Appellant-Siddaling prolonged an ‘illicit relationship’, all while he was freshly married. In an agreement before a Panchayat, Siddaling agreed to change. He never did. A ‘psychological imbalance’ for the wife led her to commit suicide. The Appellant stood convicted under Section 498A and 306 of the IPC and was sentenced to undergo imprisonment for 2 yrs and 5 years respectively. The SC in Siddaling v. The State, [Criminal Appeal No. 1606 of 2009] has refused leniency in the quantum of sentence.
The Court in the matter of Pinakin Mahipatray Rawal [(2013) 10 SCC 48] had conceded that “possibly, in a given case” a wife could seek compensation, in monetary terms, from the party who disrupts her marriage and alienates her husband’s affections.“Some intimacy”, it was judged, cannot amount to cruelty within the meaning of the Section 498A. It should not drive a woman to suicide.
Following Pinakin, in Ghusabhai Chorasiya, (2015) 11 SCC 753 it was reiterated that though an extra-marital relationship may be “illegal and immoral” – in the absence of some “other acceptable evidence on record” that can establish “high degree of mental cruelty”, the Explanation to Section 498A which includes cruelty to drive a woman to commit suicide, would not be attracted.
Siddaling was not involved in ‘some’ intimacy and indeed awarded a ‘high degree’ of mental cruelty by ignoring the agreement before Panchayat. The recent judgment of the SC is not incorrect. There should be further elaboration though on ‘alienation of affection’ in such judgments, such that every married woman knows how to win best, when facing an adulterous husband.