How Can Guidelines Be Issued When There Is An IPC Provision? SC On its Section 498A Guidelines

How Can Guidelines Be Issued When There Is An IPC Provision? SC On its Section 498A Guidelines

The Supreme Court, on Wednesday, expressed qualms over the correctness of its judgment in the case of Rajesh Sharma v. Union of India, wherein it had issued a new set of guidelines to prevent misuse of Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code.

The Bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud questioned the necessity of such guidelines when there is an IPC provision dealing with the issue. Amicus Curiae V. Shekhar and Indu Malhotra also agreed with the Bench. The matter will now be heard in the third week of January.

A two-Judge Bench of the Apex Court had, in July this year, issued a slew of directions for checking bogus 498A complaints, while noting, "It is a matter of serious concern that large number of cases continue to be filed under Section 498A alleging harassment of married women. 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 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."

The Court is now hearing a PIL filed by the NGO Nyayadhar, which seeks a direction to include two women members in the Family Welfare Committee which is supposed to be formed in view of the Court's directions.

The Court had, however, last month, said that it was not in agreement with the guidelines issued by the two-Judge Bench and had opined, "We can’t write law. We can only interpret the law." Since then, there has been a looming possibility of the judgment in Rajesh Sharma's case being overturned.

However, despite this, the Delhi State Legal Services Authority (DSLSA) has constituted three-member Family Welfare Committees in all 11 districts in Delhi. All these Committees are now functional and comprise a chairperson and two members. In view of the SC judgment, all complaints of dowry death, harassment or domestic violence made before the Police or the Magistrate would now be referred to these Committees.