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File:Provoked - A True Story.jpg

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Provoked[wp] is a 2006 British film, directed by Jag Mundhra. It stars Aishwarya Rai[wp], Naveen Andrews[wp], Miranda Richardson[wp], Robbie Coltrane[wp], Nandita Das[wp] and Steve McFadden[wp]. The film is loosely based on the story of Kiranjit Ahluwalia who killed her abusive husband.
"Film based on a true story: the story of Kiranjit Ahluwalia (Aishwarya Rai), who left India to marry her husband in London. Apparently it was a dream life, living abroad, without financial problems, without any concerns and with a future ahead. Everything faded when she discovered her husband was an alcoholic and constantly subjected to physical and psychological. The situation was made worse by having two children.

Unable to bear the brutality and repeated rapes by her husband, her on fire and kills him. Charged with first-degree murder, sentenced to life imprisonment and detention. There she befriends her cellmate, a wealthy white woman, from learning English. This woman feels so moved by her story that she asks her brother, a senior lawyer, you take your case. The process reaches the ears of a diverse group of South Asian social workers, who manage an organization with few economic resources called Southall Black Sisters[wp]. They present their plight to the media by organizing rallies, to get public support and get their freedom.

It is ultimately freed by the judicial system, becoming a landmark case called Regina v Ahluwalia that redefined the word provocation in the case of battered women. Was reunited with her children and later, the wife of Prime Minister gave him an award for his fight against domestic violence."
"[Provocation - such gravity as to make a reasonable man commit homicide - sudden and temporary loss of self-control subjectively determined]
D, subjected to 10 years of spousal violence and degradation, threw petrol in her husband's bedroom and set it alight, causing his death.

Lord Taylor CJ:

  1. Only Parliament, not the courts, could permit a provocation defence in circumstances of 'a "slow-burn" reaction [to long-term spousal violence] rather than by an immediate loss of control'.
  2. '[T]he subjective element in the defence of provocation would not as a matter of law be negatived simply because of the delayed reaction in such cases, provided that there was at the time of the killing a 'sudden and temporary loss of self-control' caused by the alleged provocation. However, the longer the delay and the stronger the evidence of deliberation on the part of the defendant, the more likely it will be that the prosecution will negative provocation.'
  3. No evidence was adduced at trial that D suffered from a post-traumatic stress disorder or 'Battered Woman Syndrome', so as to effect the characteristics relevant to the reasonableness of D's actions under the second part of the provocation test.

The Court of Appeal admitted evidence at the appeal level, quashing the murder condition on the basis of D's depressive condition. At re-trial her plea of manslaughter by defence of diminished responsibility was accepted.

Not guilty of murder; retrial ordered"
"R v Ahluwalia (1993) 96 Cr App R 133 Court of Appeal

The appellant poured petrol and caustic soda on to her sleeping husband and then set fire to him. He died six days later from his injuries. The couple had an arranged marriage and the husband had been violent and abusive throughout the marriage. He was also having an affair. On the night of the killing he had threatened to hit her with an iron and told her that he would beat her the next day if she did not provide him with money. At her trial she admitted killing her husband but raised the defence of provocation however, the jury convicted her of murder. She appealed on the grounds that the judge's direction to the jury relating to provocation was wrong and she also raised the defence of diminished responsibility.


The judge's direction on provocation was correct. The Duffy direction was good law and the judge had directed the jury on the issue of the abuse suffered by the appellant and thus the jury would have considered the affect of this in reaching their verdict. The appeal on the grounds of provocation was therefore unsuccessful.

However, the appeal was allowed on the grounds of diminished responsibility. The Court did, however, stress that it was exceptional that fresh evidence would be allowed.

Lord Taylor CJ:

"Ordinarily, of course, any available defences should be advanced at trial. Accordingly, if medical evidence is available to support a plea of diminished responsibility, it should be adduced at the trial. It cannot be too strongly emphasised that this court would require much persuasion to allow such a defence to be raised for the first time here if the option had been exercised at the trial not to pursue it. Otherwise, as must be clear, defendants might be encouraged to run one defence at trial in the belief that if it fails, this court would allow a different defence to be raised and give the defendant, in effect, two opportunities to run different defences. Nothing could be further from the truth. Likewise, if there is no evidence to support diminished responsibility at the time of the trial, this court would view any wholly retrospective medical evidence obtained long after the trial with considerable scepticism.""
— - R v Ahluwalia,

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