‘Husband primarily liable for injuries inflicted on wife in matrimonial home’, rules Supreme Court

On Monday, Denying pre-arrest bail to a man accused of assaulting his spouse, the Supreme Court said a husband would be primarily liable for injuries inflicted on a wife in the matrimonial home even if these were caused by his relatives. It was the man’s third marriage and the woman’s second.

A year after the marriage, a child was born to them in 2018. In June last year, she lodged a complaint with Ludhiana police against her husband and in-laws after an alleged brutal assault on her by the husband, father-in-law and mother-in-law, accusing her of not meeting their growing dowry demands.

When the husband’s counsel Kushagra Mahajan persisted with the request for anticipatory bail, a bench headed by CJI S A Bobde said, “What kind of a man are you? She alleges that you were about to kill her by strangulation. She alleges that you forced a miscarriage. What kind of man are you to use a cricket bat to beat up your wife?”

When Mahajan said she had alleged it was the husband’s father who had used the bat to assault her, the CJI-led bench said, “It does not matter whether it was you (husband) or your father who allegedly used the bat to assault her. When injuries are inflicted on a woman in a matrimonial home, the primary liability is on the husband.” The bench rejected the man’s petition.

The Punjab and Haryana high court, while refusing to grant anticipatory bail to the husband, had extracted the woman’s complaint, which read, “On June 12, 2020, at about 9 pm, the petitioner (husband) and his father, armed with a cricket bat, gave the complainant merciless beatings in which the petitioner’s mother also participated; the petitioner attempted to strangulate the complainant and his father put a pillow on her face with an intention to kill her; after giving her merciless beatings, she was thrown on the road; on being informed, the complainant’s father and brother came there and got the complainant treated as also medico legally examined.” She had also alleged that she had miscarried twice earlier because of assault in her matrimonial home.

Looking at the medical report, the HC had said, “The complainant’s MLR reveals as many as ten injuries on her person including five on her head/face, one on her vagina and multiple reddish bruises of varying sizes around her neck. Eight of the ten injuries are medically opined to have been inflicted by a blunt weapon.”

Refusing to grant pre-arrest bail, the HC had said, “The above injuries and the medical opinion with regard to eight of them having been inflicted with a blunt weapon give prima facie credence to the allegations by the complainant with regard to the petitioner having attempted to murder her by strangulation and of beating her with a cricket bat (a blunt weapon).”

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