This post is a follow up of my earlier post Framed by wife, tortured by cops, threatened with sodomy by HIV+ prisoners – did he survive? which is a first person account of Aarav, who landed up in jail because his wife filed a case of domestic violence against him under Section 498A, IPC.
Aarav was jailed for 14 days pending investigation at the Alipore Central Jail, Kolkata, which Aarav claims was one of the highest days served by anyone behind bars in a case like this.Before that, for one day and one night he was at the police station.
The worst thing was since I was jailed people around me believed that I had been actually hitting my wife. In our society people pass their judgment on you long before the courts do. Even if they didn’t say it on my face I knew it was always on their mind. Dealing with this stigma was really harrowing.
- The 498A case dragged on for six years. The case was lodged at a police station in the suburbs of Kolkata. I had at least one appearance in the court every two months. I had got a job in Delhi and had moved there. Every two months I came all the way from Delhi to appear in court. I did that for six years.
- They also filed a case for alimony and litigation costs etc at the Alipore Court. This was in addition to the case of 498A. This also dragged on for six years and I had to keep a separate lawyer for this.
- She had good local contacts and got help from them but fighting the case from Delhi proved to be double hard for me.
- The 498A case went on for such a long time because every time I just had to file a hazira (mark my presence in court) nobody from the other side would be there. I remember that during the fifth year when nobody came to the court she was summoned by the court. When she didn’t respond to the court summons, a court warrant was issued. It was withdrawn later when she promised to appear in court.
- The real clincher was the case of compensation and alimony, litigation costs. The lower Alipore Court contended that since she was an earning lady, I needed to give her a one-time payment of Rs 15,000 only. I didn’t understand why I needed to give her any payment when she earned more than me and we both had ill parents to look after.
- My lawyer argued the case at the Calcutta High Court. It ruled in my favour and set aside the earlier court order. It ruled that I need not pay any money to her.
- The moment it became clear that there would not be any monetary benefit, a few months later her father met me at the court and offered to withdraw the case, but on one condition, I had to withdraw the case too.
- Criminal cases cannot be withdrawn. So she was cross examined at the court where she admitted that I had not hit her and that I was innocent. This is on record in front of the magistrate.
- The court passed an order that I am innocent and that there was not an “iota of proof against me”. It also commented that it was wrong on the police’s part to put me in jail without valid proof.
- The policemen who had hit me have now been transferred to remote areas of Bengal.
- The Alipore Court, after the High Court ruling which settled the financial issues, granted us a divorce too.