Supreme Court of India
State Of Punjab vs Iqbal Singh And Ors on 10 May, 1991
Chapter V of the Penal Code is entitled `Of Abetment' and comprises sections 107 to 120 of which we may notice sections 107 and 108 only. `Abetment' as defined by section 107 comprises (i) instigation to do that thing which is an offense (ii) engaging in any conspiracy for the doing of that thing and (iii) intentionally aiding by any act or illegal omission the doing of that thing. Section 108 defines an abettor as a person who abets an offence or who abets either the commission of an offence or the commission of an act which would be an offence. The word `instigate' in the literary sense means to incite, set or urge on, stir up, goad, foment, stimulate, provoke, etc. Since there is no question of parties being engaged in any sort of conspiracy we have to consider whether there was any intentional aiding for committing suicide. The dictionary meaning of the word aid is to give assistance, help, etc.
Supreme Court of India
Chitresh Kumar Chopra vs State on 10 August, 2009
to constitute "instigation", a person who instigates another has to provoke, incite, urge or encourage doing of an act by the other by "goading" or "urging forward". The dictionary meaning of the word "goad" is "a thing that stimulates someone into action: provoke to action or reaction" (See: Concise Oxford English Dictionary); "to keep irritating or annoying somebody until he reacts" (See: Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary - 7th Edition). Similarly, "urge" means to advise or try hard to persuade somebody to do something or to make a person to move more quickly and or in a particular direction, especially by pushing or forcing such person. Therefore, a person who instigates another has to "goad" or "urge forward" the latter with intention to provoke, incite or encourage the doing of an act by the latter. Where the accused by his acts or by a continued course of conduct creates such circumstances that the deceased was left with no other option except to commit suicide, an "instigation" may be inferred.
In other words, in order to prove that the accused abetted commission of suicide by a person, it has to be established that: (i) the accused kept on irritating or annoying the deceased by words, deeds or wilful omission or conduct which may even be a wilful silence until the deceased reacted or pushed or forced the deceased by his deeds, words or wilful omission or conduct to make the deceased move forward more quickly in a forward direction; and (ii) that the accused had the intention to provoke, urge or encourage the deceased to commit suicide while acting in the manner noted above. Undoubtedly, presence of mens rea is the necessary concomitant of instigation.
Supreme Court of India
Netai Dutta vs State Of West Bengal on 28 February, 2005
The parameters of the "abetment" have been stated in Section 107 of the Indian Penal Code. Section 107 says that a person abets the doing of a thing, who instigates any person to do that thing; or engages with one or more other person or persons in any conspiracy for the doing of that thing, if an act or illegal omission takes place in pursuance of that conspiracy, or the person should have intentionally aided any act or illegal omission. The explanation to Section 107 says that any willful misrepresentation or willful concealment of a material fact which he is bound to disclose, may also come within the contours of "abetment".
Chitresh Kumar Chopra v. State (Govt. of NCT of Delhi) 2009 (16) SCC 605, had an occasion to deal with this aspect of abetment. The court dealt with the dictionary meaning of the word "instigation" and "goading". The court opined that there should be intention to provoke, incite or encourage the doing of an act by the latter. Each person's suicidability pattern is different from the others. Each person has his own idea of self- esteem and self-respect. Therefore, it is impossible to lay down any straight-jacket formula in dealing with such cases. Each case has to be decided on the basis of its own facts and circumstances.
Ramesh Kumar v. State of Chhattisgarh (2001) 9 SCC 618, in which a three-Judge Bench of this court had an occasion to deal with the case of a similar nature. In a dispute between the husband and wife, the appellant husband uttered "you are free to do whatever you wish and go wherever you like". Thereafter, the wife of the appellant Ramesh Kumar committed suicide. This Court in paragraph 20 has examined different shades of the meaning of "instigation'. Para 20 reads as under:
"20. Instigation is to goad, urge forward, provoke, incite or encourage to do "an act". To satisfy the requirement of instigation though it is not necessary that actual words must be used to that effect. or what constitutes instigation must necessarily and specifically be suggestive of the consequence. Yet a reasonable certainty to incite the consequence must be capable of being spelt out. the present one is not a case where the accused had by his acts or omission or by a continued course of conduct created such circumstances that the deceased was left with no other option except to commit suicide in which case an instigation may have been inferred. A word uttered in the fit of anger or emotion without intending the consequences to actually follow cannot be said to be instigation."
42. In the said case this court came to the conclusion that there is no evidence and material available on record wherefrom an inference of the accused-appellant having abetted commission of suicide by Seema (appellant's wife therein) may necessarily be drawn.
Gangula Mohan Reddy V. State of Andhra Pradesh , reported in (2010)(1) SCC 750, while interpreting Section 306 I.P.C. held that abetment involves a mental process of instigating a person or intentionally aiding a person in doing of a thing and without a positive act on the part of the accused to instigate or aid in committing suicide, there cannot be any conviction. It was further held that to attract Section 306 I.P.C. there has to be a clear mens rea to commit the offence.
In Som Nath Thapa & Ors. , a three-Judge Bench of this Court explained the meaning of the word "presume". Referring to dictionary meanings of the said word, the Court observed thus:
"...if on the basis of materials on record, a court could come to the conclusion that commission of the offence is a probable consequence, a case for framing of charge exists. To put it differently, if the Court were to think that the accused might have committed the offence it can frame the charge, though for conviction the conclusion is required to be that the accused has commuted the offence. It is apparent that at the stage of framing of charge, probative value of the materials on record cannot be gone into; the materials brought on record by the prosecution has to be accepted as true at that stage".
In Madan Mohan Singh v. State of Gujarat and another (2010) 8 SCC 628 the deceased was a driver who had undergone a bypass surgery and was advised against performing any stressful duties. The accused was a superior officer who had rebuked the deceased harshly and threatened to suspend him when the deceased had failed to comply with his directions. The deceased thereafter committed suicide and left behind a suicide note stating that the accused was solely responsible for his death. In these facts, this Court held that there must be allegations to the effect that the accused had either instigated the deceased in some way to commit suicide or had engaged with some other person in conspiracy to do so or that the accused had in some way aided any act or illegal omission to bring about the suicide. The prayer for quashing preferred by the accused was accepted by this Court and the proceedings were quashed.
In Praveen Pradhan v. State of Uttaranchal and another (2012) 9 SCC 734 show that a junior officer was allegedly compelled by the superior to indulge in several wrongful practices at the work place; the junior officer was not comfortable in complying with such orders, as a result of which the junior officer was harassed and insulted on regular intervals and disgraced in front of the staff of the entire factory and rebuked with comments such as “had there been any other person in his place he would have died by hanging himself.” The junior officer committed suicide leaving behind a note detailing all the incidents and asserting against his superior. In these circumstances prayer for quashing was rejected by this Court.
