Indian men who cheat on their wives could be convicted of domestic cruelty, India’s Supreme Court ruled Monday -- but only if it can be proven that the husband cheated as a way to drive his wife to kill herself, and the plan worked.
The court ruled in the case of Pinakin Mahipatray Rawal, a man who conducted an extra-marital affair with a colleague. He had been married to his wife for just under seven years when she committed suicide by jumping off a terrace.
Though she left a note saying that her husband was not responsible for her decision to take her own life, her note also mentioned the pain caused to her by his dalliance with the colleague.
Rawal was convicted of mental cruelty and of abetting his wife’s suicide. The high court in this country of 1.2 billion people overturned his conviction, saying that there was not enough evidence to prove that Rawal in fact conducted an affair with another woman but even if he did, he did nothing sufficient to cause his wife to jump to her death.
In an opinion written by Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan (pictured), the court ruled that if it were proven that a husband deliberately drove his wife to suicide by means of a sexual relationship with another woman, he could be subject to a three-year prison term.
Though India is a country known for its conservative sexual mores, attitudes toward extramarital relationships have relaxed of late. Psychiatrist Dr. Himanshu Saxena told the Times of India last month, “In arranged marriages, the spouses may not click, and look for options elsewhere. A liberal media and generally more openness with the opposite sex, such as colleagues, bring people closer emotionally and sexually."
In the same Times of India report, one man explained his lack of guilt over cheating on his wife, saying, “My wife has no reason to complain; I give her all that a loving husband would, but my girlfriend is my ideal companion and lover. And, one can't marry everyone they love, right?"
A woman in the article explained that her affairs are driven by a need for sexual thrills. Her husband, she said, “has a low libido and I don't want to lead the life of a nun; I am young and have my desires, so if it's a man that excites me, I simply have to go ahead."
SOURCES: Hindustan Times, Times of India, Daily Mail