A victim of marital sexual abuse cannot be discriminated against only because she is the wife of the offender and has to be treated as any other rape victim, a Delhi court has observed, while denying bail to a man accused of sodomising his pregnant wife.
The court said though the legislature is yet to take a "serious note" of rampant cases of marital sexual abuse which the women in the country suffer silently, it does not mean that "a battered wife, who has been sexually abused and has invoked the legal system, is not entitled to any State assistance which is already available to other victims".
Additional Sessions Judge Kamini Lau directed the Delhi government to take responsibility and take care of the woman, a resident of Keshav Puram in Delhi, who has lodged a case against her husband for allegedly forcing her to establish sexual relations with him against the order of the nature after consuming alcohol while she was pregnant.
"She is the responsibility of the State and is required to be taken care of just as any other victim of aggravated sexual assault and abuse. The State cannot abdicate its responsibility and she cannot be discriminated only because she happens to be the wife of the sexual aggressor," the court said.
While refusing to grant bail to the man, the court noted that the extent of his mental perversity was demonstrated from the fact that he did not even spare his nine-year-old son and polluted the mind of the child by boasting to him about his sexual relations.
"How can such a person be treated with leniency and that too when his wife, who has suffered this torture for more than nine years, is in an advance stage of pregnancy,” asked the court.
"The allegations made against him are serious. At this stage, his release is neither advisable nor warranted. Merely because the victim now wants the accused to be out does not mean that the court is obligated to oblige. The application for grant of bail is hereby dismissed," the judge said.
During the bail hearing, the woman had pleaded that her husband should be released as she was in a state of destitution, as she was totally dependent upon him and there was nobody to look after her.
The court, however, said the woman was present before it despite her advanced stage of pregnancy, along with the advocate for the accused, and this showed that she was under extreme pressure of her in-laws with whom she was staying.
It also pulled up the police for invoking Section 498A (husband or his relative subjecting woman to cruelty) of the IPC on the man even though there were specific allegations
that he used to harass and mistreat her since the time they got married.
The court also expressed displeasure over the manner in which the deputy commissioner of police (north-west Delhi) was showing "total lack of concern regarding court cases".
"The sensitivity and required departmental response is totally lacking. Not only have the provisions of law not been suitably invoked but the manner in which the investigating agency has proceeded with the investigation thereafter is highly shocking...
"Needless to day, the investigation so far has been seriously lacking and highly non-professional and there is every possibility that this non serious approach is solely on account of the fact that the accused in the present case is the husband of the victim," it said.
The court directed the joint commissioner of police (range) to intervene and ensure that an inquiry relating to the psychological assessment and financial destitution of the victim is conducted and also sent a copy of its order to the police commissioner for appropriate action.
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