Supreme Court of India
Vaijnath Kondiba Khandke vs The State Of Maharashtra on 17 May, 2018
One Kishor Parashar serving in the office of the Deputy Director of Education Aurangabad, committed suicide on 08.08.2017 in his house. His wife made a complaint to the police that her husband was suffering from mental torture as his higher officers were getting heavy work done from her husband which required him to work from 10.00 am to 10.00 pm; that her husband would be called at odd hours and even on holidays to get the work done; that officer named Vaijnath Kondiba Khandke (the appellant) had stopped his salary for one month and was threatening her husband that his increment would be stopped; that one of the co-worker named Ghorpade Madam used to get her work done from her husband; that because of the pressure of work her husband used to remain silent and that these two persons were responsible for the suicide committed by her husband.
Held : There is no suicide note left behind by the deceased and the only material on record is in the form of assertions made by his wife in her reporting to the police. It is true that if a situation is created deliberately so as to drive a person to commit suicide, there would be room for attracting Section 306 IPC. However, the facts on record in the present case are completely inadequate and insufficient. As a superior officer, if some work was assigned by the applicant to the deceased, merely on that count it cannot be said that there was any guilty mind or criminal intent. The exigencies of work and the situation may call for certain action on part of a superior including stopping of salary of a junior officer for a month. That action simplicitor cannot be considered to be a pointer against such superior officer. The allegations in the FIR are completely inadequate and do not satisfy the requirements under Section 306 IPC. In our view, the facts in the present case stand on a footing better than that in Madan Mohan Singh (supra) and there is absolutely no room for invoking provisions of Section 306 IPC. We are of the firm view that the interest of justice demands that the proceedings initiated against the appellant are required to be quashed.
As a superior officer, if some work was assigned by the applicant to the deceased, merely on that count it cannot be said that there was any guilty mind or criminal intent. The exigencies of work and the situation may call for certain action on part of a superior including stopping of salary of a junior officer for a month. That action simplicitor cannot be considered to be a pointer against such superior officer. The allegations in the FIR are completely inadequate and do not satisfy the requirements under Section 306 IPC.”
In Swamy Prahaladdas v. State of M.P. & Anr., (1995) Supp (3) SCC 438, a similar question arose before this Court wherein one Sushila Bai, a married woman allegedly had two paramours. There was sexual jealousy between the two. Sushila had managed to completely bewitch one of them. In one fine morning, while Sushila Bai was having her morning tea with both her paramours, they began to quarrel. During the course of such quarrelling, one of them made a remark asking the other “to go and die”. The other person to whom such remark was made, went home very dejected and thereafter, committed suicide. This Court held as under:
“In the first place, it is difficult in the facts and circumstances, to come to even a prima facie view that what was uttered by the appellant was enough to instigate the deceased to commit suicide. Those words are casual in nature which are often employed in the heat of the moment between quarrelling people. Nothing serious is expected to follow thereafter. The said act does not reflect the requisite mens rea on the assumption that these words would be carried out in all events. Besides, the deceased had plenty of time to weigh the pros and cons of the act by which he ultimately ended his life. It cannot be said that the suicide by the deceased was the direct result of the words uttered by the appellant.”
In Sanju @ Sanjay Singh Sengar v. State of M.P., AIR 2002 SC 1998, a quarrel had taken place between the accused and the deceased during which, the accused asked the deceased “to go and die”. A chargesheet was filed against the accused under Section 306 r/w Section 107 IPC when the said person actually committed suicide. This Court dealt with the issue elaborately, taking into consideration the fact that the accused had also specifically been named in the suicide note left behind by the deceased, and held that merely asking a person “to go and die” does not in itself amount to instigation and also does not reflect mens rea, which is a necessary concomitant of instigation. The deceased was anyway in great distress and depression. The other evidence on record showed him to be a frustrated man who was in the habit of drinking. Thus, considering the said circumstances, this Court quashed the proceedings against the accused, holding that ingredients of abetment were not fulfilled therein.
In Madan Mohan Singh v. State of Gujarat & Anr., (2010) 8 SCC 628, this Court re-examined this question, in a similar case, involving Sections 306/107 IPC, wherein the deceased left a suicide note stating that the accused was solely responsible for his death. The deceased in this case, was a driver in the Microwave Project Department. He had undergone a bypass surgery for his heart, just before the occurrence of such incident and his doctor had advised him against performing any stressful duties. The accused was a superior officer to the deceased. When the deceased failed to comply with the orders of the accused, the accused became very angry and threatened to suspend the deceased, rebuking him very harshly for not listening to him. The accused also asked the deceased how he still found the will to live, despite being insulted so. The driver after all this, committed suicide. This Court found that such incident was a one time occurrence. For the purpose of bringing home any charge, vis-à-vis Section 306/107 IPC against the accused, this Court stated that there must be allegations to the effect that the accused had either instigated the deceased in some way, to commit suicide or had engaged with some other persons in a conspiracy to do so, or that the accused had in some way aided any act or illegal omission to cause the said suicide. In the said case, this court, after assessing the material on record, found that the deceased was suffering from mental imbalance which caused depression. The accused had never intended for the deceased employed under him to commit suicide. This court observed that if the making of observations by a superior officer, regarding the work of his subordinate, is termed as abetment to suicide, it would become almost impossible, for superior officers to discharge their duties as senior employees.
It would have to be objectively seen whether the allegations made could reasonably be viewed as proper allegations against the appellant/accused to the effect that he had intended or engineered the suicide of the concerned person by his acts, words etc. (if it fails this test , FIR can be quashed under 482 as was quashed in this case)
In the case Amalendu Pal v. State of W.B.: (2010) 1 SCC 707, Supreme Court, after reference to several past decisions, held as follows:- "12. Thus, this Court has consistently taken the view that before holding an accused guilty of an offence under Section 306 IPC, the court must scrupulously examine the facts and circumstances of the case and also assess the evidence adduced before it in order to find out whether the cruelty and harassment meted out to the victim had left the victim with no other alternative but to put an end to her life. It is also to be borne in mind that in cases of alleged abetment of suicide there must be proof of direct or indirect acts of incitement to the commission of suicide. Merely on the allegation of harassment without there being any positive action proximate to the time of occurrence on the part of the accused which led or compelled the person to commit suicide, conviction in terms of Section 306 IPC is not sustainable."
In State of W.B. v. Orilal Jaiswal [(1994) 1 SCC 73] , Supreme 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 transpires 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 the accused charged of abetting the offence of suicide should be found guilty."
RAJESH Versus STATE OF HARYANA Criminal Appeal No. 93 of 2019
In order to bring a case within the purview of Section 306 IPC, there must be a case of suicide and in the commission of the said offence, the person who is said to have abetted the commission of suicide must have played an active role by an act of instigation or by doing certain act to facilitate the commission of suicide. Therefore, the act of abetment by the person charged with the said offence must be proved and established by the prosecution before he could be convicted under Section 306 IPC. Mere allegations of harassment without proximate positive action not sufficient for conviction under section 306.
