A man who was thrashed by his wife and had recorded the abuse using spy cameras to present it as evidence in his divorce proceedings has won the case and the legal custody of his 11-year-old son, reports Mumbai Mirror.
Purushottam Mahajan, 44, who was locked in divorce and custody battle with his wife Pallavi for over two years, installed secret cameras at their Aarey Colony house to capture how she abused him physically in his son's presence. In November 2009, the video was uploaded on YouTube by an NGO to show how law was heavily loaded against men in cases of marital discord.
Eight months after the video went up, the Bandra Family Court last month handed over the custody of the child, Aum, to his father. The battered husband fought his case himself armed with the video evidence. He argued Aum's future was more secure in his custody than his wife's.
The couple got married in 1999, but the relationship soured within a year. Purushottam alleges that there were regular fights and he would often get beaten up. While he would talk about the violence to his friends, no one believed him.
Fed up of the violence and desperate to gather evidence, Purushottam, who claims to have worked with Subhash Ghai as an assistant director, installed a spy camera in his place.
The camera captured everything that went on in the house, including Purushottam's physical torture, for three months. What eventually went up on YouTube was an edited 30-minute video. The video that has no sound, shows Pallavi slapping and kicking Purushottam. It later shows them animatedly discussing something even as a child looks on.
On July 23, 2008, Pallavi left the couple's Aarey Colony house with Aum. Since the marriage had irrevocably broken, Purushottam filed for divorce and Aum's custody on July 27.
On August 29, Pallavi lodged a complaint of dowry harassment and torture against him at Dindoshi police station. However, Purushottam's spy video recordings and other evidence he presented in the court tilted the divorce and custody case in his favour.
During the two-year battle, Purushottam says he went through a lot. "I lost a job in a multi-national bank because cops would be constantly calling me. But I had decided, I would fight till the end as I loved Aum more than anything else. When I saw my lawyer was not arguing the case properly, I read law books and argued my case without a lawyer."
Purushottam meticulously collected evidence to make his case stronger. He showed the court how his child had suffered severe weight loss after his mother took him away.
"I presented medical evidence that also showed that he had injuries on his hands and legs and that he lived in unhygienic conditions. After he was separated from me, he wasn't sent to school for months," said Purushottam, who alleged in the court that he was not allowed to meet Aum on one pretext or the other even though the court had directed a meeting every fortnight.
His wife's lawyer, Amol Sutrale, who played a crucial role in bringing the couple to the negotiating table, said, "We realised there was no need to drag the case unnecessarily. I advised Pallavi and Purushottam to settle the matter. Pallavi agreed to give Aum's custody to Purushottam. Thus the matter was settled with mutual consent. At least, the child will not have to suffer anymore."