationship breaks due to one or the other reason, the women use the law as a weapon for vengeance and personal vendetta to extort money and sometimes even to force the boy to get married to her. Out of anger and frustration, they tend to convert such consensual sex as an incident of rape, defeating the very purpose of the provision. There is a clear demarcation between rape and consensual sex and in cases where such controversies are involved, the court must very cautiously examine the intentions of both the individuals involved and to check if even the girl on the other hand is genuine or had malafide motives. Cases like these not only make mockery of the sacred institution of marriage but also inflate the statistics of rape cases which further deprecates our own society.


                             IN THE HIGH COURT OF DELHI AT NEW DELHI
+                                                BAIL APPLN. 311/2013
         ROHIT CHAUHAN
                                                                                                              ..... Petitioner
                            Through Mr. B.S. Rana with Mr.T   Mr.VijenderBhardwaj and
                                       Mr. Satyam Sisodiya, Advs.
                            Versus

         STATE NCT OF DELHI
                                                                                                                  ..... Respondent
                            Through Mr. Navin Sharma, APP for the State.
                                       Mr.MasroorAlam Khan, Adv. for the
                                       complainant.
         CORAM:
            HON'BLE MR. JUSTICE KAILASH GAMBHIR
              ORDER  :  22.05.2013
1. By this application filed under Section 438 Cr.P.C. the petitioner seeks grant of anticipatory bail.
2. The petitioner herein is accused of committing the offence under Sections 376/506/328 IPC in FIR No. 39/2013 registered with PS Rani Bagh. As per the prosecuterix, Ms.Rupali Thakur it is alleged that she had an affair with the petitioner, RohitChauhan for the last 3 years and during this period the petitioner had physical intimacy with her on the promise that he would marry her.
3. As per the complainant, who is present in court, the petitioner took the Bail Appn. 311/2013 Page 1 complainant to his house at Rishhi Nagar, Rani Baghon 14.2.2010 on the pretext of introducing her to his mother, but since there was no one present in his house, he forcibly had physical relationship with her. It is also the case of the prosecutrix, that when she tried to shout, then the petitioner daunted her that he would kill her and defame her and at the same time he asked her not to worry as he loved her and would marry her butif in case she discloses the said relationship to anyone then the petitioner would harm himself physically. It is also the case of the prosecutrix that the petitioner also gave certain pills to her so that she would not conceive. It is further alleged by the prosecutrix that the petitioner also threatened to kill her family members and to show her obscene videos to her parents and upload the same on 'YouTube', if she dared to refuse to maintain physical relations with him. It is also the case of the prosecuterix, that on 9.7.2012, the petitioner administered some drug in her cold drink, which she drank and again was forced to have physical relations with him. It is also the case of the prosecuterix that on 13.7.2012, she filed a complaint at Police Station, Shalimar Bagh which was later transferred to Police Station Rani Bagh, where the petitioner and his family members were called by the police and they gave assurance that they will arrange the marriage of the petitioner with the complainant only if the complainant withdraws the said complaint. As per the complainant, the marriage was solemnized at AryaSamajMandir, Bail Appn. 311/2013 Page 2 HaritVihar, Burari, Delhi on 10th August, 2012, where the family of the petitioner i.e. his mother Kiran, brother Kitty, cousin brother Vishnu Yadav, petitioner's MassiPoonam, petitioner's other Massa and Massi were all present. It is also the case of the prosecutrix that after the solemnisation of the said marriage, the petitioner did not take her to his house even for a day and rather after two days of marriage, the petitioner and his family members took the prosecutrix to AryaSamajMandir, beat her and forcibly took her signatures on one paper for dissolving the said marriage. It is also the case of the prosecuterix that after the marriage, the petitioner and his family members visited her locality several times and abused her besides creating nuisance outside her house. It is also the case of the prosecuterix that her sister was also threatened whenever she used to go to her school. It is also the case of the prosecuterix that on 3.11.2012, she again made a complaint against the petitioner and his family members in Police Station Shalimar Bagh, and when they were called by the police, they had demanded for one flat and Rs. 20 lakhs if the prosecutrix wanted to live with them. Thereafter, a complaint was filed by the prosecutrix with the Crime Against Women Cell, Maurya Enclave, so as to pursue her complaint dated 13th July, 2012.