Supreme Court of India
Jamuna Singh vs State Of Bihar on 22 September, 1966
It cannot be held in law that a person cannot ever be convicted of abetting a certain offence when the person alleged to have committed that offence in consequence of the abetment has been acquitted. The question of the abettor's guilt depends on the nature of the act abetted and the manner in which the abetment was made. Under s. 107 I.P.C. a person abets the doing of an act in either of three ways which can be-. instigating any person to do an act; or engaging with one or more person in any conspiracy for the doing of that act; or intentionally aiding the doing of that act. If a person instigates another or engages with another in a conspiracy for the doing of an act which is an offence, he abets such an offence and would be guilty of abetment under s. 115 or s. 166 I.P.C., even if the offence abetted is not committed in consequence of the abetment. The offence of abetment is complete when the alleged abettor has instigated another or engaged with an other in a conspiracy to commit the offence. It is not necessary for the offence of abetment that the act abetted must be committed. This is clear from Explanation 2 and illustration (a) thereto, to s. 108 I.P.C.
Supreme Court of India
M. Arjunan vs The State Rep. By Its Inspector Of ... on 4 December, 2018
Case of the prosecution is that on 2nd December, 2001, the appellant-accused advanced a sum of Rs.80,000/- by way of debt to the deceased, by name – Rajagopal, and to that effect he obtained a promissory note. On 7 th December, 2002, the Signature Not Verified appellant-accused demanded Rs.50,000/- towards the interest and Digitally signed by MAHABIR SINGH Date: 2018.12.12 16:35:43 IST Reason:another Rs.50,000/- towards principal amount. On 21st June, 2003, in the presence of some witnesses, the deceased stated that he would discharge the entire loan amount; but he was not able to keep up his promise. Due to the alleged torture by the appellant-accused, on 21st June, 2003 at about 11:50 p.m. the deceased committed suicide. The deceased is said to have left suicide note (M.O.1) stating that he is unable to repay the loan and taking the extreme step.
Court held " The essential ingredients of the offence under Section 306 I.P.C. are: (i) the abetment; (ii) the intention of the accused to aid or instigate or abet the deceased to commit suicide. The act of the accused, however, insulting the deceased by using abusive language will not, by itself, constitute the abetment of suicide. There should be evidence capable of suggesting that the accused intended by such act to instigate the deceased to commit suicide. Unless the ingredients of instigation/abetment to commit suicide are satisfied, accused cannot be convicted under Section 306 I.P.C. (9) In our considered view, in the case at hand, M.O.1-letter and the oral evidence of PW-1 to PW-5, would not be sufficient to establish that the suicide by the deceased was directly linked to the instigation or abetment by the appellant- deceased. Having advanced the money to the deceased, the appellant-accused might have uttered some abusive words; but that by itself is not sufficient to constitute the offence under Section 306 I.P.C. From the evidence brought on record and in the facts and circumstances of the case, in our view the ingredients of Section 306 I.P.C. are not established and the conviction of the appellant-accused under Section 306 I.P.C. cannot be sustained."
Section 109 IPC and lack of charge thereof :
In Joseph Kurian Philip Jose v. State of Kerala, wherein the following statement of law has been made:
Section 109, I.P.C. is by itself an offence though punishable in the context of other offences. A-4 suffered a trial for substantive offences under the Indian Penal Code and Abkari Act. When his direct involvement in these crimes could not be established, it is difficult to uphold the view of the High Court that he could lopsidedly be taken to have answered the charge of abetment and convicted on that basis. There would, as is plain, be serious miscarriage of justice to the accused in causing great prejudice to his defence. The roles of the perpetrator and a better of the crime are distinct, standing apart from each other.
Supreme Court of India
Wakil Yadav And Anr. vs State Of Bihar on 31 July, 1997
Wakil Yadav was originally charged along with 6 others for offence under Section 302/149, I.P.C. and for some lesser of-fences as part of the same constructive liability. The Court of Session convicted all the 7 accused for the offences charged. The High Court in appeal acquitted 5 persons, convicting Guru Charan Yadav substantively for offence under Section 302, I.P.C. sentencing him to life imprisonment (whose appeal has abated) and convicting Wakil Yadav, appellant, for offence under Section 302 read with Section 109, I.P.C. It is undisputed that no charge was framed against the appellant with the aid of Section 109, I.P.C. This Court's view above-stated is that Section 109, I.P.C. is a distinct offence. The afore-extracted statement of law is clear on the point. The appellant having faced trial for being a member of an unlawful assembly which achieved the common object of killing the deceased, could in no event be substituted convicted for offence under Section 302, I.P.C. with the aid of Section 109, I.P.C. There was obviously thus not only a legal flaw but also a great prejudice to the appellant in projecting his defence. He on such error committed by the High Court, has rightly earned his acquittal.
Supreme Court in the decision reported as (2014) 12 SCC 595 Mangat Ram v. State of Haryana also held:
" We have already indicated that the trial court has found that no offence under Section 304-B IPC has been made out against the accused, but it convicted the accused under Section 306 IPC, even though no charge had been framed on that section against the accused. The scope and ambit of Section 306 IPC has not been properly appreciated by the courts below. Section 306 IPC reads as under:
"306.Abetment of suicide.--If any person commits suicide, whoever abets the commission of such suicide, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine."
Abetment of suicide is confined to the case of persons who aid or abet the commission of the suicide. In the matter of an offence under Section 306 IPC, abetment must attract the definition thereof in Section 107 IPC. Abetment is constituted by instigating a person to commit an offence or engaging in a conspiracy to commit, aid or intentional aiding a person to commit it. It would be evident from a plain reading of Section 306 read with Section 107 IPC that, in order to make out the offence of abetment or suicide, necessary proof required is that the culprit is either instigating the victim to commit suicide or has engaged himself in a conspiracy with others for the commission of suicide, or has intentionally aided by an act or illegal omission in the commission of suicide.
In the instant case, of course, the wife died few months after the marriage and the presumption under Section 113-A of the Evidence Act could be raised. Section 113-A of the Evidence Act reads as follows:
"113-A.Presumption as to abetment of suicide by a married woman.--When the question is whether the commission of suicide by a woman had been abetted by her husband or any relative of her husband and it is shown that she had committed suicide within a period of seven years from the date of her marriage and that her husband or such relative of her husband had subjected her to cruelty, the court may presume, having regard to all the other circumstances of the case, that such suicide had been abetted by her husband or by such relative of her husband."
30. We are of the view that the mere fact that if a married woman commits suicide within a period of seven years of her marriage, the presumption under Section 113-A of the Evidence Act would not automatically apply. The legislative mandate is that where a woman commits suicide within seven years of her marriage and it is shown that her husband or any relative of her husband has subjected her to cruelty, the presumption as defined under Section 498-A IPC, may attract, having regard to all other circumstances of the case, that such suicide has been abetted by her husband or by such relative of her husband. The term "the Court may presume, having regard to all the other circumstances of the case, that such suicide had been abetted by her husband" would indicate that the presumption is discretionary. So far as the present case is concerned, we have already indicated that the prosecution has not succeeded in showing that there was a dowry demand, nor would the reasoning adopted by the courts below would be sufficient enough to draw a presumption so as to fall under Section 113-A of the Evidence Act.
