Demanding money from the wife does not amount to cruelty, the Bombay High Court said while suspending the sentence of a man convicted for abetting the suicide of his wife. Ajay Tripathi had been sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for seven years by a trial court, which acquitted his father and brother-in-law, the co-accused in the case.
Justice A M Badar, while suspending the sentence, said the allegations of demand of sexual favour by the co-accused did not find favour with the trial court. Advocate Sujit Shelar, appearing for Tripathi, told the HC that the evidence against the accused was vague and did not point to abetment to suicide.
The allegation against Tripathi was that he demanded money from the deceased for purchasing a house. Shelar also said that allegations of demands of sexual favour were made against Tripathi’s brother-in-law, even though he resided separately.
The accused were out on bail during the pendency of the trial. The court, after considering all the submissions, said, “‘Cruelty’ as explained in explanation to Section 498A of the IPC implies harsh and harmful conduct of certain intensity and persistence. It covers acts causing both physical as well as mental agony, torture and tyranny to a married woman.”
“To establish cruelty, acts of accused person must put the victim thereof to intense miseries and woes stirring up her feelings that life is not worth living and she should die.”
Based on this, the court observed that the deceased was not under any mental agony and the circumstance did not point to ill-treatment.
The court pointed out that the allegations were to the effect that the accused persons were demanding money from the woman for purchasing a house and it is alleged that the co-accused who are acquitted by the trial court were demanding sexual favours from the deceased.
“Prima facie, it is not seen that for forcing the deceased to bring amount, there was ill-treatment as envisaged by explanation to Section 498A of IPC. Averments regarding demand of sexual favours could not find favour with the learned trial Judge because except the accused husband, all co-accused are already acquitted,” held the court suspending the sentence, stating that
Tripathi deserved liberty during the pendency of appeal filed by him.