Mere Suspicion of Extra-Marital Relationship By Husband Not ‘Cruelty’ To Attract Section 498A/306 IPC

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Case – K.V. Prakash Babu v. State of Karnataka, SLP (Crl.) No. 5928-5929 of 2016

Date of Decision– 22.11.2016

The Apex Court in K.V. Prakash Babu v. State of Karnataka, has held that solely because the husband is involved in an extra-marital relationship and there is some suspicion in the mind of wife that cannot be regarded as mental cruelty which could attract Section 498A/306 IPC.

Brief Facts: The prosecution case was that the wife felt extremely hurt and, eventually being unable to withstand the conduct of the husband who was allegedly involved in an extra-marital affair with another girl, put an end to her life. The High Court upheld the trial court judgment convicting him under Section 498A and also held him guilty under section 306 IPC for abetting his wife to commit suicide.

The Supreme court observed that even if the illicit relationship is proven, unless some other acceptable evidence is brought on record to establish such high degree of mental cruelty, the explanation (a) to Section 498-A of the IPC which includes cruelty to drive the woman to commit suicide, would not be attracted. “It is manifest that the wife was guided by the rumour that aggravated her suspicion which has no boundary”. The court also observed that there is no whisper with regard to any kind of ill-treatment or cruel behaviour by the husband other than the allegations of extra-marital relationship and said: “Extra-marital relationship, per se, or as such would not come within the ambit of Section 498-A IPC. It would be an illegal or immoral act, but other ingredients are to be brought home so that it would constitute a criminal offence. It will depend upon the facts of the said case. To explicate, solely because the husband is involved in an extra-marital relationship and there is some suspicion in the mind of wife, that cannot be regarded as mental cruelty which would attract mental cruelty for satisfying the ingredients of Section 306 IPC.” The court opined that if the husband gets involved in an extra-marital affair that may not in all circumstances invite conviction under Section 306 of the IPC, but definitely that can be a ground for divorce or other reliefs in a matrimonial dispute under other enactments.

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