4. Advancing the arguments on behalf of the petitioner, Mr. B.S. Rana, Advocate, submits that the petitioner was abducted from his residence on 9.8.2012 at about 9 p.m. and he was severely beaten by the police in the Bail Appn. 311/2013 Page 3 police station and was taken to AryaSamajMandir, HaritVihar, Burari, Delhi, where he was forced to solemnize the aforesaid marriage with the complainant. To support his arguments counsel for the petitioner placed reliance on some of the photographs placed on record wherein the petitioner can be seen in a track suit and some police officials taking photographs of the marriage from his mobile. It is also the case of the petitioner that the complainant extorted a sum of Rs. 2.50 lakhs form the petitioner and his family for getting the said marriage dissolvedand vide settlement deed dated 10th August, 2012, which was duly signed by both the parties and their relatives, the said marriage was declared null and void. It is also the case of the petitioner that on 22nd January, 2013, the mother of the petitioner lodged a complaint with the Commissioner of Police to bring correct facts to the knowledge of the police, as to how the petitioner was forced to marry the prosecutrix and how he was blackmailed to pay the said amount of Rs. 2.50 lakhs to the prosecutrix. It is also the case of the petitioner that when the mother of the petitioner lodged a complaint, it is only thereafter that the respondent got the said case registered against the petitioner on 30th January, 2013. Counsel for the petitioner further submits that the petitioner and the complainant were known to each other for the last three years and during that period, both of them startedloving each other and the physical intimacy shared by both of them was consensual and therefore, there is no question of the Bail Appn. 311/2013 Page 4 petitioner ever raping the complainant. Counsel also submits that the petitioner had already filed a civil suit to seek decree of declaration to declare the said marriage as null and void and the said suit is pending disposal before the civil Court. Counsel furtherstates that after solemnization of the said marriage the complainant lodged a complaint against the petitioner after a gap of almost 3 years.
5. Counsel for the petitioner further submits that the complainant never challenged the said deed of cancellation of marriage and the said complaint was lodged by the prosecutrix only with a view to extort more money from the petitioner and his family. During the course of the arguments, counsel for the petitioner has also placed on record certain photographs indicating as to how advance the complainant is. Counsel further submits that the photographs make it apparent that the prosecutrix can be seen dressed inappropriately, having beer while sitting next to some boy. It could also be seen that she is lighting cigarette for him.
6. Based on the above submissions, counsel for the petitioner submits that the petitioner has been falsely implicated by the respondent in the present case.
7. The present bail application of the petitioner has been strongly opposed by Mr Navin Sharmalearned APP for the State duly assisted by the counsel representing the complainant. Mr Navin Sharma submits that the petitioner sexually exploited the prosecutrix on the assurance of marrying Bail Appn. 311/2013 Page 5 her although he never intended to do so. Counsel also submits that there are specific allegations levelled by the complainant against the petitioner, forcing the complainant to have sexual relations with her and on many occasions he even threatened to kill her and defame her. On one occasion he even mixed some drug in her cold drink and thereafter, shared physical intimacy with her. He also blackmailed the complainant that he would upload her pictures/ videos on the 'YouTube' if she refused to maintain sexual relations with him. Counsel further submits that the petitioner was never forced to marry the complainant but the police officials were deployed by the area SHO in civil uniform to ensure that no untoward incident takes place at the time of solemnization of the marriage. Counsel also submits that the petitioner has forged and fabricated the deed of divorce dated 11th August, 2012 as on enquiry it was found that the said divorce deed was never notarized by SaritaGarg, Advocate. Counsel also submits that as per the complaint dated 22.1.2013 filed by the mother of the petitioner to the SHO Shalimar Bagh, the prosecutrix left for Jaipur immediately on the following day of the said marriage and she had returned to Delhi after 3 days. Counsel for the State further submits that if as per the mother of the petitioner she was at Jaipur on the following day of her marriage then how could she have signed a divorce deed and got the same attested from the notary.
8. I have heard learned counsel for the parties at considerable length and Bail Appn. 311/2013 Page 6 given my anxious consideration to the arguments advanced by them. Before I proceed to decide the aforesaid bail application, it would be pertinent to discuss some recent judgments in the said context.

