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The Constitution of India, as the supreme law of the land, guarantees the right to equality under Article 14. However, due to certain societal practices against women, it became necessary to provide legislative protection for them against familial violence. Consequently, the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 was enacted under the provisions of Article 15(3), which allows the State to make special provisions for women. This Act is in addition to Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, which was added in 1983. The primary aim of these laws is to protect women, who have historically been subjected to violence both within and outside the home. Nonetheless, the current situation indicates that some women are misusing these laws as a weapon against their husbands and in-laws, rather than as a shield, as noted by the Supreme Court of India in several recent cases. In matrimonial disputes, it is not always the wife who is the aggrieved party. In many instances, men are also victims of violence at the hands of their wives. This raises the question of where men can seek justice if they are the ones aggrieved. Do they not have the right to equality and justice? Hence, there is a pressing need for gender-neutral violence legislation.


Landmark judicial decisions are pivotal in shaping societal norms and legal frameworks, contributing significantly to the pursuit of a more equitable legal system. A notable case in this context is Arnesh Kumar vs. State of Bihar, decided by the Supreme Court of India in 2014. This case scrutinized the misuse of Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which deals with cruelty by a husband or his relatives. Section 498A was originally designed to protect married women from harassment and abuse, which is a prevalent issue in India. However, concerns emerged over time regarding its misuse, leading to unnecessary arrests and a surge in frivolous cases.

The Arnesh Kumar case highlighted the necessity for a balanced approach that safeguards genuine victims of domestic violence while curbing the misuse of legal provisions. The Supreme Court’s judgment stressed the need to protect individuals’ rights against arbitrary arrests and established guidelines to ensure a more judicious application of Section 498A. The impact of this landmark ruling extends beyond Section 498A, contributing to broader discussions on the importance of gender-neutral laws in India. It emphasizes the need for a legal framework that protects the rights of all individuals, regardless of gender, thus promoting a more balanced and just legal system.

Facts of Arnesh Kumar vs State of Bihar

Arnesh Kumar, who initiated the court case, is married to Sweta Kiran. Their marriage took place on July 1st, 2007. Sweta alleges that her in- laws demanded a dowry ofRs. 8 lakh, a Maruti auto, an air- conditioner, a TV set, and other particulars.

She claims that when she informed Arnesh Kumar about this, he supported his mama and indeed hovered to marry another woman. also, she states that she was impelled to leave the connubial home because the dowry demands weren’t fulfilled.

Arnesh Kumar refutes these allegations. He sought anticipatory bail to avoid arrest before any charges were filed, but his request was denied by both the Sessions Judge and the High Court. After his unprofitable attempt to secure anticipatory bail, he approached the Supreme Court through a Special Leave solicitation in the case of Arnesh Kumar vs State of Bihar.


  • Is it possible for the ( the complainant) to seek anticipantory bail?
  • When it comes to the police arresting an existent grounded on a complaint for a serious crime, should they do with the arrest? If so, what protocols should the probing officers cleave to during the arrest?
  • What measures can be taken if a woman falsely invokes Section 498- A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, which addresses atrocity within marriage?

Legal Provisions Addressed

Judgement in Arnesh Kumar vs State of Bihar

On July 2, 2014, the Supreme Court addressed a Special Leave solicitation( SLP) filed by Arnesh Kumar, who  queried the arrest of himself and his family under this  enactment. In the case Arnesh Kumar v State of Bihar & Anr., a Supreme Court bench of two judges reviewed the  perpetration of Section 41( 1)( A) of the Criminal Procedure Code( CrPC), which stipulates specific procedures to be followed  prior to making an arrest.  The court noted in Arnesh Kumar v State of Bihar that Section 498A had become an  important instrument for  displeased  women , leading to the arrest of innocent people without significant  substantiation, due largely to the laws’ non-bailable and cognizable nature. 

