New Delhi: The Delhi High Court has let off a man who was sentenced to one year jail term for allegedly cohabiting with his former wife without disclosing that he had secured an ex-parte divorce decree.
"The allegations at the most are that the man continued to have physical relationship with complainant by non-mentioning or suppressing the factum of divorce.
"From such non-mention or suppression of divorce, it cannot be said that he by deceit caused complainant to believe that she was lawfully married to him and to co-habit or have physical relationship with him in that belief," Justice Sunita Gupta said.
The man was held guilty by a lower court under section 493 (a man by deceit causing a woman to believe she is lawfully married and to cohabit with him in the belief) of the IPC.
Setting aside conviction, the high court said there was no representation from the side of the accused to make the woman believe that she continued to be his legally wedded wife.
It referred to the testimony of the woman that she had settled her disputes and did not want to pursue her complaint and the consequent case.
The accused and the woman married in May 1982 and she shifted to Delhi in 1993 which led her husband to file divorce plea with a court in Bhubaneshwar, the petition said.
Later, the man assured he would withdraw the divorce plea and they continued to live as spouses during 1996-98, it said.
However, the divorce plea, which remained pending, was allowed by the Odisha court on January 6, 1996 and later, the man deserted her in 1998, it said.
The woman then filed a case under IPC provisions dealing with offences including rape, harassment and fraudulent co-habitation.
The lower court absolved him of other charges except the offence of suppression of divorce and living fraudulently with her. The high court has now absolved him of that lone charge as well.