New Delhi: Mere extramarital relationship by the husband during the subsistence of the marriage will not amount to cruelty against the wife as contemplated under Section 498A IPC (cruelty), the Supreme Court has held. Giving this ruling a bench of Justices S.J. Mukhopadhaya and Dipak Misra acquitted the husband, his lover and his parents in a case registered against them for cruelty and abetment to suicide, committed by the first appellant’s wife.
Writing the judgement, Justice Misra said, “The mere fact that the husband has developed some intimacy with another during the subsistence of marriage and failed to discharge his marital obligations, as such would not amount to cruelty. “Mere extramarital relationship, even if proved, would be immoral. But it would take a different character if the prosecution brings some evidence on record to show that the accused had conducted in such a manner to drive the wife to commit suicide.”
In the case, the first appellant, Rakesh Ghusabhai Chorasia, was married to Biniben and they had two children. It was alleged by the prosecution that during the subsistence of the marriage, he had extramarital relationship and because of this “cruelty”, the wife committed suicide. A trial court in Gujarat awarded seven years imprisonment to Mr Chorasia, five years imprisonment to his father and three years sentence to his mother and paramour.
The Gujarat High Court dismissed the appeals. The present appeals are directed against this judgement. Allowing the appeals, the bench said, “The accused husband may have been involved in an illicit relationship with the appellant No. 4, Ms Jasuben. True, there is some evidence about the illicit relationship and even if the same is proven, we are of the considered opinion that cruelty, as envisaged under the first limb of Section 498A IPC would not get attracted.”