The Supreme Court  conceded that some women were abusing the anti-dowry law( Section 498A) to  kill their  misters and in- laws. Accordingly, the court limited the police’s authority to make apprehensions grounded solely on complaints.  also, the court directed the police to follow Section 41 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, which provides guidelines to  estimate the necessity of an arrest. The court also  commanded that a  justice must  estimate whether a detained  existent should remain in  guardianship. This ruling aimed to balance  precluding abuse of the law and  securing the rights of the  indicted.

Arnesh Kumar Guidelines

The Supreme Court of India, in its ruling in the case of Arnesh Kumar vs State of Bihar, articulated directives aimed at bridling unjustified apprehensions by law enforcement officers and unwarranted detentions authorized by adjudicators.

  • These guidelines, known as the Arnesh Kumar Guidelines, emphasise the necessity for state governments to advise their police officers against indiscriminately arresting individualities in cases filed under Section 498- A of the Indian Penal Code. rather, arrest should be contemplated only when the circumstances meet the criteria delineated in Section 41 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
  • All police officers should have a roster containing specific clauses mentioned in Section 41( 1)( b)( ii).
  • When producing the indicted before the justice for further detention, the police officer should submit the roster along with reasons and substantiation justifying the arrest.
  • Adjudicators, when authorising further detention, should calculate on the report handed by the police officer. The justice should only authorize continued detention after recording the reasons furnished in the police report and being satisfied with them.
  • The decision not to arrest an indicted existent should be communicated to the justice within two weeks from the inauguration of the case. The supervisor of Police can extend this timeframe, with recorded reasons.
  • The indicted person should be served with a Notice of Appearance according to Section 41- A of the Code of Criminal Procedure within two weeks from the case’s inauguration. This time frame can be extended by the supervisor of Police with written reasons.
  • Failure to follow these directions could affect in the police officer being held in disdain of court by the applicable High Court.
  • Judicial Adjudicators who authorise detention without recording reasons may face departmental proceedings initiated by the High Court.
  • The decision aimed to help abuse of the law while securing individual rights. Violations of these guidelines could lead to legal conduct against police officers and adjudicators.


  1. Why were the Arnesh kumar guidelines introduced ?

They were introduced due to a surge in cases where Section 498A of the IPC was exploited for personal vendettas or to victimize innocent individuals and their families. The Supreme Court recognized the necessity to protect individual rights and prevent misuse of legal provisions.

  1. What are the key provisions of the Arnesh kumar guidelines ? 

Key provisions of the Arnesh Kumar Guidelines include discouraging automatic arrest of the accused in Section 498A cases, mandating preliminary investigation by the police before arrest, and recommending issuance of summons or notices instead of immediate arrest, except in cases involving concrete evidence of physical injury or death.

  1. Why is there a need for Gender Neutral Laws in India ?

Gender-neutral laws are imperative in India to ensure fairness and equality within the legal system. Presently, many laws in the country are perceived as biased against men, particularly in cases concerning domestic violence, dowry harassment, and sexual offenses. Gender-neutral laws aim to uphold the rights of all individuals, irrespective of gender, and to prevent discrimination based on gender stereotypes.

  1. Which laws in India need to be made gender-neutral?

Several laws in India, such as those related to domestic violence (e.g., Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act), sexual offenses (e.g., Section 375 of the IPC), and matrimonial disputes (e.g., Section 498A of the IPC), require review and amendment to ensure gender neutrality. Such modifications should strive to safeguard the rights of all parties involved and prevent misuse of legal provisions.

  1. What steps are being taken to advocate for gender-neutral laws in India?

Gender-neutral laws can contribute to promoting gender equality, mitigating the risk of false accusations and wrongful convictions, and fostering a more equitable and impartial legal system. They can also empower victims of all genders to seek justice without fear of bias or discrimination.

Efforts to advocate for gender-neutral laws in India involve various groups, NGOs, legal experts, and activists. They engage in advocacy campaigns, legal reform initiatives, and public education endeavours to underscore the significance of equality and fairness in the legal framework. Additionally, discussions and debates within legal and policy-making circles are ongoing to address this issue comprehensively.

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