In a case that shines a distressing spotlight on bigamy and domestic violence, 35-year-old Ravi Bhushan has been sentenced by the Hamilton District Court. The charges are no small matter. Bhushan faced the seldom-seen charge of bigamy and additional offences of strangulation and intent to injure his newly pregnant wife.
The bigamy case can be traced back to 2016. Bhushan, who had already married a woman in New Zealand in 2014, tied the knot with another in India and brought her back to his home country. This, despite the fact that he was still legally married to his first wife. It’s worth noting that Bhushan first arrived in New Zealand as a student in 2012 and became a citizen in 2015.
Taking the audacity a step further, while still officially married to the first wife, he advertised for a bride in the local NZ Tasveer Punjabi newspaper in January 2016. He received a response the same month, and before long, he found himself engaged. The couple traveled to India and proceeded to marry in an elaborate Sikh ceremony, the bride unaware of Bhushan’s marital status.
Bhushan maintained his double matrimonial life until December 2017, when he dissolved his first marriage in the Tauranga Family Court. His bigamy came to light, and charges were pressed on December 30 the following year.
When interrogated, Bhushan attempted to lessen his culpability by stating his first marriage was only a tradition and bore no legal weight in India.
In addition to bigamy charges, Bhushan faced accusations of abuse against his second wife. Two separate altercations were brought to light. The first altercation took place in July 2021, with Bhushan attacking his wife with a belt that resulted in her struggling to breathe.
Another incident occurred in December that same year. It is alleged that an innocuous enquiry by his wife about dinner escalated into violence, resulting in her being punched multiple times in her lower back. In her attempt to escape, Bhushan allegedly pursued, captured, and suffocated her until her breath became shallow.
In defense, Bhushan remarkably claimed that his wife “always screams for no reason”. The hearings were briefly adjourned earlier to facilitate discussions between the police and defense. This was after Bhushan denied his assault on his pregnant wife led to her miscarriage.
The defense advocate, Martin Dillon, underscored that this claim had been excluded from the agreed summary of facts. He also mentioned Bhushan’s expression of remorse and his early admission of guilt as potential points of consideration. Dillon pushed for leaner sentencing, banking on Bhushan’s otherwise good character in both India and New Zealand. Dillon also pointed out Bhushan’s completion of an anger management course, and his feelings of grief over the miscarriage.
Refuting these arguments, Judge Noel Cocurullo highlighted the lasting impact of Bhushan’s actions on the victim, emphasizing the continued devastation she was experiencing. After factoring in various elements, the judge sentenced Bhushan to 25 months in jail.
Due to time already served, he would be a candidate for immediate parole.
After the trial, the victim’s sister spoke out, stating that the victim was still suffering physically and emotionally from Bhushan’s actions. She contested Bhushan’s rationale for bigamy, challenging his implication that unmarried couples are uncommon in Punjab. The implication has ramifications beyond this individual case, shedding light on the enduring struggle against domestic violence and bigamy.