The Supreme Court of India on September 14, 2018 modified its July 2017 order in dowry harassment case for preventing misuse of Section 498A of Indian Penal Code (IPC). The Section 498A (dowry harassment) of IPC protects gender justice and rights.
A three judges’ bench led by the Chief Justice Dipak Misra withdrew the earlier direction issued in Rajesh Sharma case which stated that complaints under Section 498A of the IPC should be scrutinised by Family Welfare Committees before any legal action by police.
The bench acknowledged that there was misuse of the provision leading to social unrest; however, it cannot constitutionally fill up the gaps in penal law. The top court left it to Parliament to make suitable rules to check abuse of the law.
The apex court had on April 23, 2018 reserved its verdict on a batch of pleas seeking modifications in July 2017 judgement that had reduced the strictness of the anti-dowry law on the offence of subjecting a married woman to cruelty by spouse and in-laws.
• The bench was hearing a plea filed by an NGO 'Nyayadhar', an organisation formed by a group of women advocates of Maharashtra's Ahmednagar district.
• The plea seeks sharpness in section 498A, claiming that the earlier direction has made the legislation valueless for the women victims.
• The plea suggested that out of the three members in Family Welfare Committees, at least two should be women and one should have done Masters in Social Work.
• It suggested recording of facts at the time of counselling and said the committee should also consider the economic status of the parties.
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