Procedure/ Steps of 498A
- Complaint at CAW Cell/ Mahila Thana/ Parivar Pramarsh Kendra: This is the first step for 498A in most of the states. A complaint is lodged in Police Station which is transferred to CAW Cell.
- Reconciliation Process at CAW Cell/ Mahila Thana: CAW Cell tries for reconciliation/ settlement between the parties. This process is called mediation. Mediation can also occur at various stages like Bail etc too.
- F.I.R.: If there is no reconciliation or settlement at previous stage, the police register an FIR. At this stage the police can open a look out circular and other harassment may happen at this stage. It is prudent to know your rights as accused when facing criminal case.
- Bail/ Anticipatory Bail/ Stay on Arrest: Till recently, in most states, husbands were not granted Anticipatory Bail or Stay on arrest in 498A as it was most often coupled with 406 IPC. Police invariably asked for custody of prime accused and he was incarcerated for a day to week depending upon the state FIR was lodged. There has been a marked change in this process after Arnesh Kumar Judgment. Still it is always prudent to get Anticipatory Bail when the FIR is lodged. People in Delhi can also seek Notice Bail even while the complaint is at CAW Cell to avoid unnecessary hassles. The court at this stage can put travel restrictions or ask you to seek permission for travel abroad. Also other conditions which the court deems fit can be imposed.
- Police Investigation: This is the most obscure process from the accused. Police investigates the crime, mostly it is collection of bills/ statement of witnesses of the complainant.
- Charge Sheet:After completion of investigation, police submits chargesheet in court, which contains all the material collected by Police during investigation on which the police is basing their case. It also include statements of witnesses u/s 161CrPC and u/s 164CrPC (If any sexual crime is alleged) The accused are summoned and provided with the copy of the Chargesheet free of cost. In rarest of rare case, the police can also file Final Report at this stage. Final report means that the police has come to the conclusion that no crime is made out.
- Framing of Charges/ Discharge: After the chargesheet has been scrutinized by the accused/ their lawyers, the court proceeds to frame the charges, i.e. telling the accused on what crimes they have charged you. This is also the stage when the accused think that there is not enough material on record to charge him and he can move for discharge.
- Prosecution Evidence: Evidence is the cornerstone of all criminal litigation. Mostly the evidence is oral in 498A, i.e. Witness Statements and Cross Examination, though there can be medical/ other evidence as well. In first step the Public Prosecutor asks the witness to narrate his/ her version of facts and then the accused/ their lawyers get an opportunity to cross-examine them. Though there is no fixed sequence the witnesses are called, normally complainant is the first witness and Investigating Officer is the last witness.
- Defence Evidence: Once Prosecution Evidence is over, defence gets the opportunity to present its witnesses, if any, or lead any evidence. This is rarely done in 498A case. The process is opposite of Prosecution Evidence, i.e. first facts are narrated by witness and then cross-examined by Public Prosecutor.
- Accused are examined by magistrateu/s313 Cr.P.C.
- Arguments: Both sides i.e. Public Prosecutor and advocate of accused present arguments and precedents to sway the court towards their own cause.
- The order/ Judgment– Acquittal/ Sentencing.
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