Religious Rites Affecting Dignity Of A Person Are Inhuman, Says Madras HC On Exorcism

| June 20 , 2018 , 13:06 IST

The Madras High Court on Wednesday said that any religious rite which causes pain, suffering and affects the dignity of a person cannot be justified even if that rite has been followed for a long period, and it should be considered inhuman, attracting penal punishment.

The observation from Justice N Anand Venkatesh of the Madras High Court came while allowing an appeal filed by 4 women punished by a trial court for their involvement in the exorcism of their daughter-in-law.

“A strong message must be sent to society that cruel acts in the name of religious rite will not be tolerated and will be dealt with severely by courts. It is time that courts send a strong message to the society that such grotesque acts will not be tolerated, and courts will not turn a blind eye when such incidents are brought to its notice,” Justice Venkatesh said.

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According to the prosecution, the daughter-in-law of the accused who was alleged of being possessed was forcibly taken to the Thoppiyar Dam of Tamil Nadu at midnight on February 12, 2001 where she was stripped, had her head shaved and her tongue branded with a red-hot needle. Her mangulsutra was removed and then later fastened again by her husband who was present during the midnight ordeal.

The victim and her father filed a complaint and a case was registered by the all-women police station in Dharmapuri on February 17.

The accused, Chinnaponnu and three others were sentenced to undergo one-year rigorous imprisonment by the judicial magistrate II Dharampuri. In 2010, principal sessions judge, Dharmapuri confirmed the order and the accused filed an appeal.

As the revision plea came for hearing, the judge took into account the passage of 17 years from the date of the incident as well as the present date of the accused and modified the sentence of one-year imprisonment to a term that had already been completed by them.