Saturday, July 30, 2011

“No justification for harassing wives who don't beget children”

The Supreme Court has decried the tendency of husbands harassing or taunting childless wives as if the latter alone are responsible for not begetting a child and sometimes driving them to commit suicide.

A Bench of Justice Markandey Katju and Justice C.K. Prasad said: “It is natural that everyone wants children, but if a woman does not have a child that does not mean that she should be insulted or harassed. In such a situation, the best course would be to take medical help, and if that fails, to adopt a child. Experience has shown that an adopted child gives as much happiness to the adoptive parents as any natural child does.”

Instant case
In the instant case, appellant Sudarshan Kumar was convicted and sentenced to undergo imprisonment for seven years for abetting the suicide of his wife Sudesh.

According to the prosecution, they were married in 1980 and they did not have a child till she committed suicide in 1989. She was ill-treated and harassed by the husband saying he would remarry if she died and this forced her to commit suicide.

A trial court in Punjab awarded seven years imprisonment and this was confirmed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court. The present appeal by the husband is directed against this judgment.

No reason to condone act
Disposing of the appeal, the Bench said: “We see no justification to condone such an act of harassing or tormenting a woman just because she did not give birth to a child. It may not be the fault of the wife that she did not have a child. At any event, that is no justification for tormenting or beating her and this reveals a feudal, backward mentality.”

The Bench said: “Having carefully perused the record of the case, we are not inclined to interfere with the conviction of the appellant and the same is hereby confirmed. But keeping in view the fact that the appellant has already undergone about five years' rigorous imprisonment out of seven years, we deem it appropriate to reduce the sentence to the period already undergone by him.”

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