The decision in Mazidul Miah v. State of W.B., 2020 SCC OnLine Cal 1077
Issue 5 | July 18, 2020
While Indians raged with fury and raised their voices against the death of George Floyd in the USA, we choose to remain shut on the similar happenings in our own country. How do the majority of people talk about George Floyd's death? It either boils down to police brutality or discrimination against the black people. However, the worldwide protests emerged with the slogan, "Black lives matter".
Do they really matter? Indian society often discriminates against dark-skinned people, whether they are children or adults. A person of a dark complexion faces discrimination, rejection and is sometimes also mocked at during interviews, auditions and most prominently, marriages. A person, especially a woman of a dark complexion has to face several rejections by men. Even if she gets married, she is subjected to ridicule, mockery, violence, and harassment. Parents have to pay large sums of money as dowry to the groom's family.
The recent judgment passed by the Calcutta High Court against the violence on (dark-skinned) women committed by the husband and the in-laws comes as a ray of hope against such brutal acts of violence on dark-skinned people.
The case came up before the Hon'ble Calcutta High Court as an appeal before the division bench of Justices Sahidulla Munshi and Subhasis Dasgupta against the judgment and order of execution passed by the Additional Sessions Judge of West Bengal in 2006. The Sessions Court had ordered life imprisonment and fine against the husband and in-laws of the deceased, a 20-year young woman.
Soon after her marriage, at her husband's home, the deceased wife was ill-treated by her husband as well as the in-laws due to her dark skin. She suffered oppression, cruelty and physical assaults on several occasions by her husband and his family. As a way of showing dissatisfaction of the dark skin of the deceased wife, her in-laws made her stand under a cowshed for three days. After several months of torture, the wife was murdered by the husband.
The Hon'ble High Court of Calcutta dismissed the appeal of the husband and upheld the judgment of the Sessions Court of conviction of the husband for murdering the deceased victim under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code. The Court stated that ill-treatment of a wife in her matrimonial home, on the basis of her dark-skin amounts to cruelty under Section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code.
LexGaze is immensely supportive and proud of the judgment passed by the Calcutta High Court. The Court not only acknowledges domestic violence against women but also declares ill-treatment and oppression due to the dark skin of the wife as a form of cruelty. This decision acts as a ray of hope for all the women who are being tortured by their husbands and in-laws, her parents and all other people who stand against discrimination based on colour. The judgment, in effect, also declares that ill treatment based on one’s complexion amounts to cruelty, a much-needed step in the right direction that leaves us hopeful.
In the court’s own words "Causing cruelty to the deceased victim for her black complexion even after her marriage by the in-law’s members would definitely attract Section 498A/34 IPC against the in-law’s members, including the accused husband.”
Calcutta High Court
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