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Woman cannot be treated like a slave just because she suffers from a psychological illness: Odisha High Court

The psychological illness of the woman does not give the husband and his family members the handle to treat her like slave. Odisha High Court dismissed the bail petition of the petitioner by stating the above-cited reasons in the case of Dipak Bhutia vs. State of Odisha [BLAPL no. 5701 of 2020] presided over by the bench of Hon’ble Justice SK Panigrahi.

In the instant case, the petitioner (accused) had filed a bail application u/s 439 Cr.P.C from the conviction of offences u/s 498-A, 294, 323, 307, 506, 34 of I.P.C. The case was filed by the complainant against the petitioner for dowry and cruelty. The complainant stated that she got married to the petitioner on 20-2-2015; during which, her father had given Rs.5 lakhs and gold ornaments of about 200 gms and other household items in the form of dowry. But after two years of marriage, the husband (petitioner) and his family members demanded Rs 10 lacs as dowry and threatened to burn her alive in case of refusal of the same.

Pursuant to consistent demand and cruelty meted out to the daughter, the complainant’s father gave Rs 3-4 lacs to the in-laws in few installments. It was observed that the matter was resolved in Tumusingha P.S. wherein the petitioner and his family members had admitted their fault and had promised not to repeat similar mistakes again in the future. But a few days later, the husband and the in-laws tried to assault the complainant by threatening to take her life. The mother-in-law and sister-in-law applied a poisonous plant on the complainant’s private parts and tried to set her on fire. But she somehow saved herself and then lodged an FIR in the Police Station.

The Petitioner’s counsel had argued that the false allegations were put up against the petitioner and his family and contended that the complainant was a psychiatric patient and hence, bail should be granted to the petitioner.

It was found that after the settlement between the parties on 25-5-2020, the complainant was subjected to cruelty within 10 days of the above-stated settlement.

The High Court relied on the judgments of Neeraj Subhash Mehta vs. The State of Maharashtra, Shobha Rani v. Medhukar Reddi, and Noorjahan v. State for interpreting that what exactly amounts to cruelty and stated that “If the intention to harm, harass or hurt could be inferred by the nature of the conduct or brutal act complained of, cruelty could be easily established. But the absence of intention should not make any difference in the case if by ordinary sense in human affair the act complained of could otherwise be regarded as cruelty”.

In the present case, as the investigation was still going on, it appeared that the offences under IPC were definitely made out and the allegations made upon the petitioner and his family members were very specific and not casual. The Court stated that “The length of detention of the petitioner is not a ground for release him on bail in this kind of offence which shakes the social fabrics. Even the allegation of psychological illness of the complainant-victim does not give the petitioner and his family members the handle to treat her like slave bereft of any mercy and human compassion”. And hence, the bail petition of the accused was disposed of.

Click here to read the Judgement

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