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)