“Imbibe work culture of the West, social culture of the East”

In a first-of-its-kind ruling in the 10 years since its inception, the Madras High Court Bench here on Wednesday concluded one of its judgement with a “moral” by stating that Indian youngsters living abroad should “imbibe the work culture of the West and social culture of the East, and not vice-versa if they want to succeed in life”.

Setting aside the seven-year rigorous imprisonment imposed by a lower court on an individual in a rape case lodged by his former live-in partner in Australia, Justice P.N. Prakash said the appellant “had brought upon himself his own ruination by his sheer indiscretion” by choosing to live with a woman before marriage.

The judge also said the complainant in the case was not an Indian village girl oscillating between adolescence and adulthood, caught in the grips of romantic fantasies exhibited in Indian films and television soap operas. She had obtained her bachelor’s degree in India and master’s degree in Australia where her father was running a restaurant.

She met the appellant, also an Indian citizen of Tamil origin, in Australia and decided to marry him. They had their betrothal in Sydney on September 7, 2007, and decided to wed on December 19, 2007. The proposed date of their marriage was also notified to the Registry of Birth, Deaths and Marriages as required under the Australian laws.

“They perhaps did not have patience to wait till December 19, 2007, and started living together even prior to their marriage. But the wedding did not take place as scheduled and after a gap of about two years, the appellant came to India for marrying another woman. The prosecutrix followed the trail and played spoilsport by lodging a complaint with the Tiruchi police,” the judge said.

Initially, a case of cheating was registered against the appellant and he was released on bail within five days of his arrest. Therefore, the woman pressed the charge of rape in a statement made before the police claiming that the appellant forced her to live with him in a separate rented shared household in Australia, and raped her there for the first time on the day of betrothal itself and several times thereafter.

Pointing out that the rental agreement had come into effect only on September 9, 2007, two days after the betrothal, the judge said: “Dictates of common sense states that one cannot search for a house, locate the house, negotiate with the landlord, enter into agreement and also move into a house on a one single day, especially September 7, 2007, being their betrothal day.

“The next question that nags my mind is, when the prosecutrix is an Indian girl of Tamil origin, why should she leave her parents immediately after the betrothal to have a shared household with the accused even before the wedding?

“Of course, live-in relationship is neither an offence in India nor in Australia, but it is definitely considered as a social taboo in India unlike in Australia. It is not her case that she wanted to have a rehearsal for a post-marriage celibate life like Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and Saradha Devi, and that all her dreams of blossoming into a Saradha Devi were spoiled by the accused by subjecting her to coitus.”

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