9. The judgment of the Apex Court, in the case of Deepak Gulati V. State of Haryana,Criminal Appeal No. 2322/2010, the Hon'ble Supreme Court while dealing with an appeal filed by the appellant convicted for the offence punishable under Sections 365 and 376 of the Indian Penal Code, 1806, held as under:-
"14. The undisputed facts of the case are as under: I. The prosecutrix was 19 years of age at the time of the said incident.
II. She had inclination towards the appellant, and had willingly gone with him to Kurukshetra to get married. III. The appellant had been giving her assurance of the fact that he would get married to her.
IV. The physical relationship between the parties had clearly developed with the consent of the prosecutrix, as there was neither a case of any resistance, nor had she raised any complaint anywhere at any time despite the fact that she had been living with the appellant for several days, and had travelled with him from one place to another. V. Even after leaving the hostel of Kurukshetra University, she agreed and proceeded to go with the appellant to Ambala, to get married to him there.
18. Consent may be express or implied, coerced or misguided, obtained willingly or through deceit. Consent is an act of reason, accompanied by deliberation, the mind weighing, as in a balance, the good and evil on each side. There is a clear distinction between rape and consensual sex and in a case like this, the court must very carefully examine whether the accused had actually wanted to marry the victim, or had mala fide motives, and had made a false promise to this effect only to satisfy his lust, as the latter falls within the ambit of cheating or deception. There is a distinction between the mere breach of a promise, and not fulfilling a false promise.
Bail Appn. 311/2013 Page 7
21. Hence, it is evident that there must be adequate evidence to show that at the relevant time, i.e. at initial stage itself, the accused had no intention whatsoever, of keeping his promise to marry the victim. There may, of course, be circumstances, when a person having the best of intentions is unable to marry the victim owing to various unavoidable circumstances. The "failure to keep a promise made with respect to a future uncertain date, due to reasons that are not very clear from the evidence available, does not always amount to misconception of fact. In order to come within the meaning of the term misconception of fact, the fact must have an immediate relevance." Section 90 IPC cannot be called into aid in such a situation, to pardon the act of a girl in entirety, and fasten criminal liability on the other, unless the court is assured of the fact that from the very beginning, the accused had never really intended to marry her.
22. The instant case is factually very similar to the case of Uday (Supra), wherein the following facts were found to exist:
I. The prosecutrix was 19 years of age and had adequate intelligence and maturity to understand the significance and morality associated with the act she was consenting to. II. She was conscious of the fact that her marriage may not take place owing to various considerations, including the caste factor.
III. It was difficult to impute to the accused, knowledge of the fact that the prosecutrix had consented as a consequence of a misconception of fact that had arisen from his promise to marry her.
IV. There was no evidence to prove conclusively, that the appellant had never intended to marry the prosecutrix.
23. To conclude, the prosecutrix had left her home voluntarily, of her own free will to get married to the appellant. She was 19 years of age at the relevant time and was, hence, capable of understanding the complications and issues surrounding her marriage to the appellant. According to the version of events provided by her, the prosecutrix had called the appellant on a number given to her by him, to ask him why he had not met her at the place that had been pre-
decided by them. She also waited for him for a long time, and when he finally arrived she went with him to the Karnalake where they indulged in sexual intercourse. She did not raise any objection at this stage and made no complaints to anyone. Thereafter, she also went to Kurukshetra with the appellant, where she lived with his relatives. Here to, the prosecutrix voluntarily became intimate with the appellant. She then, for some reason, went to live in the hostel at Kurukshetra University illegally, Bail Appn. 311/2013 Page 8 and once again came into contact with the appellant at the Birla Mandir. Thereafter, she even proceeded with the appellant to the old bus-stand in Kurukshetra, to leave for Ambala so that the two of them could get married in court at Ambala. However, here they were apprehended by the police.

24. If the prosecutrix was in fact going to Ambala to marry the appellant, as stands fully established from the evidence on record, we fail to understand on what basis the allegation of "false promise of marriage" has been raised by the prosecutrix. We also fail to comprehend the circumstances in which a charge of deceit/rape can be leveled against the appellant, in light of the afore-mentioned fact situation."\
10.While dealing with the anticipatory bail application of an accused of committing the same offence, this Court in the case of Mohd. Iqbal V. State , Bail Application no. 2145 of 2009, held as under:-
"There is an old Jewish saying "if you are close when you should be distant, you will be distant when you should be close". It is for both man and woman to restrain themselves and not to indulge in intimate activities prior to the marriage. Undoubtedly it is responsibility, moral & ethical, both, on the part of men not to exploit any woman by extending false promise or through devious acts to force or induce the girl for sexual relationship. But ultimately, it is woman herself who is the protector of her own body. Promise to marry may or may not culminate into marriage. It is the prime responsibility of the woman in the relationship or even otherwise to protect her honour, dignity and modesty. A woman should not throw herself to a man and indulge in promiscuity, becoming source of hilarity. It is for her to maintain her purity, chastity and virtues"
11. In another bail application No. 1760 of 2012 dealing with the same offence, this Court held as under:-
"Rape is one of the most barbaric and heinous crimes not only against the victim of the rape but also against the society as a whole. The cases of rape, gang rape and digital rape are on increase and perpetrators of this inhuman and brutal crime are worse than even the beasts and deserve to be dealt with a heavy hand. The entire country is seriously debating this issue and there are proposals coming forth Bail Appn. 311/2013 Page 9 that death penalty should be the answer to deal with the accused involved in such heinous crime. Having said this, I am also constrained to observe here that no one should be allowed to trivialise the gravity of offence by misusing the same as a weapon for vengeance or vendetta."
12.It is appalling to see that rape rears its ugly facade almost every day. As per the National Crime Record Bureau, in India, a rape is committed every 20 minutes. Rape being the fastest growing crime is undoubtedly one of the most deplorable, belligerent and atrociousact committed against the dignity of a woman. Rape has been held to be even more serious than murderwhich not only destroysthe woman physically but also shatters her innerself by destroying her each living moment emotionally and psychologically.
13. Rape is a crime against one's mind, psyche and reputation. Rape leaves a permanent scar on the life of the victim and it becomes horrendous for the victim of rape to lead a dignified and well respected life in the society. It is very unfortunate that there is a high increase in the rape instances and ravenous maniacs are not even sparing the girls of a very tender age. Some of the recent rape cases have been so horrifying that the entire nation protestedto condemn these barbaric acts and raised a voice to curb the said menace by inflicting more severe punishment. The Government also promptly appointed Justice J.S. Verma Committee to review laws on crimes against women, which recommended certain dramatic changes in the Criminal law relating to offences against women.