We are of the view that the circumstances of the case pointed out by the prosecution are totally insufficient to hold that the accused had abetted his wife to commit suicide and the circumstances enumerated under Section 113-A of the Evidence Act have also not been satisfied".
In Pinakin Mahipatray Rawal v. State of Gujarat [(2013) 10 SCC 48 : (2013) 4 SCC (Civ) 616 : (2013) 3 SCC (Cri) 801] , this Court has examined the scope of Section 113-A of the Evidence Act, wherein this Court has reiterated the legal position that the legislative mandate of Section 113-A of the Evidence Act is that if a woman commits suicide within seven years of her marriage and it is shown that her husband or any relative of her husband had subjected her to cruelty, as per the presumption defined in Section 498-A IPC, the court may presume, having regard to all other circumstances of the case, that such suicide had been abetted by the husband or such person. The court held that, though a presumption could be drawn, the burden of proof of showing that such an offence has been committed by the accused under Section 498-A IPC is on the prosecution. The court held that the burden is on the prosecution to establish the fact that the deceased committed suicide and the accused abetted the suicide. In the instant case, there is no evidence to show whether it was an accidental death or whether the deceased had committed suicide.
In K.V Prakash Babu v. State of Karnataka while dealing with the issue whether involvement of husband in an extra-marital affair invites his conviction for offence punishable under Section 306 IPC for abetment to commit suicide by the wife, observed as under:
"Slightly recently in Ghusabhai Raisangbhai Chorasiya v. State of Gujarat, the Court perusing the material on record opined that even if the illicit relationship is proven, unless some other acceptable evidence is brought on record to establish such high degree of mental cruelty the explanation
(a) to Section 498-A of the IPC which includes cruelty to drive the woman to commit suicide, would not be attracted. The relevant passage from the said authority is reproduced below:--
"True it is, there is some evidence about the illicit relationship and even if the same is proven, we are of the considered opinion that cruelty, as envisaged under the first limb of Section 498A Indian Penal Code would not get attracted. It would be difficult to hold that the mental cruelty was of such a degree that it would drive the wife to commit suicide. Mere extramarital relationship, even if proved, would be illegal and immoral, as has been said in Pinakin Mahipatray Rawal (supra), but it would take a different character if the prosecution brings some evidence on record to show that the accused had conducted in such a manner to drive the wife to commit suicide. In the instant case, the accused may have been involved in an illicit relationship with the appellant no. 4, but in the absence of some other acceptable evidence on record that can establish such high degree of mental cruelty, the Explanation to Section498-A which includes cruelty to drive a woman to commit suicide, would not be attracted."
The concept of mental cruelty depends upon the milieu and the strata from which the persons come from and definitely has an individualistic perception regard being had to one's endurance and sensitivity. It is difficult to generalize but certainly it can be appreciated in a set of established facts.
Extra-marital relationship, per se, or as such would not come within the ambit of Section 498-A Indian Penal Code. It would be an illegal or immoral act, but other ingredients are to be brought home so that it would constitute a criminal offence. There is no denial of the fact that the cruelty need not be physical but a mental torture or abnormal behaviour that amounts to cruelty or harassment in a given case. It will depend upon the facts of the said case. To explicate, solely because the husband is involved in an extra-marital relationship and there is some suspicion in the mind of wife, that cannot be regarded as mental cruelty which would attract mental cruelty for satisfying the ingredients of Section 306 Indian Penal Code.
We are absolutely conscious about the presumption engrafted under Section 113-A of the Evidence Act. The said provision enables the Court to draw presumption in a particular fact situation when necessary ingredients in order to attract the provision are established. In this regard, we may reproduce a passage from Pinakin Mahipatray Rawal (supra):--
Criminal law amendment and the rule of procedure was necessitated so as to meet the social challenge of saving the married woman from being ill-treated or forcing to commit suicide by the husband or his relatives, demanding dowry. Legislative mandate of the section is that when a woman commits suicide within seven years of her marriage and it is shown that her husband or any relative of her husband had subjected her to cruelty as per the terms defined in Section 498-A Indian Penal Code, the court may presume having regard to all other circumstances of the case that such suicide has been abetted by the husband or such person. Though a presumption could be drawn, the burden of proof of showing that such an offence has been committed by the accused under Section 498-A Indian Penal Codeis on the prosecution." We have reproduced the aforesaid passage only to highlight that the Court can take aid of the principles of the statutory presumption.
In the instant case, as the evidence would limpidly show, the wife developed a sense of suspicion that her husband was going to the house of Ashwathamma in Village Chelur where he got involved with Deepa, the daughter of Ashwathamma. It has come on record through various witnesses that the people talked in the locality with regard to the involvement of the appellant with Deepa. It needs to be noted that Deepa, being not able to digest the humiliation, committed suicide. The mother and the brother of Deepa paved the same path. In such a situation, it is extremely difficult to hold that the prosecution has established the charge under Section 498A and the fact that the said cruelty induced the wife to commit suicide. It is manifest that the wife was guided by the rumour that aggravated her suspicion which has no boundary. The seed of suspicion planted in mind brought the eventual tragedy. But such an event will not constitute the offence or establish the guilt of the accused-appellant under Section 306 of the Indian Penal Code.
Having said that we intend to make it clear that if the husband gets involved in an extra-marital affair that may not in all circumstances invite conviction under Section 306 of the Indian Penal Code but definitely that can be a ground for divorce or other reliefs in a matrimonial dispute under other enactments. And we so clarify.''
however recently in Supreme Court of India
Siddaling vs State Of Karnataka Through Kalagi ... on 9 August, 2018
through a very non reasoned judgment and without referring above judgments of the supreme court The bench of Supreme Court upheld the conviction of a man whose illicit relationship with another woman allegedly ‘abetted’ his wife’s suicide. Kavita had committed suicide by jumping into well within four months of her marriage with Siddaling. The reason for the suicide, according to the prosecution, was stated to be harassment due to alleged dowry demand and also cruelty meted out to her as Siddaling was having an illicit relationship.
The prosecution had also produced before the court an agreement executed by Siddaling before the panchayat in which the accused admitted to be living with another woman and that was seen by his wife.
The trial court convicted Siddaling and his father under Sections 498-A and 304-B r/w 34 IPC and Sections 306 r/w 34 IPC and Sections 3, 4 and 6 of the Dowry Prohibition Act. The high court partly allowed the appeal sustaining conviction under Sections 498-A and 306 of the husband.
Although Girish Ananthamurthy, the counsel for the accused, relying on apex court judgments on this aspect, contended that abetment involves a mental process of instigating a person or in any manner aiding that person in doing of the thing, the apex court bench comprising Justice R Banumathi and Justice Vineet Saran was not inclined to interfere with the concurrent convictions.
