The Delhi High Court today sought a response from the Centre on an Afghan woman's plea seeking sanction to prosecute for the alleged offence of bigamy by an Indian Army doctor who married her during his stay in Kabul and deserted her after coming back.
"Issue notice to the Centre (through Defence Secretary)," Justice S N Dhingra said and fixed the matter for March 8 for hearing on the plea of Bibi Sabera, a resident of Kabul. Sabera, who has come all the way from Afghanistan, has filed the petition seeking a direction to the Defence Ministry to accord sanction to prosecute Major Chandrashekhar Pant for alleged bigamy.
In the petition, filed through advocate Ravindra S Garia, she alleged Pant, who was earlier employed at Indira Gandhi Hospital in Kabul during 2005-2006, converted to Islam and married her in Afghanistan. "Pant, who was transferred back by the Army, returned to India with an assurance that he will return to Afganistan but he neither returned nor did he call her here," it said.
"When Sabera came to India on her own, she was surprised to find that Major Pant was already married and he refused to recognize her. Now a days, he is posted at 69th Mount Brigade Pithoragarh, Uttarakhand," it said. Sabera, in her petition, has referred to her various communications with the officials of the Home, External Affairs and Defence Ministries and alleged that despite assurances, sanction to prosecute her alleged estranged husband has not been accorded.
The CrPC provides that a serving army officer cannot be prosecuted unless the competent authorities grant the mandatory sanction in this regard. The woman, who is being assisted by the Embassy of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, has already lodged an FIR under relevant penal provisions dealing with the offence of bigamy at Pithoragarh in Uttarakhand.
She has also sought compensation for alleged trauma and inconvenience caused to her by the Army doctor. The Afghan mission here had also written to the MEA and sought co-operation in redressal of her grievances. Subsequently, she was asked to approach the MHA and then the Defence Ministry which so far has not decided the issue relating to the grant of sanction, the petition said.