Bail Appn. 311/2013 Page 10
14.Undoubtedly there is a manifold increase in the crime concerning rapes, but all the rape cases which are filed have their own individual story and factual matrix. While most of the cases may be genuine, wherein the girl is a victim of this horrifying crime, or has been forced, blackmailed, threatened to enter into physical relationship with a male on the false pretext of marriage with the sole intent to physically exploit the girl but there may be cases where both persons out of their own will and choice, develop a physical relationship. Many of the cases are being reported by those women who have consensual physical relationship with a man but when the relationship breaks due to one or the other reason, the women use the law as a weapon for vengeance and personal vendetta to extort money and sometimes even to force the boy to get married to her. Out of anger and frustration, they tend to convert such consensual sex as an incident of rape, defeating the very purpose of the provision. There is a clear demarcation between rape and consensual sex and in cases where such controversies are involved, the court must very cautiously examine the intentions of both the individuals involved and to check if even the girl on the other hand is genuine or had malafide motives. Cases like these not only make mockery of the sacred institution of marriage but also inflate the statistics of rape cases which further deprecates our own society.
15. In the facts of the present case, here is a complainant who appears to be quite an ultra-modern lady with an open outlook towards life, enjoying alcohol in the company of menwhich is evident from the photographs placed on record, which have not been denied by the prosecutrix present in court.She does not appear to be such a vulnerable lady that she would not raise her voice on being immensely exploited over such a long period of time. As per the prosecutrix, she had a physical relationship with the petitioner for the last more than 2 ½ years and it is not just a single act of sharing physical intimacy but the same continued for almost a long period of three years. There lies a possibility that the petitioner might have then refused to marry the prosecutrix and this refusal on the part of the petitioner gave a serious jolt to the prosecutrix who then with the help of police, solemnized the marriage with him, in the wee hours of the night when petitioner was in his casual apparels(track suit). It is only on 30.01.2013, that the complainant raised her voicefor the first time and made allegations of rape against the petitioner. It is an admitted case that the said marriage ultimately did not consummate as the complainant was never brought to the matrimonial home and the petitioner has already filed a civil suit to seek decree of declaration for declaring the said marriage as null and void.
16.The court can also not be oblivious of the fact that the marriage between the complainant and the petitioner had indeed taken place and both the parties have not disputed this fact. Therefore, this circumstance by itself entitles the petitioner to the grant of the anticipatory bail. We are not commenting here upon the circumstances which led to the solemnisation of the said marriage as there is a civil suit already pending before the court.It would be worthwhile to mention that being the victim of such a reprehensible crime, one should lodge a complaint immediately, or within a reasonable period of time unless there are sufficient reasons to explain the long delay. Delay in lodging an FIR, in such like cases can ultimately diminish the chances of conviction, as due to such delay, the medical evidence and the other circumstantial evidence may rarely be available to support the case of prosecution.
17.It is a settled position of law, that every case is to be dealt based on its individual factual matrix and no set principle or straight jacket formula can be applied specifically while dealing with bail matters where only prima facie view can be taken to appreciate the facts in a given case.
18. Considering the facts of the present case, in light of the aforesaid discussion and the material on record, I am inclined to grant anticipatory bail to the petitioner. Accordingly in the event of arrest, the petitioner shall be released on bail subject to furnishing of his personal bonds in the Bail Appn. 311/2013 Page 13 sum of Rs. 50,000 with one surety of the like amount to the satisfaction of the arresting officer.

19. It is directed that the petitioner and his family members shall not visit the prosecutrix or try to intimidate her.
20. The present anticipatory bail application stands disposed of. It is ordered accordingly.
Dasti.
                                                    KAILASH GAMBHIR, J
MAY     22, 2013





Thursday, 27 July 2017

Misuse of sec.498-A IPC Dowry Laws in India Supreme Court Judgments.

Misuse of sec.498-A IPC Dowry Laws in India Supreme Court Judgments.

. Thus, after careful consideration of the whole issue, we consider it fit to give following directions :-

i) (a) In every district one or more Family Welfare Committees be constituted by the District Legal Services Authorities preferably comprising of three members. The constitution and working of such committees may be reviewed from time to time and at least once in a year by the District and Sessions Judge of the district who is also the Chairman of the District Legal Services Authority.

 (b) The Committees may be constituted out of para legal volunteers/social workers/retired persons/wives of working officers/other citizens who may be found suitable and willing.

 (c) The Committee members will not be called as witnesses.

 (d) Every complaint under Section 498A received by the police or the Magistrate be referred to and looked into by such committee. Such committee may have interaction with the parties personally or by means of telephone or any other mode of communication including electronic communication.

 (e) Report of such committee be given to the Authority by whom the complaint is referred to it latest within one month from the date of receipt of complaint.

 (f) The committee may give its brief report about the factual aspects and its opinion in the matter.

 (g) Till report of the committee is received, no arrest should normally be effected.

 (h) The report may be then considered by the Investigating Officer or the Magistrate on its own merit.

(i) Members of the committee may be given such basic minimum training as may be considered necessary by the Legal Services Authority from time to time.