Upholding the high court judgment, the bench said: “In the case in hand, the witnesses - PW-1, PW-6, PW10 and PW-22 have clearly in their statement stated that the appellant continued his relation with another woman. The appellant’s illicit relation with another woman would have definitely created the psychological imbalance to the deceased which led her to take the extreme step of committing suicide. It cannot be said that the appellant’s act of having illicit relationship with another woman would not have affected to negate the ingredients of Sections 306 I.P.C.”
It is submitted that this judgment is contradictory to earlier position which is settled by numerous judgments and for now cannot be relief upon. Also , judgment was very brief (of 4 pages) and not very reasoned.
Supreme Court of India
Satvir Singh And Ors vs State Of Punjab And Anr on 27 September, 2001
In this case , a young mother of two kids, who is a double graduate, ran into the rail in front of a running train to end her life as well as her miseries once and for all. She was driven to that action on account of the cruel treatments suffered by her at her nuptial home. But the destiny also was cruel to her as the locomotive which she desired to be her destroyer, instead of snuffing her life out in a trice, converted her into a veritable vegetable. She lost her left hand from shoulder joint and got her spinal cord ruptured. She turned into a paraplegic. She herself described her present plight as a living corpse. Thus the miseries she longed to end transformed into a monstrous dimension clutching her as long as she is alive.
It was held "It is not enough that harassment or cruelty was caused to the woman with a demand for dowry at some time, if Section 304B is to be invoked. But it should have happened soon before her death. The said phrase, no doubt, is an elastic expression and can refer to a period either immediately before her death or within a few days or even a few weeks before it. But the proximity to her death is the pivot indicated by that expression. The legislative object in providing such a radius of time by employing the words soon before her death is to emphasise the idea that her death should, in all probabilities, have been the aftermath of such cruelty or harassment. In other words, there should be a perceptible nexus between her death and the dowry related harassment or cruelty inflicted on her. If the interval elapsed between the infliction of such harassment or cruelty and her death is wide the court would be in a position to gauge that in all probabilities the death would not have been the immediate cause of her death. It is hence for the court to decide, on the facts and circumstances of each case, whether the said interval in that particular case was sufficient to snuff its cord from the concept soon before her death."
"There was dearth of evidence to show that was subjected to cruelty or harassment connected with the demand for dowry, soon before the attempt to commit suicide.When the position is such it is an unnecessary exercise on our part to consider whether Section 116 IPC can ever be linked with the offence under Section 304B IPC.
We, therefore, conclude that appellants cannot be convicted under Section 116 IPC either by linking it with Section 306 or with Section 304B. Hence the conviction and sentence passed on them under Section 116 IPC is set aside." However, appellants were held liable under 498A .
State Of Punjab vs Iqbal Singh And Ors on 10 May, 1991
The relationship between husband and wife were strained over dowry to a level that wife sought police protection apprehending danger to her life.One day she set herself and her 3 children ablaze at the residence of her husband. Before attempting suicide she left a note behind which stated that , her husband demanded additional dowry from her and her mother in law and sister in law made false accusations against her and also conspired to kill her one night by sprinkling on her kerosene but their plan misfired. It was held that husband was responsible for creating the situations where his wife committed suicide and was responsible under 306.
State v. Anil Kumar (Cr LJ 3131 P& H )
In another case a husband merely stood by and while his wife set her ablaze due to a consistent demand for dowry. High Court held him liable for it.
State v. Kirpal Singh (CR Lj 2724 P&H)
However where wife never complained of demand of dowry or harassment but for the mere fact that she committed suicide in few months after marriage was held insufficient to hold a the accused liable for 306.
In Swamy Prahaladdas v. State of M.P. & Anr. , 1995 Supp. (3) SCC 438, the appellant was charged for an offence under Section 306 I.P.C. on the ground that the appellant during the quarrel is said to have remarked the deceased 'to go and die' . This Court was of the view that mere words uttered by the accused to the deceased 'to go and die' were not even prima facie enough to instigate the deceased to commit suicide.
In Mahendra Singh v. State of M.P., 1995 Supp.(3) SCC 731, the appellant was charged for an offence under Section 306 I.P.C basically based upon the dying declaration of the deceased, which reads as under:
"My mother-in-law and husband and sister-in-law (husband's elder brother's wife) harassed me. They beat me and abused me. My husband Mahendra wants to marry a second time. He has illicit connections with my sister-in-law. Because of these reasons and being harassed I want to die by burning."
Supreme Court, considering the definition of 'abetment' under Section 107 I.P.C., found that the charge and conviction of the appellant for an offence under Section 306 is not sustainable merely on the allegation of harassment to the deceased. This Court further held that neither of the ingredients of abetment are attracted on the statement of the deceased.
Bombay High Court
Jeevan Babu Desai vs State Of Maharashtra on 31 January, 1992
In this case the appellant had made life impossible for Ratan (deceased) . His drunkenness and increasing recourse to the bottle had made him violent, suspicious, intemperate and indiscriminate. That drove Ratan to desperation and the extent thereof was such that she took her own life. He was convicted under section 306 .
Delhi High Court
Shri Mohan Chand Kholia vs State on 6 September, 2002
Briefly stated, the facts are that Bhagwati Kholia was brought to the hospital with burn injuries on 20.8.2000. She gave her statement to the Police wherein she stated that she was married to the petitioner 12 years back. Her husband/ petitioner used to suspect her character and used to quarrel with her every day. On the day of incident at about 6 a.m. when she came down stairs with her children, the petitioner started abusing her. Her brother Ashok who also resides in the same area was called and after some time her brother Ashok went out of the house and the petitioner also went out. The petitioner came back after some time and abused her saying " You bloody whore why dont you die". Thereafter she locked herself and bolted the room and set herself on fire after pouring kerosene oil and died consequently. He was accordingly held liable for 306 and 498A .
Andhra High Court
Bommidi Rajamallu vs State Of Andhra Pradesh on 29 December, 2000
the accused used to quarrel with the deceased-Shiva Kumari and used to beat her in a drunken state. The deceased has been informing of this conduct of the accused to her parents and elder brother from time to time. The elders advised the accused to mend himself. While so, on 29-1-1993 at about 7.30 p. m., the accused went to his house in a drunken state, abused and beat the deceased. She questioned him about his drunkenness and insisted him not to drink. Unable to bear his torture, she poured kerosene on her and set herself ablaze.
In her dying declaration deceased stated " "Since my marriage my husband is addicted to drink, used to come home in drunken state, torture me, abuse me and beat me. He used to spend more money on drinks. He previously without hearing my words used to abuse me and beat me. Several times, unable to bear the torture and thought of dying. Today, i.e., on 29-1-1993 my husband Rajamallu came in drunken state abused me and attempted to beat me. When I asked him that why you are coming in drunken state and why you are doing like this? For that he abused me saying that it is my will, are you earning the money, also abused me that he do not bother if I live or die, and asked me to die." Accused was held not liable for 306 but for 498A .
