Proof of Act needed in cases under abetment of suicide: Madhya Pradesh High Court

The Jabalpur Bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court while allowing the criminal Revision said that in cases of abetment of suicide, there must be proof of direct or indirect acts or incitement of commission of suicide.

Instigation means to goad, urge forward, provoke, incite, urge or encourage to do an act. Not preparing the food in time, compelling the husband to do the work of mopping, cleaning as well as washing clothes, dancing in the marriage of her own brother, cannot be said to be an abetment.

A Single Bench of Justice G.S Ahluwalia passed this order while hearing a Criminal Revision filed by Nisha Saket.

The Criminal Revision under Section 397/401 of Cr.P.C has been filed against order dated 18/07/2022 passed by Sessions Judge, Umaria, by which charge under Section 306 of IPC has been framed against the applicant.

The undisputed fact is that the applicant is the wife of deceased Preetam Saket, whereas respondent No 2/ Smt Radha Bai is mother-inlaw of the applicant. It appears that Preetam Saket committed suicide by hanging himself in his Government accommodation. Marg enquiry under Section 174 Cr.P.C was registered. Dead body was sent for postmortem. Statements of witnesses were recorded and thereafter Police registered the FIR against the applicant for offence under Section 306 of IPC.

The primary allegations against the applicant were that Preetam Saket had been appointed on compassionate grounds on 01/04/2014 on account of the death of his father. He got married to the applicant on 26/04/2016. When the applicant came back to her matrimonial house for the second time in the month of July, 2016, it is alleged that her behaviour towards her in-laws was not good.

Applicant was residing along with her husband (deceased) in Government accommodation No 6/1, Pali Project Pali. She was not preparing food for her husband in time. Sometimes her husband was compelled to go on duty without having any meals. Behaviour of the applicant was not good. When the husband of the applicant used to go on duty, then after leaving her child in the neighbourhood, she was in the habit of going to market along with other persons for shopping purposes. When Preetam Saket was resisting this conduct of the applicant, then she used to quarrel with him. In spite of the presence of the applicant in the house, the deceased was compelled to do mopping, cleaning and washing of clothes. Applicants used to go to her parental home without informing the deceased. Applicant used to watch crime patrol serial on TV and in spite of objection by her husband she used to quarrel with him. The deceased was giving Rs10,000/- per month to his mother which was being objected to by the applicant.

On 12/07/2021, the elder brother of the applicant got married. In the Tilak ceremony, the applicant was dancing. When her husband objected to her dance, she also quarrelled with him. On 18/07/2021, the deceased was not interested in going back to Pali but at the insistence of the applicant, he came back to Pali along with the applicant and children. On 19/07/2021 at about 2:51, applicant informed her brother-in-law (devar) on his mobile phone that his brother is no more and has committed suicide by hanging himself. Thus, it was alleged that on account of abetment by the applicant, deceased has committed suicide.

Challenging the registration of FIR as well as framing of charge under Section 306 of IPC, it is submitted by counsel for the applicant that even if the entire allegations are accepted, still no offence under Section 306 would be made out.

Per contra, application is vehemently opposed by counsel for the State submitted that the harassment at the hands of applicant has resulted in such a situation where deceased was left with no other option but to commit suicide. Accordingly, it is submitted that FIR as well as charge-sheet has been rightly filed for offence under Section 306 of IPC and charges have been rightly framed.

The Court noted that,

In the case of State of West Bengal vs Orilal Jaiswal and Another reported in (1994) 1 SCC 73, the Supreme Court has held that “This Court has cautioned that the Court should be extremely careful in assessing the facts and circumstances of each case and the evidence adduced in the trial for the purpose of finding whether the cruelty meted out to the victim had in fact induced her to end the life by committing suicide. If it appears to the Court that a victim committing suicide was hypersensitive to ordinary petulance, discord and differences in domestic life quite common to the society to which the victim belonged and such petulance, discord and differences were not expected to induce a similarly circumstanced individual in a given society to commit suicide, the conscience of the Court should not be satisfied for basing a finding that that accused charged of abetting the offence of suicide should be found guilty.”

The Court said that,

Not preparing the food in time, compelling the husband to do the work of mopping, cleaning as well as washing clothes, dancing in the marriage of her own brother, compelling the deceased to immediately go back to their place of resident i.e. Pali Project and going to the market along with other persons for shopping purposes, cannot be said to be an abetment.

The allegations which have been made against the applicant are of trivial nature which generally took place in every house. Even counsel for the complainant could not point out that even if the entire allegations which have been made against the applicant are treated as true, then how the offence under Section 306 of IPC would be made out. Even counsel for the State could not point out how the ingredients of abetment can be inferred in the light of allegations made against the applicant.

Even if the entire allegations are accepted, it cannot be presumed that there was any instigation on the part of the applicant. In cases of abetment of suicide, there must be proof of direct or indirect acts or incitement of commission of suicide. Acts involve multifaceted and complex attributes of human behaviour and reactions or in the cases of abetment, Court must look for cogent and convincing proof of acts of incitement of commission of suicide. Instigation means to goad, urge forward, provoke, incite, urge or encourage to do an act.

“If the allegations made against the applicant are considered in the light of law laid down by the Supreme Court, the Court is of the considered opinion that no case is made out warranting prosecution of the applicant.

Accordingly, charges under Section 306 of IPC which were framed by the Court below cannot be upheld”, the Court observed while allowing the Criminal Revision.  

Ex consequenti, the Court set aside the order dated 18/07/2022 passed by Sessions Judge, Umaria and applicant is discharged by the court.

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