Sunday, 16 March 2014

30 years on, justice not delivered for victimized woman 

Chennai, March 17: Police will file complaints; courts can hear petitions and deliver judgments but who will ensure that the victim gets final justice after the tiring journey through various courts? 

That’s the sad saga of Sundari (names changed), a retired bank employee in Chennai, who knocked on the doors of several courts for 30 years before finally getting an order from a magistrate at Egmore court directing her engineer husband to pay her Rs.30 lakh as compensation for ill treatment.

But even two years after that verdict, the distressed woman is yet to get the money. Cops tell her they cannot find her husband to enforce the court order.

“I got married in 1977 to chemical engineer Raghavan and lived with him for just five years. I learnt he was having some illicit relationships and when I questioned him, he harassed me and told me to get out of the house. I moved out so as to bring up by son in a better environment. My husband applied for divorce but I did not consent", said Sundari, recalling her trauma.

While balancing her time between work at the bank and bringing up the boy as a single mother, she also attended the courts seeking justice as by then, she learnt that Raghavan had married a third time after the second wife passed away. “These two marriages were illegal because Raghavan has not divorced me. I showed his voters’ ID and ration card to prove to the courts that he married two other women”, Sundari said.

Four arrest warrants issued by the Egmore and Ambattur courts since 1992 went unanswered, so she filed a petition under the ‘Protection of Women Against Domestic Violence Act’ (PWADVA) in 2012 and got that extraordinary verdict that Raghavan must pay her Rs.30 lakh for his abusive conduct. “He gave just Rs.One lakh and disappeared. My son is now 30 years old. I am still fighting for justice”, Sundari told DC. 

There is a thin silver lining though. With help from a woman PWADVA officer, Sundari recently managed to gain a small space in Raghavan’s house to live since she remains his legally wedded wife. An iron grill separates the two.