 (j) The Members of the committee may be given such honorarium as may be considered viable.

 (k) It will be open to the District and Sessions Judge to utilize the cost fund wherever considered necessary and proper.

 ii) Complaints under Section 498A and other connected offences may be investigated only by a designated Investigating Officer of the area. Such designations may be made within one month from today. Such designated officer may be required to undergo training for such duration (not less than one week) as may be considered appropriate. The 18 training may be completed within four months from today;

 iii) In cases where a settlement is reached, it will be open to the District and Sessions Judge or any other senior Judicial Officer nominated by him in the district to dispose of the proceedings including closing of the criminal case if dispute primarily relates to matrimonial discord;

 iv) If a bail application is filed with at least one clear day’s notice to the Public Prosecutor/complainant, the same may be decided as far as possible on the same day. Recovery of disputed dowry items may not by itself be a ground for denial of bail if maintenance or other rights of wife/minor children can otherwise be protected. Needless to say that in dealing with bail matters, individual roles, prima facie truth of the allegations, requirement of further arrest/ custody and interest of justice must be carefully weighed;

 v) In respect of persons ordinarily residing out of India impounding of passports or issuance of Red Corner Notice should not be a routine;

 vi) It will be open to the District Judge or a designated senior judicial officer nominated by the District Judge to club all connected cases between the parties arising out of matrimonial disputes so that a holistic view is taken by the Court to whom all such cases are entrusted; and

 vii) Personal appearance of all family members and particularly outstation members may not be required and the trial court ought to grant exemption from personal appearance or permit appearance by video conferencing without adversely affecting progress of the trial.

 viii) These directions will not apply to the offences involving tangible physical injuries or death.

 After seeing the working of the above arrangement for six months but latest by March 31, 2018, National Legal Services 20 Authority may give a report about need for any change in above directions or for any further directions. The matter may be listed for consideration by the Court in April, 2018. 21. Copies of this order be sent to National Legal Services Authority, Director General of Police of all the States and the Registrars of all the High Courts for further appropriate action. 22. It will be open to the parties in the present case to approach the concerned trial or other court for further orders in the light of the above directions


1 REPORTABLE
 IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
 CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
 CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 1265 OF 2017
[Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Crl.) No.2013 of 2017]
Rajesh Sharma & ors. …Appellants Versus State of U.P. & Anr. …Respondents
J U D G M E N T
 Adarsh Kumar Goel, J
Leave granted.
 2. The question which has arisen in this appeal is whether any directions are called for to prevent the misuse of Section 498A, as acknowledged in certain studies and decisions. The Court requested Shri A.S. Nadkarni, learned ASG and Shri V.V. Giri, learned senior counsel to assist the Court as amicus. We place on record our gratitude for the assistance rendered by learned ASG Shri Nadkarni and learned senior counsel Shri Giri who in turn was 2 ably assisted by advocates Ms. Uttara Babbar, Ms. Pragya Baghel and Ms. Svadha Shanker.

 3. Proceedings have arisen from complaint dated 2nd December, 2013 filed by respondent No.2 wife of appellant No.1. Appellants 2 to 5 are the parents and siblings of appellant No.1. The complainant alleged that she was married to appellant No.1 on 28th November, 2012. Her father gave dowry as per his capacity but the appellants were not happy with the extent of the dowry. They started abusing the complainant. They made a demand of dowry of Rs.3,00,000/- and a car which the family could not arrange. On 10th November, 2013, appellant No.1 dropped the complainant at her matrimonial home. She was pregnant and suffered pain in the process and her pregnancy was terminated. On the said version, and further version that her stridhan was retained, appellant No.1 was summoned under Section 498A and Section 323 IPC. Appellants 2 to 5 were not summoned. Order dated 14th July, 2014 read as follows:
 “After perusal of the file and the document brought on record. It is clear that the husband Shri Rajesh Sharma demanded car and three lacs rupees and in not meeting the demand. It appears that he has tortured the complainant. 3
 So far as torture and retaining of the stri dhan and demanding 50,000 and a gold chain and in not meeting the demand the torture is attributable against Shri Rajesh Sharma. Rajesh Sharma appears to be main accused. In the circumstances, rest of the accused Vijay Sharma, Jaywati Sharma, Praveen Sharma and Priyanka Sharma have not committed any crime and they have not participated in commission of the crime. Whereas, it appears that Rajesh Sharma has committed an offence under Section 498A, 323 IPC and read with section 3 / 4 DP act appears to have prima facie made out. Therefore, a summon be issued against him.”

