The woman who dared to file a petition seeking to expand the ambit of Domestic Violence Act to cover atrocities by females was at the receiving end of violence from the women in her own family.
Kusum Harsora (54), an NRI who petitioned the Bombay High Court to make the Act more inclusive, said she was assaulted by her sister-in-law and niece. The 54-year-old was apparently told that she was being assaulted solely because of the petition she had “dared” to file. Kusum and her mother had last year complained against her brother Pradeep for harassing and slandering them.
The incident occurred on March 20. When Kusum approached the Gamdevi police with a bleeding nose and a bruised cheek, the police registered a non-cognisable offence (NC copy with MiD DAY) against Hiral Harsora (38) and her daughter Pooja (16).
“My sister-in-law Hiral and her daughter Pooja thrashed me badly. They are angry that I filed a petition against domestic violence. My nose began bleeding but when I went to the police, all they did was register an NC,” said Kusum, an architect based in the US but who had to come down last year to stay with her mother at Summerville at Bhulabhai Desai Road following the family dispute.
Said an officer on condition of anonymity, “She did not suffer any fracture. There was only bleeding from her nose. So we registered an NC.” Kusum’s petition in the Bombay High Court challenges the constitutional validity of section 2 (q) of the Domestic Violence Act, which allows cases to be filed only against men. According to the section, the definition of ‘respondent’ is limited to adult male members of the family.
A division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice Anoop Mohta has issued notice to the Attorney General of India seeking the Union government’s reply on the matter. The court also issued a notice to the Harsora family members, seeking a reply on the petition.
MiD DAY had earlier reported (‘Property war rips this family apart’, August 4, 2012) about how the Harsora family was caught in a bitter dispute over Rs 300 crore worth of property.
Kusum’s mother Pushpa Harsora (77) had earlier complained to several authorities (plaint copy with MiD DAY) against one of her three sons, Pradeep Harsora, for systematically harassing her to seize the property. As per the complaint, Pradeep and wife Hiral stopped giving her food and paying for her medical treatment to drive her out of the house. The feud had forced Kusum to return from the US to take care of her mother.
The other side
When this reporter called up Hiral and introduced himself, she disconnected the call and did not respond to further attempts to get in touch with her. Later, a man identifying himself as Hiral’s husband Pradeep Harsora, called up to say, “Don’t call my wife again. Go to the police or court and collect whatever documents you want.”