The Madras High Court has held that a husband’s wilful conduct of having an extramarital affair and then forcing his wife to accept the same and to give money to sustain that affair, will amount to mental cruelty under Section 498A of Indian Penal Code [Dhananchezhiyan vs The State Represented By the Inspector of Police].
Single-judge Justice G Jayachandran, however, held that mere act of having extramarital affair will not be sufficient to hold a person guilty of abetment of suicide.
“The cruelty explained in the statute, includes both mental and physical. The wilful conduct of the applicant having extra martial affair with another married lady and forcing the deceased wife to accept his conduct and also to feed him money for his affair, can be termed as mental cruelty and harassment. Hence, this Court finds that the conviction of the accused under Section 498-A of IPC is perfectly legal and hence confirmed,” the judge said in his order passed on July 6.
The bench was hearing a criminal revision petition filed by a husband challenging an order passed by a trial court convicting him under Sections 498A (husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty) and 306 (abetment of suicide) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
As per the prosecution case, the husband was having an extra marital affair with a lady, with whom he eloped leaving his wife and three daughters.
After a few years, he returned to his house along with the other lady, and often assaulted the deceased wife asking her to bring money from her house.
On the fateful day, the husband and the other lady his wife beat up the wife and drove her out of the house along with his daughters. She left the house and pushed her children into an irrigating well and she too jumped into the well.
Two days later, 4 dead bodies were found floating in the well owner and same was informed to the police, leading to registration of the FIR.
As far as the charge of abetment of suicide was concerned, the bench noted that though the prosecution could prove its case of cruelty, the evidence on record fell short to prosecute the appellant husband.
“The depression caused by her husband’s extra marital affair was the cause for her to take the extreme decision to commit suicide. But, the very act of having extra marital affair is not sufficient to hold the accused is guilty of abetment. The prosecution has not laid any evidence that the husband aided or instigated the deceased to commit suicide. The evidence for prosecution has only proved that the mental cruelty caused on deceased pressurising her to get money from her parents to meet his expenses and his extra martial affairs satisfies the ingredient of Section 498-A of IPC,” the Court.
The bench, therefore, partly allowed his plea by acquitting him of the charge of abetment of suicide while upholding the charge of cruelty.
Advocate T P Prabhakaran appeared for the husband while Government N S Suganthan represented the state.