Setting aside a lower court's order,the Madras high court has said if a 'hypersensitive' woman commits suicide after being scolded and beaten by her husband for not doing household work properly, then the husband could not be prosecuted for abetment of suicide.
Setting aside the conviction and sentencing of one K Obuliraj by the trial court, Justice M Venugopal of the Madurai bench directed the trial court to repay the fine amount.
The Mahila court had sentenced him to three years rigorous imprisonment. "The act of scolding by no stretch of imagination could be termed to be an instigation (to commit suicide) in the opinion of this court," the judge said.
The judge said there should be a direct proof or evidence or indirect acts of incitement to the commission of suicide. Merely scolding the deceased wife on the issue of cleaning of the house and thereby treating her cruelly was not enough, the judge said.
The revenue divisional officer (RDO) had enquired into the death of the appellant's wife who had a nine-month-old daughter. His report was "clearly in favour of the appellant and mentioned that the deceased had not died due to dowry harassment...There was also no evidence that she was subjected to cruelty by her husband as defined under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code," the judge pointed out.
The only reason stated by the prosecution for her suicide was alleged ill-treatment by the appellant who reportedly scolded the woman and also beat her for stating that she would sweep the house only after completing her tailoring work.
Therefore, the conviction of the appellant on the charge of having abetted his wife to commit suicide "is clearly unsustainable", the judge said, setting aside the conviction and sentence.