The Apex Court has issued an important decision to temper action in sexual harassment cases that there will be no arrests under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code unless the District Family Welfare Committee report vets domestic violence by family members. The decision comes as a big relief to men and their families who have suffered untold harassment due to false cases filed by women.
There will be Family Welfare Committees, set up at the district level, comprising paralegal volunteers, social workers, retired persons, wives of working officers or other citizens who may be found suitable and willing to review complaints filed under Section 498A and interact with parties involved in such cases. The Committee will prepare a report of the case and submit it to the relevant authority.
The cases under 498A should only be investigated by designated Investigating Officers of that area. It has also been left open to District and Sessions Judges to dispose of criminal proceedings should the parties arrive at a settlement. Judges will also have the power to club all connected cases between the parties arising out of matrimonial disputes so that a holistic view is taken by the Court.
Relatives will be allowed to appear for hearing via video conferencing, their personal appearance is not mandatory. In addition, impounding of passports and issuance of Red Corner notices for people staying abroad should not be a routine.
The Indian Lawyer