New Delhi, Apr 6: Widening the scope of the phrase ''mental and emotional cruelty'' the Supreme Court has ruled that taunting a woman for her ugly looks or dark complexion amounted to mental cruelty which is worse than physical torture.
A bench comprising Justices Altamas Kabir and J M Panchal upheld the Madras High Court judgement confirming two years sentence imposed on the husband who constantly taunted his wife Fathima for her dark complexion. Taunting by the husband drove the wife to the extent of taking her own life within two months of their marriage in 1999. There use to be frequent fights between the couple as husband Farook Batcha did not like his wife because of her dark complexion.
The husband was sentenced to two years imprisonment by Madurai Sessions Court on the basis of the dying declaration made by the deceased that ''since my complexion was dark , my husband does not like me and there are frequent quarrels between us''.
The Madras High Court also upheld the decision of the trial court.
The apex court in its judgement delivered on April 4 said,''derogatory and contemptous remaks about a woman's dark cpmplexion which could be worse than physical torture for a sensitive person caused enough mental trauma to drive the accused's wife to take the extreme step.'' Till now, the state has enacted laws against caste based, religion based, regional based and gender based prejudices and the highest court of the land has added a new dimension to the concept of discrimination by holding that no one can be subjected to derogatory taunts for his or her looks.
The apex court rejected the contention of the husband that remarks made regarding the personality or complexion of his wife cannot be treated as mental torture and the apex court held the view that ridiculing wife by calling her black amounted to severe mental torture.
The conviction and sentence of the husband under section 498 A IPC (harassment for dowry) has been upheld by the apex court.