A day after judicial magistrate Pratibha Gautam was found hanging at her official residence in Kanpur’s Circuit House Colony, police on Monday arrested her husband, Delhi High Court lawyer Manu Abhishek, on charges of murder. Pratibha, who joined the judicial services in 2013, was posted as a judicial magistrate at Kanpur Dehat. According to police, she was almost four months pregnant and Manu wanted her to get an abortion. The two got married in January this year.
Pratibha’s post-mortem examination, conducted by a panel of four doctors, confirmed that she was strangulated and brutally assaulted, police said. Manu, son of of retired judge S C Rajan, has been sent to judicial custody. After Pratibha was found hanging, he had told police that she committed suicide. But her parents disputed his version and lodged an FIR against him.
“According to the post-mortem report, Pratibha was three-and-a-half months pregnant. She died of asphyxia caused by strangulation. There were 16 big and small injury marks caused by blunt object on her vital body parts. The body also exhibits signs of struggle. One of her wrists was severed eight times, and the other five times,” said Kanpur SSP Shalabh Mathur.
According to police, WhatsApp conversations between Pratibha and Manu suggested that they had been arguing over the pregnancy. Police said she wanted to keep the child, while Manu was insistent that she get an abortion.
Police further said that Pratibha went to Delhi on Saturday to meet Manu, but returned the same day after they had an altercation over the issue. Police suspect Manu was the lone assailant, SSP Mathur said. He has been booked under IPC sections 302 and 304 B (dowry).