Employee Forced to do Extra Work- Employer can’t be Prosecuted for Abetment of Suicide

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April 10, 2018

Case name: Shama Parveen Beg v. State of Madhya Pradesh & Anr.

Date of Judgement: April 05, 2018

In the case, it had been materially alleged that the deceased Haribabu who was working as a Peon under the Appellants committed suicide and the suicide note purportedly mentioned that that he was harassed by the appellants who forced him to work beyond his capacity against the rules and they used to abuse him with derogatory remarks by referring to his caste and due to the aforesaid harassment and humiliation he committed suicide.

On investigation, the Special Judge in the case registered offences under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act against the appellants.

The aforesaid order of framing of the charges has been challenged by the appellants on the ground that the trial Court has mechanically framed the charges. It has been alleged that if the entire allegations levelled against the appellants are assumed to be correct, then also necessary ingredients to constitute the abetment to commit suicide is not attracted.

The Madhya Pradesh High Court in the case held that prima facie there was no reasonable ingredients available to constitute the offence punishable under Section 306 of Indian Penal Code and the appellants could not be prosecuted on the basis of material available in the charge-sheet. Thus, while allowing the appeal, the High Court in the case made the following observations:

  • That 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.
  • That the intention of the legislature is clear that in order to convict a person under Section 306 of 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 this act must have been intended to push the deceased into such a position that he committed suicide.
  • That in view of the facts and circumstances of the instant case, the Court opined that the alleged act of abusing and taking extra work from the deceased, cannot be equated into the abetment the deceased to commit suicide.
  • That if higher officer compels his subordinate to do extra work, which is unbearable, then he has other several options and it cannot be said that he had no other option except to commit suicide. Therefore, the appellants cannot be held responsible for the suicide of the deceased, as there is no mens rea to abet the deceased for commission of suicide. The deceased in a fit of depression committed suicide. Hence, they cannot be prosecuted for commission of offence punishable under Section 306 of IPC.

The entire case can be accessed here.