Husband can be jailed for affair, rules HC

Sentences a man to six months jail for subjecting his wife to mental cruelty

January 30, 2022 12:12 am | Updated 07:49 am IST - CHENNAI

If a man’s extramarital affair causes serious discord between married couple, then he can be convicted

If a man’s extramarital affair causes serious discord between married couple, then he can be convicted

If an extramarital relationship of a man causes serious domestic discord between the married couple, then he can be convicted for causing mental cruelty to his wife under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and sentenced to imprisonment, the Madras High Court has said.

Justice D. Bharatha Chakravarthy gave this ruling while confirming the conviction of Nakkeeran, alias Jeroan Pandi by a trial court in Tiruvannamalai district in November 2011. The judge, however, reduced the quantum of jail term from two years to six months of rigorous imprisonment.

Though it was argued on behalf of the convict that the Supreme Court in K.V. Prakash Babu versus State of Karnataka (2016), had held that extramarital relationship per se would not amount to subjecting wife to mental cruelty, the judge said the verdict must be read in its entirety.

Previous judgment

In that judgment, the top court held that solely because a person was involved in an extra marital relationship and there was some suspicion in the mind of the wife, it could not be regarded as mental cruelty to attract the offence of abetment of suicide under Section 306 of the IPC.

In the same decision, the Supreme Court had said the concept of mental cruelty depends on the social strata of the people involved, their individualistic perception and their level of endurance and sensitivity. The court said it would be difficult to generalise but it could be appreciated based on facts of individual case.

Taking a cue from those observations, Justice Chakravarthy said in the case before him, it had been proven through prosecution witnesses that the convict indeed had an extramarital relationship. The police had produced the birth certificate of a child born out of this relationship.

‘Affected mental health’

“Therefore, the court cannot close its eyes to the hard evidence and the facts of this case. The extramarital relationship has caused such an effect on the mental health of PW1 (wife) that it resulted in serious domestic discord, forcing her to leave her matrimonial home.

“Considering all the factors cumulatively, I hold that the action of the accused in having extramarital relationship which has caused grave mental trauma and affected the mental health of PW1 would certainly amount to cruelty to her under Section 498A of IPC,” the judge concluded.

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