Husband’s illicit relationship is not always cruelty: Supreme Court Acquited Appellants Due to Lack of Evidence to Prove Mental Cruelty U/S 498a
Bench: Justice Deepak Misra And Sudhanshu Jyoti Mukhophadya,
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 262 OF 2009
The present appeal was preferred before the Honorable Supreme Court against the findings of learned Additional Sessions Judge, Jamnagar and High court of Gujrat at Ahmedabad where the appellants were convicted u/s 498 A, 306, 201 and 114 of Indian Penal Code.
The prosecution case was that the Accused 2, Rakesh had an extra marital affair with accused 4 Jasuben, a divorcee. This illicit relationship shattered his marital relation with his deceased wife Biniben. Biniben committed suicide on 4/3/04 by consuming poison. The death of the deceased was known to her parents only on 17/3/04. After the knowledge of her suicide her mother filed complaint at Jamnagar police station and pursuant to the statement of 21 witnesses the police filed charge sheet u/s 498 A, 306, 201 and 114 of IPC against father-in -law of the deceased as accused 1, husband as Accused 2, mother-in-law as accused 3 and Jasuben as Accused 4. The elder brother and wife of accused 2 were exonerated by the trial court due to lack of evidence against them. Other accused were convicted by the trial court and they preferred appeal in the High court The Honorable high court also upheld the conviction of the trial court. Against the finding of high court the appellants moved appeal before the Apex court. Mr Harish Raichura appeared for the appellant and Mr Anurag Ahluwalia appeared for the state.
The Bench presided over by Justice Sudhanshu Jyoti Mukhophadya and Justice Deepak Misra had scrutinized minute aspects of the sections the appellants have been charged, and with reference of similar citations reached the conclusion to acquit the appellants on the following findings.
The SC observed that the prosecution had produced and based on the deposition of PW 21 the sister of the deceased it was quite clear the deceased had obtained a divorce with 2nd accused and stayed on the terrace of the house. She had also intimated that after the festival of Holi she will return to her parental house.
The apex court further analyzed whether the charges framed u/s of IPC is applicable to the appellants in the instant case. The alleged charges of mental cruelty inflicted on the deceased by her husband owing to his extramarital affair wouldn’t attract Section 498 A as the cruelty defined in the section require proper evidence of such imposition of harassment on the deceased. The court observed that the in laws of the deceased were alleged to take her daily earnings but that was also not proved. Any torture stated in Section 498 A and demand of dowry is not committed by accused and hence alleged cruelty by them in laws is also not proved and does not attract the explanation cruelty or harassment in section 498 A.
The endurance of mental cruelty depends on the mental status of each individual as per the court and the Bench affirmed that a fact of husband having an illicit relation imposed mental cruelty on the deceased is not proved by any strong undeniable evidence or fact. Another point of consideration by the court was the element of abetment or instigation u/s 306. Court observed that the suicide note of the deceased states that she was possessive about her husband and due to emotional stress she relieved her husband through the act of suicide that does not come under the ambit of abetment stated in section 306.
On the conclusion Apex Court has found that the accused appellants are not guilty u/s 306 and 498A of IPC hence the conviction is not sustainable u/s 201. The appellants were acquitted on the light of the above findings and the bail bonds of the appellants are subject to be discharged.
For reaching the final conclusion Court had referred cases of similar circumstances of Girdhar Shankar Tawade Vs. State of Maharashtra, (2002) 5 SCC 177 and Gurnaib Singh Vs. State of Punjab, (2013) 7 SCC 108 .
by Dhanya R
See Original Judgement:Ghusabhai Raisangbhai Chorasiya & Ors Vs State of Gujarat on 18th February 2015