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Why did justice elude Tangamma?

Why did justice elude Tangamma?
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By Harshal N Mirashi

Tangamma had promised the author to pay fees after she got her maintenance amount from her husband. She had filed a legal complaint under the Domestic Violence Act in 2013, but justice had eluded her.

The author perused her complaint and other documents filed along with it, thoroughly. Her husband was gainfully employed with the Brihanmumbai Mahanagar Palika and was earning a handsome salary. He had brought a concubine home and told Tangamma to get out of the house.

After leaving her matrimonial home, Tangamma was staying in her parent’s house. The husband was not at all feeling guilty. The situation of Tangamma was pathetic as she hardly had any source of income, but had a child to bring up.

After going through the papers, the author found that no interim application had been filed. He immediately filed an interim application along with the complaint.

The said application was heard and the author came to know that Tangamma’s husband had told the court that he wanted to settle the matter amicably through mediation. He had thus been successful in misleading the court.

Tangamma’s husband never appeared in court but instead kept on seeking dates, and two years had gone by.

Ultimately, an order was issued in her favour from the magistrate’s court. The court awarded Rs 7,000 for her and her son. Tangamma was very happy to get an order in her favour and applied for the certified copy. Thereafter, she waited for her husband to pay the maintenance.

However, the husband did not pay a single rupee and merely attended around two-three hearings, citing some excuse or the other. The most unfortunate thing was the treatment meted out by the magistrate to Tangamma’s case. Despite the author’s fervent pleas, the sitting judge could not care less.

As a formality, the magistrate in the open court asked the husband of Tangamma whether he could pay some part of the maintenance, out of a huge arrear amount of Rs 1,25,000. But he agreed to pay only Rs 3,000. To make matters worse, the magistrate insisted that the amount be accepted.

Tangamma later received summons from the Sessions Court, related to appeals filed by her husband for setting aside the maintenance order. A year had gone by after the maintenance order was issued. As per the Domestic Violence Act, any related complaint has to be disposed of within six months. Tangamma being uneducated was not aware of the legal intricacies.

The appeal came up in the Sessions Court where Tangamma’s husband submitted a salary slip showing his salary as Rs 700. The appeal was dismissed. Tangamma was favoured by the court but justice had not been done as far as ensuring that she got her maintenance.

The author later appealed in the High Court through a writ petition but it was dismissed with no benefit accruing to Tangamma.

—The writer is an advocate

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