 4. Against the above order, respondent No.2 preferred a revision petition and submitted that appellants 2 to 5 should also have been summoned. The said petition was accepted by the Additional Sessions Judge, Jaunpur vide order dated 3rd July, 2015. The trial court was directed to take a fresh decision in the matter. Thereafter, the trial court vide order dated 18th August, 2015 summoned appellants 2 to 5 also. The appellants approached the High Court under Section 482 CrPC against the order of summoning. Though the matter was referred to the mediation centre, the mediation failed. Thereafter, the High Court found no ground to interfere with the order of summoning and dismissed the petition. Hence this appeal. 4

 5. Main contention raised in support of this appeal is that there is need to check the tendency to rope in all family members to settle a matrimonial dispute. Omnibus allegations against all relatives of the husband cannot be taken at face value when in normal course it may only be the husband or at best his parents who may be accused of demanding dowry or causing cruelty. To check abuse of over implication, clear supporting material is needed to proceed against other relatives of a husband. It is stated that respondent No.2 herself left the matrimonial home. Appellant No.2, father of appellant No.1, is a retired government employee. Appellant No.3 is a house wife. Appellant No.4 is unmarried brother and appellant No.5 is unmarried sister who is a government employee. Appellants 2 to 5 had no interest in making any demand of dowry.

 6. Learned counsel for respondent No.2 supported the impugned order and the averments in the complaint.

 7. Learned ASG submitted that Section 498A was enacted to check unconscionable demands by greedy husbands and their 5 families which at times result in cruelty to women and also suicides. He, however, accepted that there is a growing tendency to abuse the said provision to rope in all the relatives including parents of advanced age, minor children, siblings, grand-parents and uncles on the strength of vague and exaggerated allegations without there being any verifiable evidence of physical or mental harm or injury. At times, this results in harassment and even arrest of innocent family members, including women and senior citizens. This may hamper any possible reconciliation and reunion of a couple. Reference has been made to the statistics from the Crime Records Bureau (CRB) as follows: “
 That according to Reports of National Crime Record Bureau in 2005, for a total 58,319 cases reported under Section 498A IPC, a total of 1,27,560 people were arrested, and 6,141 cases were declared false on account of mistake of fact or law.
 While in 2009 for a total 89,546 cases reported, a total of 1,74,395 people were arrested and 8,352 cases were declared false on account of mistake of fact or law.
 10. That according to Report of Crime in India, 2012 Statistics, National Crime Records Bureau, Ministry of Home Affairs showed that for the year of 2012, a total of 197,762 people all across India were arrested under Section 498A, Indian Penal Code. The Report further shows that approximately a quarter of those arrested were women that is 47,951 of the total were perhaps mother or sisters of the husband. However 6 most surprisingly the rate of charge-sheet filing for the year 2012, under Section 498A IPC was at an exponential height of 93.6% while the conviction rate was at a staggering low at 14.4% only. The Report stated that as many as 3,72,706 cases were pending trial of which 3,17,000 were projected to be acquitted.
 11. That according to Report of Crime in India, 2013, the National Crime Records Bureau further pointed out that of 4,66,079 cases that were pending in the start of 2013, only 7,258 were convicted while 38,165 were acquitted and 8,218 were withdrawn. The conviction rate of cases registered under Section 498A IPC was also a staggering low at 15.6%.”

 8. Referring to Sushil Kumar Sharma versus Union of India1 , Preeti Gupta versus State of Jharkhand2 , Ramgopal versus State of Madhya Pradesh3 , Savitri Devi versus Ramesh Chand4 , it was submitted that misuse of the provision is judicially acknowledged and there is need to adopt measures to prevent such misuse. The Madras High Court in M.P. No.1 of 2008 in Cr. O.P. No.1089 of 2008 dated 4th August, 2008 directed issuance of following guidelines: “It must also be borne in mind that the object behind the enactment of Section 498-A IPC and the Dowry Prohibition 1 (2005) 6 SCC 281 2 (2010) 7 SCC 667 3 (2010) 13 SCC 540 4 ILR (2003) I Delhi 484 7 Act is to check and curb the menace of dowry and at the same time, to save the matrimonial homes from destruction. Our experience shows that, apart from the husband, all family members are implicated and dragged to the police stations. Though arrest of those persons is not at all necessary, in a number of cases, such harassment is made simply to satisfy the ego and anger of the complainant. By suitably dealing with such matters, the injury to innocents could be avoided to a considerable extent by the Magistrates, but, if the Magistrates themselves accede to the bare requests of the police without examining the actual state of affairs, it would create negative effects thereby, the very purpose of the legislation would be defeated and the doors of conciliation would be closed forever. The husband and his family members may have difference of opinion in the dispute, for which, arrest and judicial remand are not the answers. The ultimate object of every legal system is to punish the guilty and protect the innocents.”

 9. Delhi High Court vide order dated 4th August, 2008 in Chander Bhan versus State5 in Bail Application No.1627/2008 directed issuance of following guidelines : “2. Police Authorities: (a) Pursuant to directions given by the Apex Court, the Commissioner of Police, Delhi vide Standing Order No.330/2007 had already issued guidelines for arrest in the dowry cases registered under Sections 498-A/406 IPC and the said guidelines should be followed by the Delhi Police strictly and scrupulously. (i) No case under Section 498-A/406 IPC should be registered without the prior approval of DCP/Addl.DCP. (ii) Arrest of main accused should be made only after thorough investigation has been conducted and with the prior approval of the ACP/DCP. 5 (2008) 151 DLT 691 8 (iii) Arrest of the collateral accused such as father-in-law, mother-in-law, brother-in-law or sister-in-law etc. should only be made after prior approval of DCP on file. (b) Police should also depute a well trained and a well behaved staff in all the crime against women cells especially the lady officers, all well equipped with the abilities of perseverance, persuasion, patience and forbearance. (c) FIR in such cases should not be registered in a routine manner. (d) The endavour of the Police should be to scrutinize complaints very carefully and then register FIR. (e) The FIR should be registered only against those persons against whom there are strong allegations of causing any kind of physical or mental cruelty as well as breach of trust. (f) All possible efforts should be made, before recommending registration of any FIR, for reconciliation and in case it is found that there is no possibility of settlement, then necessary steps in the first instance be taken to ensure return of stridhan and dowry articles etc. by the accused party to the complainant.”

