Supreme Court: In the instant case, where the question arose that whether a husband’s extra-marital affair amounts to cruelty under Section 498A of IPC, the Bench of Dipak Misra and S.J Mukhopadhayay, JJ., observed that 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”, but it must be of such a nature as is likely to drive the spouse to commit suicide to fall within the Explanation to Section 498-A IPC. Harassment, of course, need not be in the form of physical assault and even mental harassment also would come within the purview of Section 498-A IPC. The Bench further observed that extra- marital affair if proved would be immoral and illegal, but it would take a different character altogether if the prosecution proves that the accused person’s conduct is such that it drove the wife to end her life.
As per the facts of the present case, the wife of one of the appellant (Rakesh) had committed suicide, allegedly after coming to know about her husband’s illicit relationship with another woman, thereby leading to the appellants’ conviction under Sections 498A, 306, 201 and 114 of IPC. It was argued by the appellants’ counsel Harish Raichura that the husband had already divorced the deceased before the suicide took place. The prosecution counsel Anurag Ahluwalia however contended that the husband’s extra- marital affair led to several arguments between them finally compelling the deceased to commit suicide. The appellants were found guilty by the Sessions Court and were convicted; further the conviction was upheld by the Gujarat High Court.
Perusing the facts and arguments in the present case, the Court observed that the issue involved in the present case is that whether the extra marital affair was a cruelty of such nature by the husband that it compelled the wife to end her life and whether such a situation is covered under the ambit of Section 498A of IPC. The Court on referring Section 498A of IPC and its decision in Pinakin Mahipatray Rawal v. State of Gujarat, (2013) 10 SCC 48, observed that if the extra- marital affair is of such nature, which is likely to drive the wife to commit suicide, then it would fall under the ambit of Explanation appended to Section 498A. The Court further stated that in the present case the evidence produced did not establish a high degree of mental cruelty caused by the husband’s extra- marital affair so as to attract the provisions of Section 498A of IPC. Ghusabhai Raisangbhai Chorasiya v. State of Gujarat, 2015 SCC OnLine SC 137, decided on 18.02.2015