NEW DELHI: In what appeared to be a course correction from its "will you marry her" question that drew flak from women activists, a
bench headed by
CJI S A Bobde
on Friday denied
to a husband accused of dowry harassment, sternly observing that "cruel men" don't deserve relief.
The comment was significant as though the husband appeared to have a good case for relief, the CJI-led bench decided to go purely by the woman’s allegations. The husband claimed the accusations were a response to his police complaint about nude photographs of his wife being shared by another man. This happened when the couple was estranged, he said.
The husband's counsel said the woman had shared hundreds of her nude photographs with the other man during the period of estrangement in her own marriage and that the allegations of dowry harassment, when not a single penny was taken or demanded as dowry, were one-sided.
The bench dismissed the husband’s anticipatory bail plea and said, "If she has shared her nude pictures with someone else, you can divorce her. But you cannot treat her with cruelty." When the husband's counsel said custodial interrogation was not needed as the FIR was one-sided, the bench of CJI Bobde and Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian said, "Allegations in an FIR are always one-sided. We have never seen an FIR which is jointly filed by the complainant and the accused."
The husband now faces arrest. His parents, who too were accused by his wife of dowry harassment, were granted anticipatory bail by a Rajasthan court.
The bench’s decision came after Justice Bobde's "will you marry her" query to a man, accused of rape by a woman years after they had sexual relations, evoked protests from women’s groups and political leaders. The "will you marry her" query had come in the context of that case and required a reading of the entire case file. The incident pertained to 2014-15 when the boy, who could then be 16-17 years old, had sexual intercourse with a
, who was his distant relative.
The initial liaison was without contraceptives and later with the use of birth control, the woman said in her complaint. She also said the sexual relationship was under coercion and that she had gone to the police station with her mother to complain. However, when the boy's mother promised through a notarised affidavit, signed by the girl’s mother too, that the boy would marry her on attaining majority, no complaint was made.
When the girl attained marriageable age, she learned that the man was not keen on keeping the promise to marry her and filed a complaint with police. The man moved the trial court, which looked into the facts and circumstances of the case and relationship and granted anticipatory bail. It was in the context of the girl refraining from filing a complaint on the basis of the promise of marriage that the CJI-led bench had asked the boy whether he was still ready to marry her.
But when the man said he could not as he was already married, the CJI-led bench castigated him and said he could not be granted anticipatory bail for a crime that included seduction and exploitation of a minor girl. It asked him to seek regular bail from the trial court while protecting him from arrest for four weeks.