 10. In Arnesh Kumar versus State of Bihar6 , this Court directed as follows : “11.1All the State Governments to instruct its police officers not to automatically arrest when a case under Section 498-A of 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; 11.2 All police officers be provided with a check list containing specified sub-clauses under Section 41(1)(b)(ii); 6 (2014) 8 SCC 273 9 11.3 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; 11.4 The Magistrate while authorizing 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 authorize detention; 11.5 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; 11.6 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; 11.7 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. 11.8 Authorising detention without recording reasons as aforesaid by the judicial Magistrate concerned shall be liable for departmental action by the appropriate High Court.” 

 11. Learned ASG suggested that there must be some preliminary inquiry on the lines of observations in Lalita Kumari versus Government of Uttar Pradesh7 . Arrest of a relative other than husband could only be after permission from the concerned Magistrate. There should be no arrest of relatives aged above 70 years. Power of the police to straight away arrest must be prohibited. While granting permission, the court must ascertain that there is prima facie material of the accused having done some overt and covert act. The offence should be made compoundable and bailable. The role of each accused must be specified in the complaint and the complaint must be accompanied by a signed affidavit. The copy of the preliminary enquiry report should be furnished to the accused.
 12. Shri V. Giri, learned senior counsel assisted by advocates Ms. Uttara Babbar, Ms. Pragya Baghel and Ms. Svadha Shanker submitted that arrest in an offence under Section 498A should be only after recording reasons and express approval from the Superintendent of Police. In respect of relatives who are ordinarily residing outside India, the matter should proceed only if 7 (2014) 2 SCC 1 11 the IO is convinced that arrest is necessary for fair investigation. In such cases impounding of passport or issuance of red corner notice should be avoided. Procedure under Section 14 of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, of counseling should be made mandatory before registration of a case under Section 498A.

13. We have given serious consideration to the rival submissions as well as suggestions made by learned ASG and Shri V. Giri, Senior Advocate assisted by Advocates Ms. Uttara Babbar, Ms. Pragya Baghel and Ms. Svadha Shanker. We have also perused 243rd Law Commission Report (August, 2012), 140th Report of the Rajya Sabha Committee on Petition (September, 2011) as well as several decisions to which our attention has been invited.

 14. Section 498A was inserted in the statute with the laudable object of punishing cruelty at the hands of husband or his relatives against a wife particularly when such cruelty had potential to result in suicide or murder of a woman as mentioned in the Statement of Objects and Reasons of the Act 46 of 1983. 12 The expression ‘cruelty’ in Section 498A covers conduct which may drive the women to commit suicide or cause grave injury (mental or physical) or danger to life or harassment with a view to coerce her to meet unlawful demand.8 It is a matter of serious concern that large number of cases continue to be filed under Section 498A alleging harassment of married women. We have already referred to some of the statistics from the Crime Records Bureau. This Court had earlier noticed the fact that most of such complaints are filed in the heat of the moment over trivial issues. Many of such complaints are not bona fide. At the time of filing of the complaint, implications and consequences are not visualized. At times such complaints lead to uncalled for harassment not only to the accused but also to the complainant. Uncalled for arrest may ruin the chances of settlement. This Court had earlier observed that a serious review of the provision was warranted9 . The matter also appears to have been considered by the Law Commission, the Malimath Committee, the Committee on Petitions in the Rajya Sabha, the Home Ministry, which have been referred to in the earlier part of the Judgment. The abuse of the 8 Explanation to Section 498A 9 Preeti Gupta (supra) 13 provision was also noted in the judgments of this Court referred to earlier. Some High Courts have issued directions to check such abuse. In Arnesh Kumar (supra) this Court gave directions to safeguard uncalled for arrests. Recommendation has also been made by the Law Commission to make the offence compoundable.
 15. Following areas appear to require remedial steps :- i) Uncalled for implication of husband and his relatives and arrest. ii) Continuation of proceedings in spite of settlement between the parties since the offence is non-compoundable and uncalled for hardship to parties on that account.

