"Wife is not a chattel or an object", says Bombay HC

Recently, the Bombay High Court rejected the appeal filed by a 35-year-old man from Pandharpur, Maharashtra, who was convicted by a Sessions Court in 2016, u/s 304 and 201 of the Indian Penal Code.

Case Name- Santosh Mahadev Atkar vs The State of Maharashtra  [CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 544 OF 2019], 02-02-2021

This is a case of a man who flew into a rage because his wife refused to make him a cup of tea, and hit her head from behind, causing injuries which she succumbed to without giving a dying declaration. Unfortunately, such cases are depressingly common in India. 

What's uncommon is the wording of the Bom HC's order in this case. Some extracts are given below:

"It would not be out of place to observe that a wife is not a chattel or an object. Marriage ideally is a partnership based on equality. More often than not, it is far from that. There is an imbalance of gender roles, where a wife as a homemaker is expected to do all the household chores". 

Justice Revati Mohite Dere observed that “A wife is not a chattel or an object. Marriage ideally is a partnership based on equality. More often than not, it is far from that. ... Such cases reflect the imbalance of gender-skewed patriarchy, the socio-cultural milieu one has grown up in, which often seeps into a marital relationship. There is an imbalance of gender roles, where a wife as a homemaker is expected to do all the household chores. Emotional labour in a marriage is also expected to be done by the wife. Coupled with these imbalances in the equation, is the imbalance of expectation and subjugation. Social conditions of women also make them hand over themselves to their spouses. Thus, men, in such cases, consider themselves as primary partners and their wives, ‘chattel’.

The Hon. Judge concluded that the “submission of the learned counsel for the appellant that the deceased, by refusing to make tea for the appellant, offered grave and sudden provocation, is ludicrous, clearly untenable and unsustainable and as such deserves to be rejected”.

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Rajesh Haldipur
Rajesh Haldipur

Founder, Law Gyani

Rajesh is a qualified CA & CWA. He has served as a Director of PricewaterhouseCoopers, a Director of a large urban co-operative bank and Dean of a B-School over the years. He has taught Finance for over 20 years & trained participants from several Companies and B-Schools. He is an educator and a learner (he believes both are inextricably intertwined), and a knowledge product developer. Law Gyani, which he has founded to help Law Students with their exam preparations, and to understand nuances of the law.


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Shraddha Saxena
Shraddha Saxena

Law Student, Legal Intern at Law Gyani

Shraddha is a law student and the founder of Vidhik Sahara. She usually writes on prominent socio-legal issues.


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