Retired High Court judge Nooty Ram Mohan Rao is under a cloud following widespread outrage over an old CCTV footage showing his family beating up their daughter-in-law at their house in Hyderabad.
The disturbing footage of domestic violence, dated April 20, 2019, went viral soon after it surfaced on social media on Friday (September 20). The video shows the former judge of Hyderabad and Madras High Courts, his wife and his son physically assaulting the young woman in the presence of her two children in the living room of their house.
The woman seen in the video, Sindhu Sharma, had filed a police complaint on April 27, alleging dowry harassment, physical and mental torture by her father-in-law Ram Mohan Rao, his wife Durga Jayalaxmi and son Vasista.
However, she did not submit the video to the police then. Sharma (30) said she had decided to release the footage now to bring attention to the matter. She also demanded that the complaint be treated with urgency and the accused be put to trial.
She told a news website that she had decided to release the video only now after her husband filed for divorce. She said that she did not want to leave her children without the care of the father.
The family members of the former judge refused to comment on the video footage that clearly shows the woman being assaulted and pushed aside in the presence of her two children.
However, in an affidavit filed in the court in the past, they said that they were trying to restrain Sharma who had attempted to kill herself and was getting hysterical. It was a second suicide attempt by her on the night of the altercation and they had only tried to restrain her, the family said in the affidavit.
The CCTV footage strengthened the complaint lodged by Sharma. In the video, the family members are initially seen arguing but the verbal spat suddenly turns violent after a younger man, reportedly the judge’s son, violently pushes a woman, his wife Sindhu Sharma, and hits her.
As she gets up to retaliate, the older man, reportedly Ram Mohan Rao, tries to stop her by grabbing her arm and pushes her back on the couch. Meanwhile, a toddler, Sindhu Sharma’s daughter, is seen clutching her mother’s leg in the video.
Soon, another woman enters the room through the main door and they drag Sindhu Sharma onto the floor, and all the while the toddler watches her mother being thrashed, helpless and confused. After some time another child, Sindhu’s elder daughter, enters the room to see what was going on but is quickly sent back by her father.
“I was hit so badly that they had to finally rush me to the hospital. In the car too, they verbally and physically attacked me. I had collapsed after the attack and they had to carry me on a stretcher,” Sharma told a website.
Case in April
A case was registered against the former judge, his wife, son and their domestic help at the Central Crime Station (CCS) in Hyderabad on April 27.
She had named her husband and in-laws in the complaint, saying they had subjected her to cruelty and torture.
The case was filed under Sections 498A (cruelty by husband and relatives), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt) and 406 (criminal breach of trust) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Dowry Prohibition Act.
Several weeks after the incident, Sharma sought custody of her daughters, aged about 4 and 2. Both of them were witnesses to the assaults on their mother and are seen in the CCTV footage.
“The victim has not shared the video with the police. We had requested her in the past to share photographs or videos related to the case but she had refused then. Our investigating officer today again asked her to share the videos. We are awaiting a response,” a senior police officer said.
“We have issued notices under Section 41A [arrest without a warrant] of the Code of Criminal Procedure [CRPC] to the accused. The case is under investigation, witnesses have been examined,” he said.