SC Protects Woman, Child From Coercive Step By Law Enforcement Agencies As Women Rights Body Petitions Against Powerful In-Laws’ Harassment

SC Protects Woman, Child From Coercive Step By Law Enforcement Agencies As Women Rights Body Petitions Against Powerful In-Laws’ Harassment

The Supreme Court has ordered that no coercive steps be taken against a woman and her minor son who are purportedly being harassed by her estranged husband and her father-in-law, former chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee who is said to have used all law enforcement agencies to unleash terror on her.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice DY Chandrachud ordered that no coercive steps be taken against the woman [name omitted ] and her 10-year-old son after organization called All-India Women’s Conference brought before it their plight.

The court issued a notice to the woman’s estranged husband Ashu Dutt and her father-in-law RJ Khurana, a senior IPS officer who retired as the chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee.

The petition filed by the organisation also impleads the Centre, the states of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Manipur, Meghalaya, Sikkim, Tripura and Nagaland.

It also impleads the Commissioner of Mumbai Police and the Director General of Police, Bhopal where the woman has been booked in false FIRs.

The court, however, did not issue notice to the Centre, states and the police officers while directing that its order against any coercive step can be produced by the woman before any authority which is bound to respect it.

The organisation, while narrating her ordeal, prayed for directions making it mandatory for complainant husband/father-in-law/ members of the husband’s family in such like cases to disclose in the complaints filed against the estranged /separated women, the existence of marital disputes before lodging criminal complaints with the law enforcement agencies.

The petition also challenged the abuse of police and law enforcement machinery by powerful persons who have clout in the political/ bureaucratic/ police establishment against estranged /separated women.

It also prayed for directions/issuance of guidelines to the police that in cases where disclosure of matrimonial disputes is made, a 3-member body comprising of at least one judicial member and one female member be constituted to carry out necessary scrutiny of the complaint and submit a report before registration of any FIR/launching of any investigation against the estranged/ separated women.

The organisation also urged the court to direct the police to not take a coercive step against separated women and their children on the complaints lodged by estranged husband etc unless the 3-member body finds it to be a genuine complaint.

In the instant case, 47-year-old Thai national and an Overseas Citizen of India separated from her husband Ashu in 2012 after 17 years of marriage.

After she refused to part with the ‘stridhan’ and the family companies, she was threatened with arrest from police of any north-eastern state, said the petition.

On June 29, 2012, the petition said she and her three children who had obtained boarding passes, crossed the immigration and were boarding flight for Bangkok but were detained under the National Security Act 1980 without being assigned any reason at the Mumbai International Airport.

Thereafter, about 4 pm they were taken to the Juhu police station and were detained following a complaint by her husband of theft and kidnapping. They were let go only after her advocate confronted the police as to how a mother could be charged with kidnapping.

Later, an EOW raid was orchestrated at her house in Mumbai in August 2013.

Such harassment continued for six years.

The petition said it received a representation from her and scores of women placed like her who are being terrorised by their powerful in-laws for giving up their rightful claim over children or property or both.

The petition said: “Ever since she fell out of marriage, her estranged husband and father-in-law have filed a barrage of false and malicious complaints against the petitioner and unleashed every known law enforcement authority against her - be it local police stations in Mumbai or the Economic Offences Wing, Enforcement Directorate, Income Tax authorities  or immigration authorities, Registrar of Companies…The object is to frame her in criminal cases and get her arrested and to terrorise her to abandon her claims to the custody of her children and her stake in the companies in respect of which she has filed Company Petition…”

The petition said there were over 40 criminal complaints against her and FIRs by over 12 law enforcement agencies of two States – Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, the threat of arrest from North Eastern States, for the last 6 years.

It claimed that even her maids and driver have not been spared and a Lookout Circular is also being issued against them. She now stays with her 10-year-old son in Mumbai.