In a verdict that could serve as a lesson to those dumping women after betrothal, the Madras High Court (Madurai Bench) has imposed a fine of Rs 75,000 on a man who chose to call off his wedding with an 18-year old girl suspecting that she was HIV Positive.
The money should be paid to the girl as compensation, Justice N Kirubakaran said while observing that a woman is neither a property to be sold in the name of marriage nor rejected as sub-standard good.
In the instant case, P Sevugan of Tiruppathur in Sivaganga district, had in April got engaged to Thamarai (name changed), who was 20 years younger to him and was slated to tie the knot on June 19.
However, Sevugan called off the wedding after learning that Thamarai’s parents had died of AIDS. He suspected that she too might have contracted HIV. Though at his behest she underwent a medical test and produced a certificate from a leading hospital in Madurai that she was healthy, he refused to marry her.
Thamarai then lodged a complaint against him at the Tiruppathur All Women Police Station (AWPS). Fearing arrest, Sevugan approached the High Court seeking a direction to the police not to harass him. He also alleged that Thamarai’s family members were threatening him to marry her.
In view of the contradictory claims, the judge had summoned the AWPS Inspector who submitted that Sevugan had clearly said that he was not interested in marrying Thamarai. On the court’s orders, the Inspector booked Sevugan under Section 4 of the Tamil Nadu Women Harassment Act on August 10 and subsequently after being pulled up by the judge she arrested him on August 20.
Despite the action, Sevugan refused to budge from his position after which the court directed him to at least compensate the girl. However, he claimed that he did not have any property. The judge then asked the Sudanipatti Village Administrative Officer to ascertain Sevugan’s net worth. The VAO appeared in the court and certified that the petitioner had assets worth Rs 2.26 lakh. The judge then directed Sevugan to pay Rs 75,000 to Thamarai.