Refusal to make tea doesn’t amount to grave and sudden provocation: Bombay High Court

The medieval notion of the wife being the property of the husband to do as he wishes still persists in the majority mindset; which is nothing but notions of patriarchy. Refusal to make tea offered grave and sudden provocation is clearly untenable and unsustainable. Bombay High Court gave the judgment in the case of Santosh Mahadev Atkar vs. The State of Maharashtra [Criminal Appeal no.544 of 2019] and quashed the appeal of the appellant by stating the above-cited reasons; which was presided over by the single bench of Hon’ble Justice Revati Mohite Dere.

In the present case, an appeal was made by the appellant challenging the order passed by the Additional Sessions Judge convicting him for the offence u/s 304 of the Indian Penal Code and to suffer rigorous imprisonment for 10 years and to pay a fine of Rs.5,000/-. According to the facts of the case, a complaint was lodged by the deceased’s uncle against the appellant for assaulting the deceased (Appellant’s wife) because of which she succumbed to her injuries. It was found that the appellant used to suspect the deceased wife’s character very often. One day, the deceased did not make tea for the appellant due to which the appellant attacked her from behind & gave a blow on her head with a hammer; which was witnessed by their 6-year-old daughter. The Appellant later cleaned the blood and gave a bath to the deceased and then took her to the hospital. But she couldn’t survive the injuries and hence, died.  In the Learned Magistrate, the appellant was convicted for the offence punishable under Section 302 and 201 of the Indian Penal Code.

The appellant’s counsel had argued that the incident was a result of the grave and sudden provocation offered by deceased-Manisha, when she refused to make tea for the appellant and hence, the sentence of the appellant be reduced to the period already undergone by the appellant. Whereas, the respondent’s counsel had submitted that the appellant after assaulting the deceased on the flimsy ground of refusing to make tea for him, bathed the deceased, cleaned the blood from the spot, and as such wasted valuable time in taking Manisha to the hospital, resulting in her death.

In the High Court, the appellant’s daughter had given her testimony where she submitted that she saw her father attacking her mother with a hammer due to which she started bleeding and then was taken to the Hospital by the appellant himself. The court considered the appellant’s daughter’s testimony as confident which could not be disbelieved.

After observing the testimonies of the witnesses and the other evidence, the court came to the fact that “This medieval notion of the wife being the property of the husband to do as he wishes, unfortunately, still persists in the majority mindset. Nothing but notions of patriarchy. Thus, the submission of the learned counsel for the appellant that the deceased by refusing to make tea for the appellant offered grave and sudden provocation, is ludicrous, clearly untenable, and unsustainable and as such deserves to be rejected.” Hence, the appeal was dismissed and the court upheld the judgment of the Sessions Court.

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