 16. Function of this Court is not to legislate but only to interpret the law. No doubt in doing so laying down of norms is sometimes unavoidable.10 Just and fair procedure being part of fundamental right to life,11 interpretation is required to be placed on a penal provision so that its working is not unjust, unfair or unreasonable. The court has incidental power to quash even a 10 Sahara India Real Estate Corporation Limited v. Securities and Exchange Board of India (2012) 10 SCC 603- para 52, SCBA v. Union of India (1998) 4 SCC 409- para 47, Union of India vs. Raghubir Singh (d) by Lrs. (1989) 2 SCC 754- para 7, Dayaram vs. Sudhir Batham (2012) 1 SCC 333 11 State of Punjab vs. Dalbir Singh (2012) 3 SCC 346- para 46,52 & 85, (2014) 4 SCC 453- para-21 14 non-compoundable case of private nature, if continuing the proceedings is found to be oppressive.12 While stifling a legitimate prosecution is against public policy, if the proceedings in an offence of private nature are found to be oppressive, power of quashing is exercised.

17. We have considered the background of the issue and also taken into account the 243rd Report of the Law Commission dated 30th August, 2012, 140th Report of the Rajya Sabha Committee on Petitions (September, 2011) and earlier decisions of this Court. We are conscious of the object for which the provision was brought into the statute. At the same time, violation of human rights of innocent cannot be brushed aside. Certain safeguards against uncalled for arrest or insensitive investigation have been addressed by this Court. Still, the problem continues to a great extent.
 18. To remedy the situation, we are of the view that involvement of civil society in the aid of administration of justice can be one of the steps, apart from the investigating officers and the concerned 12 Gian Singh vs. State of Punjab (2012) 10 SCC 303- para-61, (2014) 5 SCC 364- para -14 15 trial courts being sensitized. It is also necessary to facilitate closure of proceedings where a genuine settlement has been reached instead of parties being required to move High Court only for that purpose.

 19. Thus, after careful consideration of the whole issue, we consider it fit to give following directions :-
i) (a) In every district one or more Family Welfare Committees be constituted by the District Legal Services Authorities preferably comprising of three members. The constitution and working of such committees may be reviewed from time to time and at least once in a year by the District and Sessions Judge of the district who is also the Chairman of the District Legal Services Authority.
 (b) The Committees may be constituted out of para legal volunteers/social workers/retired persons/wives of working officers/other citizens who may be found suitable and willing.
 (c) The Committee members will not be called as witnesses.
 (d) Every complaint under Section 498A received by the police or the Magistrate be referred to and looked into by such committee. Such committee may have interaction with the parties personally or by means of telephone or any other mode of communication including electronic communication.
 (e) Report of such committee be given to the Authority by whom the complaint is referred to it latest within one month from the date of receipt of complaint.
 (f) The committee may give its brief report about the factual aspects and its opinion in the matter.
 (g) Till report of the committee is received, no arrest should normally be effected.
 (h) The report may be then considered by the Investigating Officer or the Magistrate on its own merit.
(i) Members of the committee may be given such basic minimum training as may be considered necessary by the Legal Services Authority from time to time.
 (j) The Members of the committee may be given such honorarium as may be considered viable.
 (k) It will be open to the District and Sessions Judge to utilize the cost fund wherever considered necessary and proper.
 ii) Complaints under Section 498A and other connected offences may be investigated only by a designated Investigating Officer of the area. Such designations may be made within one month from today. Such designated officer may be required to undergo training for such duration (not less than one week) as may be considered appropriate. The 18 training may be completed within four months from today;
 iii) In cases where a settlement is reached, it will be open to the District and Sessions Judge or any other senior Judicial Officer nominated by him in the district to dispose of the proceedings including closing of the criminal case if dispute primarily relates to matrimonial discord;
 iv) If a bail application is filed with at least one clear day’s notice to the Public Prosecutor/complainant, the same may be decided as far as possible on the same day. Recovery of disputed dowry items may not by itself be a ground for denial of bail if maintenance or other rights of wife/minor children can otherwise be protected. Needless to say that in dealing with bail matters, individual roles, prima facie truth of the allegations, requirement of further arrest/ custody and interest of justice must be carefully weighed;
 v) In respect of persons ordinarily residing out of India impounding of passports or issuance of Red Corner Notice should not be a routine;
 vi) It will be open to the District Judge or a designated senior judicial officer nominated by the District Judge to club all connected cases between the parties arising out of matrimonial disputes so that a holistic view is taken by the Court to whom all such cases are entrusted; and
 vii) Personal appearance of all family members and particularly outstation members may not be required and the trial court ought to grant exemption from personal appearance or permit appearance by video conferencing without adversely affecting progress of the trial.
 viii) These directions will not apply to the offences involving tangible physical injuries or death.
 20. After seeing the working of the above arrangement for six months but latest by March 31, 2018, National Legal Services 20 Authority may give a report about need for any change in above directions or for any further directions. The matter may be listed for consideration by the Court in April, 2018. 21. Copies of this order be sent to National Legal Services Authority, Director General of Police of all the States and the Registrars of all the High Courts for further appropriate action. 22. It will be open to the parties in the present case to approach the concerned trial or other court for further orders in the light of the above directions

. …………………………………….J. (Adarsh Kumar Goel)
…………………………………….J. (Uday Umesh Lalit)
New Delhi;