Bigamous Man Sentenced after Violently Assaulting Pregnant Wife

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In a disturbing case of bigamy and family violence, Ravi Bhushan, a 35-year old man, was convicted in Hamilton District Court and sentenced to jail. Bizarrely, Bhushan defended his actions by stating that his Punjabi culture does not traditionally recognize boyfriend-girlfriend relationships, and insisted he was not concurrently living with his two wives.

Bhushan faced a series of charges relating to bigamy and violence towards his pregnant wife, which included strangulation and assault. His entanglement with bigamy began in 2016 when he married a woman in India and relocated with her back to New Zealand, despite being legally wedded to another woman in New Zealand in 2014.

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Court records revealed that Bhushan initially arrived in New Zealand on a student visa in 2012 and gained citizenship in 2015. Even though he was still officially married to his first wife, he sought another bride in 2016 through an advertisement in the local NZ Tasveer Punjabi newspaper circulated amongst the Indian community.

His advertisement garnered the attention of a woman who contacted him, got engaged to him in New Zealand, and travelled with him to India in December 2016. There, they tied the knot in a grand ceremony involving traditional Indian attire at a Sikh temple. Unbeknownst to the woman, Bhushan was already a married man, a fact he hid until December 1, 2017, when he eventually dissolved his initial marriage in Tauranga Family Court. It was only on December 30 of the following year that he was officially charged with bigamy.

Following his arrest, Bhushan defended himself by explaining that his first marriage was “only a traditional marriage and has no legalities in India.” Furthermore, he was implicated in violence against his second wife, which came to light following two separate incidents at their Hamilton home. His aggressive altercations with his wife included choking, verbal abuse, and physical assault. His troubling explanation to authorities was that his wife “always screams for no reason.”

In considering his defense, Bhushan’s counsel sought to highlight his client’s previous good character, completion of an anger management course, and his client’s “own sense of loss and grief” due to a miscarriage his wife had suffered. Bhushan plead guilty at an early stage, but minimized his offending and failed to express remorse.

Judge Noel Cocurullo underlined the profound and long-lasting impact of Bhushan’s heinous acts on the victim. Bhushan was sentenced to twenty-five months imprisonment, and, having been in custody since March, is nearly immediately eligible for parole.

Outside the court, the victim’s sister voiced her anger and despair about her sister’s trauma, which continues to haunt her. Contrary to Bhushan’s claim, the sister disputed that there are many couples in Punjab practicing the tradition of cohabitation without marriage.

Bhushan’s case is a chilling reminder of the vulnerability many women face in situations of domestic abuse. Further information around family violence support is signposted in several organizations across the country ensuring people at risk can access the help they need.