Adultery by itself is not cruelty to wife, says SC

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NEW DELHI: A person cannot be convicted for subjecting his wife to cruelty only on the basis of his extra-marital affairs, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday and acquitted a man whose spouse had committed suicide because of his alleged extra-marital relationship.

An extra-marital affair may be illegal or immoral, but it does not necessitate conviction of a husband for cruelty to his wife as "other ingredients are to be brought home so that it would constitute a criminal offence", the court said.


A bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Amitava Roy also said a spouse's infidelity wasn't enough ground for conviction under abetment to suicide charge. In this case, the woman (Deepa) killed herself after seven years of marriage, unable to bear her spouse's alleged extra-marital affair. Her mother and brother also ended their lives.

The court said the concept of mental cruelty depends upon the milieu and strata which the persons come. "Extra-marital relationship per se would not come within the ambit of Section 498-A IPC (subjecting wife to cruelty)," the bench said.


"There is no denying that cruelty need not be physical but a mental torture or abnormal behaviour that amounts to cruelty or harassment... It will depend upon the facts of the said case," the court said.





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