Arnesh Kumar v. State of Bihar (2014) 8 SCC 273


Author: Sharwari Manojkumar Shinde {Sinhgad law college, Pune}.

As an aspect of the Criminal Law (Second Amendment) Act, Section 498-A was introduced to the Indian Penal Code in 1989. The objective of this section is to punish the husband and other family members who abuse their wives in order to obtain dowry, in addition to stop them from doing so. 

However, the Court observed that there has been a significant increase in marital disputes in the last few years. Because Section 498-A of the IPC is not bailable and cognizable, it is undoubtedly exploited by resentful women. The National Crime Records Bureau, Ministry of Home Affairs, released the “Crime in India 2012 statistics,” stating that 1,97,762 persons have been imprisoned in India in 2012 for breaching section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code. In accordance with the report, 3,72,706 cases remain awaiting trial, and 3,17,000 of these proceedings are anticipated to result in an acquittal.

The data presented in the previously mentioned research suggests that most of the people who had been detained will be released after the trial. But the lengthy trial and arrest would cause irreversible harm to the accused’s and his family’s reputation, which cannot be restored. In Arnesh Kumar V. State of Bihar (2014), the court established guidelines for making an arrest. In the present case, the wife accused her husband of seeking a dowry and filed a complaint against him.


In India, dowry is referred to as “Streedhan,” which denotes funds, assets, or presents given by the bride’s parents only. Despite the fact that the custom’s original meaning has been undermined, the bride is now viewed as a pot of gold that will enrich the groom’s family. The government has passed legislation like the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961, which forbids “giving, taking, or demanding of dowry,” in response to the rise in dowry-related deaths. By changing the Indian Penal Code, the Indian Parliament made the cruelty that is seen in dowry cases illegal. However, the women exploit these rules and legislations as a tool to exact personal revenge. Women turn to resentment and fictitious dowry demands. In addition, the police harass and arrest the husband and family members.

  1. The second respondent, Sweta Kiran, is married to the petitioner, Arnesh Kumar.
  2. The wife alleges that her father-in-law and mother-in-law demanded a dowry of Rs. 8 lakhs, along with a television set, air conditioning, a Maruti car, and other stuff, and that the appellant threatened to marry someone else and supported his mother when this was brought to his attention.
  3. It is also stated that she was forced to leave the married home since the dowry requirement was not satisfied.
  4. The appellant, rejecting these charges, filed an application for anticipatory bail, but was turned down twice: first by the High Court and later by the learned Sessions Judge.
  5. After his plea for anticipatory bail was turned down, he filed this Special Leave petition with the Supreme Court.
  1. Does the appellant qualify for anticipatory bail?
  2. Does a police officer have to make an arrest based on a complaint if they believe someone is doing a crime that is cognizable offence? If so, what guidelines must the investigating agency to adhere to in making the arrest?
  3. In the instance that a woman breaches Indian Penal Code, 1860 section 498-A, what remedies are available to her?

On July 2, 2014, the Supreme Court’s two-judge panel made an important verdict in the case of Arnesh Kumar vs. State of Bihar & Anr. The bench gave a majority decision and granted bail to the appellant with certain conditions. 

In response to Arnesh Kumar’s Special Leave Petition challenging his detention and the arrest of his family under this law, the Supreme Court issued specific orders. The judgment observed that because section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 is not bailable or cognizable, it has become a powerful instrument for unhappy wives, resulting in the detention of innocent people without proof. The Supreme Court pointed out that some women abuse the anti-dowry act (section 498-A) to harass their spouses and in-laws. 

The Supreme Court restricted the police from conducting arrests merely on the grounds of a complaint. The Court instructed the police to abide by Section 41 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, which specifies nine criteria for determining whether or not an arrest is needed. The Court further stated that a magistrate must decide whether an arrested individual should be placed in additional detention.

  1. All state governments ought to instruct their police workforce not to instantly arrest when a complaint under Section 498-A IPC is registered, but to convince themselves regarding the necessity of arrest under the requirements put down above under Section 41 CrPC.
  2. Section 41(1)(b)(ii) necessitate police officers to provide a check list with specific sub-clauses. 
  3. The Police officer must fill out the check list and provide reasons and materials for the arrest before presenting the accused to the Magistrate for further detention.
  4. The Magistrate, while granting detention of the accused, must review the report given by the police officer in terms aforesaid, and only after recording its satisfaction would the Magistrate authorize detention.
  5. The decision not to arrest an criminated shall be encouraged to the Magistrate within two weeks of the institution of the case, with a dupe to the Magistrate, which may be extended by the administrator of Police of the quarter for reasons to be recorded in notation; 
  6. Notice of appearance in agreement with Section 41- A CrPC be served on the criminated within two weeks after the institution of the case, which may be extended by the 10 administrators of Police of the quarter for reasons to be recorded in notation;
  7. Failure to comply with the aforementioned directives will subject the police officers in question to departmental action as well as punishment for contempt of court, which will be brought before the High Court with territorial jurisdiction.
  8. Authorizing detention without noting the reasons specified by the Judicial Magistrate in question will result in departmental action by the appropriate High Court.

Everything contains both positive and negative features. Section 498-A of the IPC aims to eliminate the severe practice of dowry from Indian society and penalize those who engage in it. However, many women have used the gaps in this section to abuse their spouse and his family members. 

The Supreme Court issued a landmark verdict in Arnesh Kumar vs. State of Bihar & Anr. to put an end to the abuse of anti-dowry legislation.  The decision stressed the significance of striking a balance between individual liberty and social order while using arrest power. Police officers must be cautious when arresting someone since it limits freedom, humiliates them, and leaves permanent wounds. Furthermore, it is critical to make police officers aware of the Arnesh Kumar Guidelines and to take action against anyone who disregards the Supreme Court’s decision in this case.


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