Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Bombay HC thinks impotency could be a stigma

can the police force a man to undergo medical tests to prove his manhood?
The issue arose before the Bombay high court when a Pedder Road-based woman sought the annulment of her 12-year-old marriage, claiming that it was never consummated. In her plea, she also complained of marital cruelty stemming from “his frustration’’.

On Monday, playing arbiter, the court suggested the couple, Shyam Talreja and Sunidhi Patel (names changed), divorce through mutual consent. But the proposition created further disagreements between the two: Patel insisted the consent terms mention her husband’s “impotency’’, a demand Talreja opposed.The judges, in a bid to avoid tainting the man with the stigma “no prudent person might agree to’’, offered a more “amiable phrase’’. “You may say ‘there was no physical relationship between the parties’ rather than ‘non-consummation’,’’ they said. The court has now asked the couple to sleep over its suggestion and return next Monday to settle the matter, failing which it is prepared to hear the husband’s plea on merit.
The couple — both in their late 30s — hail from business families. According to his lawyer, Edith Dey, Talreja worked for his father-in-law’s stockbroking company but was sacked last year when marital trouble began. Late last year, Patel filed a complaint of physical cruelty against her husband and in-laws under Section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). She alleged the physical violence was because of “his frustration arising out of impotency’’. The police arrested Talreja and his parents, but released them on bail.
Last month, Talreja said, when the police sought a change in his reporting schedule, he realised it was to have him tested for impotency at Nair Hospital. Aggrieved, he objected and got a medical report to show “all is well’’ from a private charitable hospital. But the police refused to accept Talreja’s private report, forcing him to move the high court. A bench headed by Justice B H Marlapalle barred the medical tests.
Patel’s lawyer Aabad Ponda on Monday said that a divorce which did not mention Talreja’s “impotency’’ might mar her chances of remarriage and undermine the harassment she faced “for the last seven years’’. On her part, Dey questioned the “12-year delay in raising the impotency issue’’.

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