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LEGAL FAQS

Q: Within six months of my sisterís marriage in 2006 her husband and in-laws began harassing and beating her up on demands of more dowry. Recently she fell very ill. When my parents visited her in Benaras, they discovered that she was not being attended to. They brought her back to Calcutta with them. She is now being treated by a psychiatrist. She has three children ó a five-year-old boy and two girls of four and two years. What legal action can we take against her husband and in-laws?

Dipak Kumar Gupta, via email

A: Your sisterís husband and in-laws can be punished with imprisonment under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code for the torture they have inflicted on her. She should lodge a complaint with the concerned local police station in Benaras as well as Calcutta irrespective of whether she wants the police to take action against the culprits or not. If her belongings are still at her in-lawsí place, she should ask them to be returned. She could simultaneously file a case under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, and seek orders relating to alternative accommodation, maintenance for herself and her children, recovery of her streedhan, and other protection orders including retaining custody of her children.

Q:My father is retired and my parents have a divorce case pending in the high court. They live in the same house, albeit on different floors. Recently, my father asked my sister and me (both of us are employed) to pay the electricity bill for the floor that we reside in. The meter is in the name of our grandfather. Does my father have the right to deprive us of something as basic as electricity if we do not pay for it?

D. Bose, Calcutta

A: I assume that your father has inherited the house from your grandfather. According to the law, adult children with sufficient income are liable to maintain their parents. Your father, being retired, can demand maintenance from either of you since both of you are adults, stay in his house, and have your own sources of income too. Hence, he seems justified in asking you to pay for the electricity consumed by you and your sister and it would be prudent to pay it rather than contest the demand.