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Meera’s family found Radheshyam’s story implausible. There was nothing on the ceiling to hang oneself from, they say. They approached the police. A dowry death case was registered and Radheshyam was arrested. Soon after, to everyone’s surprise, the rest of Radheshyam’s family, who were absconding, surrendered at the Achnera police station. They were arrested, and released on bail after a week. The case came up in the district and session judge’s court no 4 of RK Gautam. It dragged on for three years.
Enter Dr SK Gupta.

Risheshwar Gupta lost out on a flourishing business because his brother bribed Dr Gupta and got a certificate declaring him mentally unstable. Finally, a judge ruled that only his wife could have filed a complaint but by then his name was struck off the board of directors
At a hearing in court, the senior psychiatrist of the government’s Agra Mental Hospital testified for Yaduveer’s family. Gupta brandished a certificate that declared Meera was mentally ill. He submitted the piece of paper as evidence and listed names of medicines he had prescribed for her. Shocked, Meera’s family pleaded with the court that Gupta’s certificate be re-examined. Roshan says the judge turned down their appeal. He says the judge merely questioned Gupta on the validity of the certificate. He says that it was on the basis of that certificate that the accused were declared not guilty of murder, only of demanding dowry. He says that medical certificate was the “clinching evidence” that made the court rule that Meera had committed suicide. He says that when she was murdered, Meera was four months pregnant. And he says that beating Meera was a family affair for Yaduveer. Everybody used to join in.

Roshan, the distraught brother, approached the Agra Mental Hospital director, Dr Sudhir Kumar, against Gupta’s certificate. Kumar ordered a re-examination of the certificate and found it false. OP Gangil, the enquiry officer who is also a senior psychiatrist at the asylum, told Tehelka that his probe revealed that Gupta’s certificate was false. Roshan has appealed to the Allahabad high Court against the district court order. The appeal is pending. Roshan also questions the motives of judge RK Gautam. When contacted, Gautam told Tehelka that he was not allowed to speak to the media. Yaduveer decided offence was the best defence. “People from Tehelka are thieves themselves. They approach people with money and frame them on false charges,” he declared. Meanwhile, after Tehelka’s investigations created a furore in the state, Roshan says he will file a fresh fir against Gupta. He says the doctor took a bribe of Rs 40,000 to issue the false medical certificate.

The story of Deepti, from Allahabad, is similar, and yet different. Similar because hers too was a case of marriage-turned-hell for dowry. Different because against her, not one doctor, the system colluded. Her husband Sanjay, an Agra businessman, was ever in need of more dowry. He just had to beat Deepti up to make her family oblige. But Sanjay’s greed was not satisfied. Deepti’s counsel, Arvind Gupta, says Sanjay took his wife to a private psychiatrist and instructed the doctor to subject her to electric shocks.

Sanjay then admitted Deepti to the Agra Mental Hospital on December 13, 2001. Her family rushed to the hospital the following day. They approached Arvind, who instructed them to file a Habeas Corpus petition at the Allahabad High Court.

On December 24, the high court ordered the district judge of Agra to depute a judicial officer to visit the hospital and speak to Deepti as well as to the doctor incharge of the patient. The very next day, RC Mishra, the then Agra chief judicial magistrate, met Deepti in the presence of Dr JR Kalra and director Sudhir Kumar. Mishra found nothing wrong with Deepti.

According to Arvind Gupta, Mishra asked Kalra and Kumar for their opinion on Deepti’s mental status. He was told that an opinion could only be given after five days. Though they were unsure of her mental instability, they had — for nine days —been giving Deepti the shock treatment, says Arvind.

July 17, 2004

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