A division bench of Bombay High Court held, marrying another woman while having an alive spouse is cruelty u/s 498A IPC.
From Para 5,
Atul and Ors Vs State and Anr on 30 Nov 2022
5. The cruelty prima facie handed out to non-applicant no. 2 did not stop at physically torturing non-applicant no. 2 but, it went beyond the physical state of pain in the sense that the husband i.e. applicant no. 1 with impunity performed marriage with another woman and that was done with the active aid and assistance of the rest of the applicants. When a husband performs the second marriage while his first marriage is alive, a question arises as to whether such act on the part of husband would amount to cruelty within the meaning of Section 498-A of the IPC. As per explanation to Section 498-A of the IPC, cruelty means; any wilful conduct of such a nature as is likely to drive the woman to commit suicide or to cause grave injury or danger to life, limb or health (mental or physical) of the woman. It also includes harassment caused with a view to coercing the woman or any person related to her to meet any unlawful demand for any property or valuable security. Here, we are concerned with wilful conduct of such a nature which has caused or which is likely to cause danger to health of non-applicant no. 2. Marrying another woman by the husband during existence of his first marriage is something which is most likely to cause trauma and grave injury to the mental health of the first wife, unless it has been done with the consent of the first wife. If the act of performance of second marriage during subsistence of the first marriage is not interpreted as amounting to cruelty contemplated under Section 498-A of the IPC, it would frustrate the legislative intent to prevent the torture to a woman by her husband or by relative of her husband and, therefore, that interpretation has to be adopted which sub-serves the object sought to be achieved by the Legislation. Useful reference in this regard may be made to the cases of B.S. Joshi and ors. Vs. State Of Haryana and anr. [2003 Cri L.J. 2028 (SC)] and Reema Aggarwal Vs. Anupam and ors. [(2004) 3 SCC 199]. By these parameters, we find here that the second marriage performed by applicant no. 1 while his first marriage with non-applicant no. 2 was on, prima facie amounted to cruelty. It has been further prima facie aggravated here when the applicant no. 1 made a false representation to other woman with whom he performed marriage during subsistence of the present marriage with non-applicant no. 2 that his first wife had died and the rest of the applicants i.e. both his parents, his siblings and also aunt joined in chorus with applicant no. 1. They falsely told the second woman that the first wife of applicant no. 1 had died. All these details have been graphically stated by the second woman in her statement recorded under Section 161 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 (for short the “Cr.P.C.”). She has also informed the police
that she too had lodged a criminal complaint against applicant no. 1 which was registered by Police Station, Imamwada, Nagpur for certain cognizable offences. Although, it is not known as to exactly which are those offences but, the fact remains that even the second wife of applicant no. 1 has lodged a criminal report against him.