Mere demand of some article of an insignificant nature on a stray occasion by a husband from his wife does not amount to cruelty or harassment, the Bombay High Court has held while acquitting a man accused of abetting his wife's suicide.
"Harassment contemplated under Section 498(A) of the Indian Penal Code has to be of a persistent nature and is required to be in relation with an article or property of significant value," Justice P D Kode while upholding the acquittal of one Madhukar Kambari.
Madhukar was accused of harassing and abetting the suicide of his wife Vandana. The couple had married in May, 1995 but in November the same year, Vandana committed suicide by setting herself ablaze.
According to prosecution, Vandana had on two occasions complained to her father that she was assaulted at her matrimonial house after she failed to comply with her husband's demand of bringing hens from her father's house.
Madhukar's advocate G S Hiranandani, however, argued that Vandana had committed suicide not because of the alleged harassment but in a spur of rage after a fight with her husband.
"Every married couple fight often but committing suicide cannot be said to a result of harassment," he argued.
Accepting the argument, Justice Kode observed, "Merely because of some demand of an insignificant nature is followed by suicide committed by the victim it would not be covered within Section 498(A). The allegation against the accused is not that he made demand for property or some other valuable security."
"The entire evidence is confined to the accused having allegedly asked the victim to bring hen on two occasions.
Apart from the evidence being vague regarding the precise nature of harassment caused to the victim, it is difficult to perceive that the same can be construed as cruelty within the meaning of Section 498(A)," the court said.