Madhya Pradesh High Court
Girjashankar And Ors. vs State Of Madhya Pradesh on 19 April, 1988
Daughter in law was subject to maltreatment and starvation with the superadded fact of looking for another girl for the boy , this was held to be enough to constitute offence of abetment for purpose of section 306.
In State of West Bengal v. Orilal AIR 1994 SC 1418 : (1994 Cri LJ 2104) it has been held by the Supreme Court 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 transpires to the Court that a victim committing suicide was hyper sensitive 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 the accused charged of abetting the offence of suicide should be found guilty.
Madhya Pradesh High Court
Balram And Anr. vs State Of M.P. on 28 April, 1999
Where deceased wife was not given proper food or clothing and due to poverty of her husband and due to that she committed suicide . It was held that the case does not fall under section 306.
Supreme Court of India
Dammu Sreenu vs State Of A.P on 28 May, 2009
appellant had developed an illicit intimacy with Accused No. 2, who was the wife of the deceased Bitra Nagarjuna Rao. On the night of 31.12.1995, accused No. 2, the wife of the deceased went out of her house and returned to her matrimonial home only on the next day. The deceased, Bitra Nagarjuna Rao was unhappy with the aforesaid conduct and so, naturally questioned her about her behaviour because of which there was a quarrel between the two. Being disturbed and perturbed on account of the behaviour of his wife (Accused No. 2), the deceased, Bitra Nagarjuna Rao called the father of Accused No. 2 and asked him to take her away so as to give her proper counseling. Accordingly, she was taken away by her father. On the same day the present appellant (Accused No. 1) came to the house of the deceased and when he was questioned by the inmates of the house of the deceased, he stated that he had illicit relations with the wife of the deceased and that he would keep coming to the house of the deceased so long she does not object to the same.When he was told that Accused No. 2 had gone with her father, Accused No. 1 went to the house of the brother of Accused No. 2 and took her away despite the protest of PW-5, brother of Accused No. 2, in whose house his father kept her. The appellant took her away and brought her back to the house of her brother only after 4 days and to her parents' house on 06.01.1996.Having come to know about the aforesaid incident, the deceased felt humiliated and insulted. He committed suicide by hanging himself in the intervening night of 7th and 8th January, 1996. It is also to be noted, at this stage, that prior to his suicide, the deceased, Bitra Nagarjuna Rao expressed before his brother that it would be better to die as he felt very much insulted and humiliated. IN these facts Supreme court found accused persons guilty of 306.
Supreme Court held : "The facts which are disclosed from the evidence on record clearly establish that Accused No. 1 had illicit relationship with Accused No. 2 who is the wife of the deceased. It is also not in dispute that Accused No. 1 was visiting the house of the deceased to meet Accused No. 2 and that he even went to the house of deceased when he came to know that the wife of the deceased was sent with her father for counseling and advise. He loudly stated that he would continue to have relationship with Accused No. 2 and would come to her house so long she does not object to the same. He also took her away from the house of PW-5, her brother and kept her with him for 4 days. Immediately after the said incident the deceased committed the suicide. Therefore, there is definitely a proximity and nexus between the conduct and behaviour of Accused No. 1 and Accused No. 2 with that of the suicide committed by the deceased. Besides, there is clear and unambiguous findings of fact of three courts that the appellant is guilty of the offence under Section 306 of IPC"
Bombay High Court
Satish S/O Narayan Ate vs State Of Maharashtra on 19 February, 1996
The prosecution case is that one Maya, who was a resident of village Rohana in Wardha district was in love with the appellant-accused and their love affair was going on for about one-and-a-half years. That, the parents of Maya agreed for the marriage between Maya and the accused. The accused also agreed for the same and it was decided that the marriage was to be performed on 18-6-1989. However, the accused did not come and avoided to get married. It has further come in the prosecution evidence that on 24-6-1989, Maya filed a report at Exhibit 42 with the Police Station alleging therein that though her marriage was fixed with the accused and though the clothes etc. were stitched, the accused had not married her as his mother Gangabai had demanded Rs. 5000/- from her as a pre-condition for her marriage with the accused and as a result of that, the accused was searching for other girls. The prosecutrix, in that report, had stated that her life and reputation would be ruined and, therefore, prayed for proper action. It seems that the police did not do anything on this report. After about three weeks of this report, it is reported that Maya poured kerosene on her person while she was in her house and thereafter jumped into the nearby well while she was burning. As a result of that she met with a watery grave. A report came to be given by her uncle Ravindra examined as PW-1 and in that report, Ravindra had merely stated that Maya had jumped into the well in a burning condition. However, later on, it seems that on the basis of the statements of the parents of Maya, the Police Station Officer prepared a report and lodged the First Information Report. It is on that basis that the investigation started. In post-mortem report, it turned out that the unfortunate girl was having 12 weeks of pregnancy. The police thereafter recorded the statements, executed the inquest panchanama as well as the spot panchanama and put up the charge-sheet against the accused.
Court held : What was really required to be found out was as to whether the accused intended by not marrying that she should commit suicide or whether he knew that she was likely to commit suicide. It being independent act of the victim girl , the liability cannot be foisted on the accused.
a moral conviction cannot take the place of the legal evidence which is absent in this case. Accused acquitted under section 306.
Bombay High Court
Supchand S/O Nathuji Lonare vs The State Of Maharashtra on 19 September, 1994
The mere fact that husband performed second marriage and first wife committed suicide who was living separately , is not a ground by itself to hold husband liable under 306 . Husband was acquitted in this case .
Rajasthan High Court
Smt Aroma M Philemon vs State Of Rajasthan And Anr on 7 February, 2013
Briefly stated the facts of the case are that the petitioner happens to be the Principal of Saint Soldier Public School in Jaipur. In the School, eating of Gutkha and smoking by the students is strictly prohibited. However, on 29.11.2011, it was discovered that few students had eaten Gutkha and had spit on the walls of the school. This fact was reported to the petitioner on 30.11.2011. It was decided that school bags of the students should be searched. In the bag of Shubham Khoda, six pouches of Pan Masala and Gutkha were discovered. In the bag of another student, namely Mohd. Shoaib, few pouches of Gutkha and a knife were discovered. The parents of both the students were called; both the students were resticated from the school. However, subsequently, the parents met the Chairman of the Managing Committee and assured them that the children would adhere to the discipline of the school. Therefore, they were permitted to come back to the school. They rejoined the school on 9.12.2011. On 9.12.2011, both the students were asked to apologize before the assembly of students and to promise that they would not break the discipline of the school. Shubham Khoda continued to attend the school till 21.12.2011. However, in the intervening night of 21.12.2011 and 22.12.2011, he committed suicide. On 24.12.2011, a FIR was registered against the petitioner for offence under Section 306 IPC and Section 3(1)(x) of the SC/ST Act. During the course of investigation, a suicide note was discovered wherein Shubham Khoda has written that the petitioner is responsible for my death.
