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'Why Is Our Force So Insensitive?': Bombay High Court Over Police's Inaction In Inter- Caste Couple's Protection Plea

Sharmeen Hakim
12 Nov 2021 4:53 AM GMT
Why Is Our Force So Insensitive?: Bombay High Court Over Polices Inaction In Inter- Caste Couples Protection Plea
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Standing behind her lawyers, the young woman of the Ahir community wept inconsolably while the Bombay High Court took her alleged tormentors and the Mumbai police to task. The court questioned the Mumbai Police Commissioner, who was present on a video call, regarding the police's inaction on the woman's complaint of death threats and sexual violence after her inter-faith marriage...

Standing behind her lawyers, the young woman of the Ahir community wept inconsolably while the Bombay High Court took her alleged tormentors and the Mumbai police to task.

The court questioned the Mumbai Police Commissioner, who was present on a video call, regarding the police's inaction on the woman's complaint of death threats and sexual violence after her inter-faith marriage in December 2020.

"Why is our force so insensitive? If this happens in the city, what will be happening in the interior of our state?... this is a complaint by a citizen who has been taken away from here, raped there (Gujarat) by a man under the pretext of marriage, beaten up, she comes here and writes to the police…When a woman gives such a serious complaint...We want to know why the police has not taken any action…" the court asked.

Justices SJ Kathawalla and Abhay Ahuja was hearing a young inter-faith couple's protection petition. After the marriage in December, the woman was reunited with her husband only in August 2021 but continued to face persecution. Earlier this week, the court granted round the clock police protection for the couple, the husband's family and witnesses to the wedding allegedly facing the wrath of the Ahir community.

A saga of violence, humiliation, rape, grievous bodily injury, and mental injury, the court had noted.

CP Hemant Nagrale assured disciplinary action and registration of a zero FIR on the woman's complaint, which would be forwarded to the Gujarat police. Advocate Pranav Badheka for the couple objected saying the genesis of the complaint was in Mumbai, and the girl was taken to Gujarat on a ruse.

Meanwhile court noted how not acting on the woman's complaint from August 2021 had emboldened her second husband further, who visited Mumbai and allegedly beat up the father-in-law in September 2021.

"People cannot feel you can come here, do all these things in Bombay, and go away. Torture our girls…And also have the guts to come to Bombay and attack the family. We don't want outsiders to get this impression that they can do anything in Maharashtra…"

The livid judge further pulled up the police, "When a common citizen comes to you don't protect them. You need some phone calls from somewhere. Only then you people act…"

Pursuant to the court's directions, the woman's father, brother, the village sarpanch, and the man she was forcibly married off to appeared in court and gave several contradictory responses.

"All of them have come from Gujarat and think they can do anything here," the court said.

The woman's father's counsel sought time to file an affidavit to the petition by Saturday and also sought to be protected till then. He said the family may have made contradictory statements in panic.

The court said it will accept the affidavits but refused any relief.

"They don't panic when they beat up girls? The girl said 150 men surrounded her in the village when she went back. Was that not a charged atmosphere for her? "

Court Appreciates Husband

Full marks to the first husband for standing by her despite all the problems. The father has done nothing, he has succumbed to the pressure from the community. He allowed his daughter to be raped, noted the Court.

The court has now sought affidavits from all the parties and will hear the case on Saturday.

Background

The couple eloped in February 2020 and returned to Mumbai 10 days later. In March 2020, the woman was forced to file a false rape case against her paramour, for which he spent 4.5 months in prison. The same month she was taken to Gujarat and engaged against her wishes.

In December, her parents returned with her to their residence in Jogeshwari. She then married her paramour on December 23. 

On May 24, 2021 the woman said she was forced to marry another man from her community who physically and sexually assaulted her, including injuries to her private parts and tried to use cigarette buds. In addition, he claimed to have purchased her.

After months of torture, the woman said she finally escaped and reached Mumbai in August. 

Case Title: X v. State of Maharashtra

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