In a significant order, the Bombay High Court recently held that the protection and welfare of a wife is the sole responsibility of her husband. The HC further said the husband cannot defy his duties for dowry.
A bench of Justices Sadhana Jadhav and N R Borkar while upholding the conviction of a husband for killing his wife, noted that he had tried to bribe the wife's mother by assuring to give around 1 and a half acres of land to his own son.
"The protection and welfare of wife is the sole responsibility of her husband. She enters into matrimonial abode with faith and trust in her husband and it is his duty to protect her," Justice Jadhav said.
"However, dowry deaths, suicides at matrimonial abode defy the said duties cast upon the husband," the bench said while noting that the husband in the present case failed in his duty to protect his wife and instead, "he has eliminated her and has deprived his own infant son of his mother’s love."
"In addition, he has hampered the investigation by winning over the mother of the deceased by offering 1½ acre of land which the child was even otherwise entitled to as a legal heir," the bench noted.
The bench was seized with a criminal appeal filed by the husband challenging his conviction by a trial court for killing his wife.
As per the prosecution case, the husband and his family often harassed the wife for failing to bring one told (10 grams) of gold during her marriage. There were usual harassment and physical assault and on a relevant day, the husband is alleged to have strangulated the wife. His younger brother helped in wiping out the evidence against the husband.
The judges were irked to note that after killing the wife the husband made an attempt to show it as a suicide case. The bench noted that the one earing and anklet were missing from the deceased's person and also the marks on her body, the judges concluded, the same indicated the "struggle" of the wife while being strangulated.