The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Court mends marriage mess
- Key verdict restrains arrest of two husbands accused of torture

In an order that may set a precedent in cases of atrocities against wives, a Calcutta High Court division bench on Friday sent two warring couples back home for reconciliation.

Justice Amit Talukdar and Justice P.N. Sinha also asked police not to arrest the husbands, who had sought anticipatory bail, after their wives had filed complaints against them under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code. Originally designed to protect wives from torture, the section has come under the scanner because of widespread misuse.

Both the state and central governments have initiated moves to reform the act, in light of growing instances of harassment of husbands and their families on the basis of complaints filed by wives or their families. Justice Talukdar and Justice Sinha, in their orders, asked both the couples to spend a stipulated time together and convey their feelings to the court at the end of the period. The bench also asked the police not to carry out arrests until further orders.

Arjun Mukherjee, of Barisha, prayed for anticipatory bail after wife Muktamala, a working woman with a bank balance of Rs 3 lakh, lodged a police complaint alleging that he was torturing her for money. Muktamala had told police the torture forced her to leave her in-laws’ house with her two-month-old child and proceed to her parents’ in Thakurpukur.

Arjun told the court his wife was mentally unstable and it was impossible for him to live with her. Instead of rejecting or granting bail, the court asked both Arjun and Muktamala to attend a hearing. On Friday, the judges met the couple ‘in camera’. Later, family members and others waiting outside the courtroom saw the couple step out, hand in hand. Public prosecutor Ashimesh Goswami told them the couple had decided to give their marriage another chance.

A similar case involved Mousumi and Uma Shankar Roy, who, too, decided to walk up reconciliation road, from the same courtroom, accompanied by their two sons, Sourav and Sabyasachi. Mousumi, who was staying with her parents at Bhurkunda, in the Goghat police station area, after separating from her husband, went back to her in-laws’ at Akui, in the Indus police station area of Bankura. On June 16, Mousumi had left her in-laws’ house and lodged a complaint with Indus police against her husband. Apprehending arrest, Mousumi’s husband prayed for anticipatory bail in Calcutta High Court, which asked the couple to appear with their children. On Friday, the court held a detailed discussion with them, after which the duo decided to go back home, together.

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