For all those scared of conviction in IPC 498A, because “my in-laws are powerful”, “my in-laws have connections”, “they have a false witnesses lined up”, and so on; this judgment may come as a relief. Or maybe not. Anyway, I am just reporting it. The key point is that conviction under IPC 498A needs mental cruelty of a kind likely to drive a wife to suicide.
The bench noted that the husband and wife had started living separately in the same house. “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. It would be difficult to hold that the mental cruelty was of such a degree that it would drive the wife to commit suicide,” it said.
Writing the judgment for the bench, Justice Misra said, “Mere extra-marital relationship, even if proved, would be illegal and immoral, as has been held by the Supreme Court earlier 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 instant case, the accused may have been involved in an illicit relationship with a woman, but in the absence of some other acceptable evidence on record that can establish such high degree of mental cruelty, the explanation to Section 498A which includes cruelty to drive a woman to commit suicide, would not be attracted.” The bench acquitted the accused.