In a judgment with far reaching consequences, the Bombay High Court’s Nagpur Bench has directed the city police to book a Lucknow-based dentist for hiding his HIV-positive status from his wife before marriage.
The police had registered a case against Harshawardhan, and his mother, for allegedly torturing Meena (name changed), the niece of a Maharashtra cabinet minister, some months ago. But they had refused to book the dentist on the charge of hiding his condition from her, citing that there was no such law. That had prompted Meena's family to approach the high court.
A division bench instructed the police to book Harshawardhan under sections 308 (attempt to commit culpable homicide) and 420 (cheating) of the Indian Penal Code.
Harshawardhan and Meena got married in November 2000. He was HIV-positive before the marriage. Meena learnt the truth only when she herself tested positive for HIV in 2003. She also learnt that her husband was receiving treatment in Andhra Pradesh. When she confronted him, he and his parents allegedly began to torture her physically and mentally. She was even barred from contacting her parents in Nagpur.
Her father, a lawyer, finally got suspicious and went to Lucknow. Seeing Meena’s condition, he immediately brought her back to Nagpur where further tests confirmed their worst nightmare.
Meena’s father then lodged a complaint against Harshawardhan, his parents and sister. He told the police that not only did Harshawardhan pass on the virus to his wife, he and his family also ignored her when she fell ill. Suffering from multiple complications, Meena is currently being treated at a local hospital.
While giving its direction to the police, the high court pointed out that the police has no discretion in the matter. It has to register cognizable offences disclosed through the complaint, investigate the matter and then file a chargesheet in court against the accused.