Abetment of Suicide: Mere Name of Person in Suicide Note doesn’t Establish the Offence

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June 07, 2018

In a recent case (A.R. Madhav Rao and others v. State of Haryana & ors.), the High Court of Punjab & Haryana delved into the issue of establishing offence of abetment of suicide under Section 306 of the Indian Penal Code.

In the case, the petitioners prayed for quashing FIR registered against them for abetment of suicide, under Sections 306/34 of the Indian Penal Code.

In the case at hand, the deceased, Iqbal Asif Khan was working as a Manager Taxation with Xerox India Limited and in 2011 he committed suicide. He also left a suicide note, wherein it was stated that he has stated that he has been forced to commit suicide on account of the afore-mentioned petitioners. Based on the suicide note of deceased Iqbal Asif Khan, FIR was registered against the Petitioners.

The deceased alleged that petitioners were responsible for certain alleged misdeeds which were committed by the deceased Iqbal Asif Khan in drafting petition whereby there would be financial loss to Xerox India Limited.

Bench’s Verdict

The Court of Punjab & Haryana quashed the FIR registered against the petitioners for abetment of suicide and made the following observations in the case:

  • That the offence of abetment requires ‘mens rea’ (guilty mind). There must be intentional doing/aiding or goading the commission of suicide by another. Otherwise, even a mere casual remark, something said in routine and usual conversation will be wrongly construed or misunderstood as ‘abetment’. That to attract Section 306 I.P.C., there must be clear ‘mens rea’ to commit offence[1].
  • That generally the person who commits suicide used to/liked to leave a suicide note naming certain person as responsible for his committing suicide. Merely because a person has been so named in the suicide note one cannot immediately jump to the conclusion that he is an offender under Section 306 I.P.C.
  • That the contents of the suicide note and other attending circumstances have to be examined to find out whether it is abetment within the meaning of Section 306 I.P.C. read with Section 107 I.P.C. There may be a case where in the suicide note victim had named a person, who is responsible for his committing suicide, but, on proper analysis, Section 306 I.P.C. may not be attracted to him.
  • The overall analysis is required to be examined with the following incidents like if a lover commits suicide due to love failure, if a student commits suicide because of his poor performance in the examination, a client commits suicide because his case is dismissed, the lady, examiner, lawyer respectively cannot be held to have abetted the commission of suicide.
  • That for the wrong decision taken by a coward, fool, idiot, a man of weak mentality, a man of frail mentality, another person cannot be blamed as having abetted his committing suicide.

With reference to the facts of the instant case, the High Court stated that in the absence of any specific instigation by the petitioners to the extent that they have advised or suggested or compelled the deceased Iqbal Asif Khan to prepare draft and presenting petition against the interest of the company. Merely because a person who has committed suicide, has left a suicide note immediately one cannot jump to a conclusion that it is enough to mulct the accused with criminal liability under Section 306 IPC. One has to analyse and examine the contents of the suicide note to find out whether it contains any incriminating information in the nature of instigation, provocation, forcing the victim to commit suicide.

 

[1] Gangula Mohan Reddy vs State of A.P., (2010) 1 SCC (Crl.) 917