High court held : "Abetment involves a mental process of instigating a person or intentionally aiding a person in doing of a thing. Without a positive act on the part of the accused to instigate or aid in committing suicide, conviction cannot be sustained. The intention of the legislature and the ratio of the cases decided by the Supreme Court is clear that in order to convict a person under Section 306 IPC there has to be a clear mens rea to commit the offence. It also requires an active act or direct act which led the deceased to commit suicide seeing no option and that act must have been intended to push the deceased into such a position that he committed suicide.
Although, the above noted case dealt with framing of the charge for offence under Section 306 IPC, but the fact remains that the passage, quoted above, clearly reveals the ingredients of Section 306 IPC.
In the case of Ramesh Kumar Vs. State of Chattisgarh [2001(9) SCC 618], the Apex Court defined instigation to mean to goad, urge forward, provoke, incite, or to encourage to do an act.
In the case of M. Mohan Vs. State [(2011) 3 SCC 626], the Apex Court held that there should be some live link, or a proximate link between the act of the accused and the act of committing of suicide. If the live link is missing, it cannot be said that the accused has instigated, or intentionally aided the commission of suicide.
HENCE qua the offence of section 306 , the case is quashed."
Supreme Court of India
M. Arjunan vs The State Rep. By Its Inspector Of ... on 4 December, 2018
The essential ingredients of the offence under Section 306 I.P.C. are: (i) the abetment; (ii) the intention of the accused to aid or instigate or abet the deceased to commit suicide. The act of the accused, however, insulting the deceased by using abusive language will not, by itself, constitute the abetment of suicide. There should be evidence capable of suggesting that the accused intended by such act to instigate the deceased to commit suicide. Unless the ingredients of instigation/abetment to commit suicide are satisfied, accused cannot be convicted under Section 306 I.P.C. (9) In our considered view, in the case at hand, M.O.1-letter and the oral evidence of PW-1 to PW-5, would not be sufficient to establish that the suicide by the deceased was directly linked to the instigation or abetment by the appellant- deceased. Having advanced the money to the deceased, the appellant-accused might have uttered some abusive words; but that by itself is not sufficient to constitute the offence under Section 306 I.P.C. From the evidence brought on record and in the facts and circumstances of the case, in our view the ingredients of Section 306 I.P.C. are not established and the conviction of the appellant-accused under Section 306 I.P.C. cannot be sustained.
Supreme Court of India
Arnab Manoranjan Goswami vs The State Of Maharashtra on 27 November, 2020
―25. Abetment involves a mental process of instigating a person or intentionally aiding a person in doing of a thing. Without a positive act on the part of the accused to instigate or aid in committing suicide, conviction cannot be sustained. The intention of the legislature and the ratio of the cases decided by this Court is clear that in order to convict a person under Section 306 IPC there has to be a clear mens rea to commit the offence. It also requires an active act or direct act which led the deceased to commit suicide seeing no option and that act must have been intended to push the deceased into such a position that he committed suicide.
in Rajesh vs State of Haryana27, a two judge Bench of this Court, speaking through Justice L. Nageswara Rao, held as follows:
―9. Conviction under Section 306 IPC is not sustainable on the allegation of harassment without there being any positive action proximate to the time of occurrence on the part of the accused, which led or compelled the person to commit suicide. In order to bring a case within the purview of Section 306 IPC, there must be a case of suicide and in the commission of the said offence, the person who is said to have abetted the commission of suicide must have played an active role by an act of instigation or by doing certain act to facilitate the commission of suicide. Therefore, the act of abetment by the person charged with the said offence must Criminal Appeal No. 93 of 2019 decided on 18 January 2019 PART I be proved and established by the prosecution before he could be convicted under Section 306 IPC.‖ In a recent decision of this Court in Gurcharan Singh vs State of Punjab28, a three judge Bench of this Court, speaking through Justice Hrishikesh Roy, held thus:
―15. As in all crimes, mens rea has to be established. To prove the offence of abetment, as specified under Sec 107 of the IPC, the state of mind to commit a particular crime must be visible, to determine the culpability. In order to prove mens rea, there has to be something on record to establish or show that the appellant herein had a guilty mind and in furtherance of that state of mind, abetted the suicide of the deceased.‖ 52 In Vaijnath Kondiba Khandke vs State of Maharashtra and Ors.29, a two judge Bench of this Court, speaking through Justice U.U. Lalit, dealt with an appeal against the rejection of an application under Section 482 of the CrPC, for quashing an FIR registered under Sections 306 and 506 read with Section 34 of the IPC. A person serving in the office of the Deputy Director of Education Aurangabad had committed suicide on 8 August 2017. His wife made a complaint to the police that her husband was suffering from mental torture as his superiors were getting heavy work done from her husband. This resulted in him having to work from 10 AM to 10 PM and even at odd hours and on holidays. The specific allegation against the appellant was that he had stopped the deceased‘s salary for one month and was threatening the deceased that his increment would be stopped. This Court noted that there was no suicide note, and the only material on record was in the form of assertions made by the deceased‘s wife in her report Criminal Appeal No. 40 of 2011 decided on 1 October 2020 (2018) 7 SCC 781 PART I to the police. The Court went on to hold that the facts on record were inadequate and insufficient to bring home the charge of abetment of suicide under Section 306 of the IPC. The mere factum of work being assigned by the appellant to the deceased, or the stoppage of salary for a month, was not enough to prove criminal intent or guilty mind. Consequently, proceedings against the appellant were quashed.
53 On the other hand, we must also notice the decision in Praveen Pradhan (supra) where a two judge Bench of this Court, speaking through Justice B.S.
