The Delhi State Legal Services Authority (DSLSA) has constituted three-member family welfare committees in all 11 districts in Delhi even as an apex court bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra has decided to relook into its division bench judgment which had issued guidelines to form such committees to check abuse of Section 498A.
The family welfare committees have been constituted in compliance with the order passed by the Supreme Court in July this year directing the District Legal Services Authority to constitute one or more such committees in every district.
The division bench of Justice AK Goel and Justice UU Lalit had also ordered against any arrest before the welfare committee so recommended.
However, this October, when NGO Nyayadhar moved a PIL before the apex court praying that at least two women members be included in the committees, CJI Dipak Misra decided to take a relook in the judgment.
"We are not in agreement with the judgment passed in the case. We can't write law we can only interpret the law," the CJI had said.
Meanwhile, all 11 family welfare committees are now functional and comprise a chairperson and two members.
The chairpersons of the committee are district and sessions judges heading their respective district legal services authority.
The chairperson of the committee for the north-west district is yet to be nominated.
The details of the committees were made available vide a circular issued by DSLSA Member Secretary Sanjeev Jain.
From now, all complaints of dowry death, harassment or domestic violence made before the police or the magistrate would be referred to these committees.
Any arrest will be made only if so recommended by the welfare committee, which has to return its finding in a month after getting in touch with the families involved.
In July 2017, the Supreme Court, in a case titled Rajesh Sharma & Ors Vs State of UP & Ors, had issued a series of guidelines, including constitution of these family welfare committees, to check the misuse of Section 498A.
Rajesh Sharma had moved the Supreme Court against the decision of Allahabad High Court which had refused to quash summons issued against his parents and siblings by a trial court in Uttar Pradesh on a complaint of harassment filed by his estranged wife.
"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 officer and the concerned trial court being sensitized," the apex court had said.
Read the Circular Here