Chauhan, dismissed an appeal against the rejection of an application under Section 482 of the CrPC by the High Court for quashing a criminal proceeding, implicating an offence under Section 306 of the IPC. The suicide note which was left behind by the deceased showed, as this Court observed, that ―the appellant perpetually humiliated, exploited and demoralised the deceased, who was compelled to indulge in wrongful practices at the workplace, which hurt his self- respect tremendously.‖ The Court noted that the appellant always scolded the deceased and tried to always force the deceased to resign. Resultantly, the Court observed:
―19. Thus, the case is required to be considered in the light of the aforesaid settled legal propositions. In the instant case, alleged harassment had not been a casual feature, rather remained a matter of persistent harassment. It is not a case of a driver; or a man having an illicit relationship with a married woman, knowing that she also had another paramour; and therefore, cannot be compared to the situation of the deceased in the instant case, who was a qualified graduate engineer and still suffered persistent harassment and humiliation and additionally, also had to endure continuous illegal demands made by the appellant, upon non-
fulfilment of which, he would be mercilessly harassed by the appellant for a prolonged period of time. He had also been PART I forced to work continuously for long durations in the factory, vis-à-vis other employees which often even entered to 16-17 hours at a stretch. Such harassment, coupled with the utterance of words to the effect, that, ―had there been any other person in his place, he would have certainly committed suicide‖ is what makes the present case distinct from the aforementioned cases. Considering the facts and circumstances of the present case, we do not think it is a case which requires any interference by this Court as regards the impugned judgment and order [Criminal Miscellaneous Application No. 420 of 2006, decided on 5-1-2012 (Utt)] of the High Court. The appeal is, therefore, dismissed accordingly.‖ The contents of the FIR therefore indicated that the deceased had been subjected to harassment persistently and continuously and this was coupled by words used by the accused which led to the commission of suicide. 54 In Narayan Malhari Thorat vs Vinayak Deorao Bhagat30, this Court, speaking through Justice U.U. Lalit, reversed the judgment of a Division Bench of the High Court which had quashed criminal proceedings in exercise of the jurisdiction under Section 482. This was a case where the FIR was registered pursuant to the information received from the appellant. The FIR stated that the son and daughter-in-law of the appellant were teachers in Zila Parishad School. The respondent used to call the daughter-in-law of the appellant on the phone and used to harass her. Moreover, despite the efforts of the son of the appellant, the respondent did not desist from doing so. This Court noted:
―12. We now consider the facts of the present case. There are definite allegations that the first respondent would keep on calling the wife of the victim on her mobile and keep harassing her which allegations are supported by the statements of the mother and the wife of the victim recorded during investigation. The record shows that 3-4 days prior to the suicide there was an altercation between the victim and (2019) 13 SCC 598 PART I the first respondent. In the light of these facts, coupled with the fact that the suicide note made definite allegation against first respondent, the High Court was not justified in entering into question whether the first respondent had the requisite intention to aid or instigate or abet the commission of suicide.
At this juncture when the investigation was yet to be completed and charge-sheet, if any, was yet to be filed, the High Court ought not to have gone into the aspect whether there was requisite mental element or intention on part of the respondent.‖ The above observations of the Court clearly indicated that there was a specific allegation in the FIR bearing on the imputation that the respondent had actively facilitated the commission of suicide by continuously harassing the spouse of the victim and in failing to rectify his conduct despite the efforts of the victim. 55 Now in this backdrop, it becomes necessary to advert briefly to the contents of the FIR in the present case. The FIR recites that the spouse of the informant had a company carrying on the business of architecture, interior design and engineering consultancy. According to the informant, her husband was over the previous two years ―having pressure as he did not receive the money of work carried out by him‖. The FIR recites that the deceased had called at the office of the appellant and spoken to his accountant for the payment of money. Apart from the above statements, it has been stated that the deceased left behind a suicide note stating that his ―money is stuck and following owners of respective companies are not paying our legitimate dues‖. Prima facie, on the application of the test which has been laid down by this Court in a consistent line of authority which has been noted above, it cannot be said that the appellant was guilty of having abetted the suicide within the meaning of Section 306 of the IPC. These observations, we must note, are prima facie at this stage since the High Court is PART I still to take up the petition for quashing. Clearly however, the High Court in failing to notice the contents of the FIR and to make a prima facie evaluation abdicated its role, functions and jurisdiction when seized of a petition under Section 482 of the CrPC. The High Court recited the legal position that the jurisdiction to quash under Section 482 has to be exercised sparingly. These words, however, are not meaningless incantations, but have to be assessed with reference to the contents of the particular FIR before the High Court. If the High Court were to carry out a prima facie evaluation, it would have been impossible for it not to notice the disconnect between the FIR and the provisions of Section 306 of the IPC. The failure of the High Court to do so has led it to adopting a position where it left the appellant to pursue his remedies for regular bail under Section 439. The High Court was clearly in error in failing to perform a duty which is entrusted to it while evaluating a petition under Section 482 albeit at the interim stage. 56 The petition before the High Court was instituted under Article 226 of the Constitution and Section 482 of the CrPC. While dealing with the petition under section 482 for quashing the FIR, the High Court has not considered whether prima facie the ingredients of the offence have been made out in the FIR. If the High Court were to have carried out this exercise, it would (as we have held in this judgment) have been apparent that the ingredients of the offence have not prima facie been established. As a consequence of its failure to perform its function under Section 482, the High Court has disabled itself from exercising its jurisdiction under Article 226 to consider the appellant‘s application for bail. In considering such an application under Article 226, the High Court must be circumspect in exercising its powers on the basis of the facts of each case. PART I However, the High Court should not foreclose itself from the exercise of the power when a citizen has been arbitrarily deprived of their personal liberty in an excess of state power.
While considering an application for the grant of bail under Article 226 in a suitable case, the High Court must consider the settled factors which emerge from the precedents of this Court. These factors can be summarized as follows:
(i) The nature of the alleged offence, the nature of the accusation and the severity of the punishment in the case of a conviction;
(ii) Whether there exists a reasonable apprehension of the accused tampering with the witnesses or being a threat to the complainant or the witnesses;
(iii) The possibility of securing the presence of the accused at the trial or the likelihood of the accused fleeing from justice;
(iv) The antecedents of and circumstances which are peculiar to the accused;
(v) Whether prima facie the ingredients of the offence are made out, on the basis of the allegations as they stand, in the FIR; and
(vi) The significant interests of the public or the State and other similar considerations.
58 These principles have evolved over a period of time and emanate from the following (among other) decisions: Prahlad Singh Bhati vs NCT, Delhi31; Ram Govind Upadhyay vs Sudarshan Singh32; State of UP vs Amarmani (2001) 4 SCC 280 (2002) 3 SCC 598 PART J Tripathi33; Prasanta Kumar Sarkar vs Ashis Chatterjee34; Sanjay Chandra vs CBI35; and P. Chidambaram vs Central Bureau of Investigation36. 59 These principles are equally applicable to the exercise of jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution when the court is called upon to secure the liberty of the accused. The High Court must exercise its power with caution and circumspection, cognizant of the fact that this jurisdiction is not a ready substitute for recourse to the remedy of bail under Section 439 of the CrPC. In the backdrop of these principles, it has become necessary to scrutinize the contents of the FIR in the case at hand. In this batch of cases, a prima facie evaluation of the FIR does not establish the ingredients of the offence of abetment of suicide under Section 306 of the IPC. The appellants are residents of India and do not pose a flight risk during the investigation or the trial. There is no apprehension of tampering of evidence or witnesses. Taking these factors into consideration, the order dated 11 November 2020 envisaged the release of the appellants on bail.
Human liberty and the role of Courts
Human liberty is a precious constitutional value, which is undoubtedly
subject to regulation by validly enacted legislation. As such, the citizen is subject to the edicts of criminal law and procedure. Section 482 recognizes the inherent power of the High Court to make such orders as are necessary to give effect to the provisions of the CrPC ―or prevent abuse of the process of any Court or otherwise to secure the ends of justice