Important Judgments on Abetment of Suicide

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June 08, 2016

Section 306 of IPC provides for the offence of abetment of suicide. It states that whoever abets the commission of suicide, shall be punished with imprisonment which can extend upto 10 years alongwith fine.

The offence of abetment under Section 306 of IPC shall conform to the definition of ‘abetment’ under Section 107 of IPC i.e. there must be instigation, or engaging in conspiracy or assistance in the commission of offence.

Intention/ mens rea- an essential ingredient to establish offence under Section 306 of IPC

Sanju alias Sanjay Singh v. State of Madhya Pradesh[1]in the case the Apex Court quashed the charge sheet for offence under Section 306 of IPC to hold that the words uttered in a quarrel or on the spur of moment, such as “to go and die” cannot be taken to be uttered with mens rea. It is in a fit of anger or emotion.

S.S. Chheena vs. Vijay Kumar Mahajan and another- In this case, the Supreme Court made some remarkable observations on law pertaining to abetment of suicide under Section 306 of IPC. The Court ruled 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.
  • 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.

Madan Mohan Singh vs. State of Gujarat and another[3]– In this case it was opined that in order to bring out an offence under Section 306 of IPC, specific abetment as contemplated by Section 107 IPC on the part of the accused with an intention to bring about the suicide of the person concerned as a result of that abetment is required.

Gurcharan Singh vs. State of Punjab[4]– In this recent case, the Apex Court observed that the basic ingredients of Section 306 of IPC are suicidal death and the abetment thereof. To constitute abetment, the intention and involvement of the accused to aid or instigate the commission of suicide is imperative. Any severance or absence of any of these constituents would militate against this indictment.

Remoteness of the culpable acts or omissions rooted in the intention of the accused to actualize the suicide would fall short as well of the offence of abetment essential to attract the punitive mandate of Section 306 of IPC. Contiguity, continuity, culpability and complicity of the indictable acts or omission are the concomitant indices of abetment. Section 306 of IPC, thus criminalizes the sustained incitement for suicide.

Randhir Singh vs. State of Punjab[5] – The Supreme Court in this case enunciated on the pith and purport of Section 306 IPC and opined as under:

  • Abetment involves a mental process of instigating a person or intentionally aiding that person in doing of a thing.
  • More active role which can be described as instigating or aiding the doing of a thing is required before a person can be said to be abetting the commission of offence under Section 306 of IPC.

State of W.B. Vs. Orilal Jaiswal[6]– The Supreme Court in the case observed that the courts 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[7].

What is Instigation?

Ramesh Kumar vs. State of Chhattisgarh[8]– In this case, the Supreme Court elucidated on the term ‘instigation’ and stated that “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. A word uttered in the fit of anger or emotion without intending the consequences to actually follow cannot be said to be instigation.

Vijay Kumar Rastogi vs. State of Rajasthan[9]– In a similar observation was made in this case to hold that the word ‘urge’ means to advice or try hard to persuade somebody to do something, to make a person to move more quickly or in a particular direction, specially by pushing or forcing such person.

Therefore, a person instigating another has to “goad” or “urge forward” the latter with intention to provoke, incite or encourage the doing of an act by the latter[10]. In order to prove abetment, it must be shown that the accused kept on urging or annoying the deceased by words, taunts or wilful omission or conduct which may even be wilful silence, until the deceased reacted, or pushing the deceased by his words or wilful omission or conduct to make the deceased move forward more quickly in a forward direction.

Secondly, the accused had the intention to provoke or urge or encourage the deceased to commit suicide while acting in the manner noted above. Undoubtedly the presence of mens rea is the necessary concomitant of instigation.

Thus, in order to bring a case within the purview of Section 306 of 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 of IPC.

Mohan vs. D.S.P., Karaikudi[11]– In this case, it was held 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.

Abetment of suicide of married women- The Criminal Law (second Amendment) Act 1983 has provided that where a married girl commits suicide within seven years of her marriage, the Court may presume that her husband and relatives of her husband had abetted her to commit suicide by virtue of incorporation of Section 113 A in the Indian Evidence Act.

King Emperor v. Vidya Sagar Pande[2]A person assisting widow to become sati (self-immolation on pyre of dead body of husband) is guilty of abetment of suicide under Section 306 of IPC.

In view of the aforesaid judicial dictum and obiter dicta it is clear that the intention of the Legislature and the ratio of the cases decided by this court are 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 this act must have been intended to push the deceased into such a position that he/she committed suicide.

 

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[1] (2002) 5 SCC 371

[2] 1928 ILR 36 All 26

[3] (2010) 8 SCC 628

[4] (2017) 1 SCC 433

[5] (2004)13 SCC 129

[6] (1994) 1 SCC 73

[7] Amalendu Pal Vs. State of West Bengal (2010) 1 SCC 707

[8] (2001) 9 SCC 618

[9] (2012) CrlLJ 2342

[10] Chitresh Kumar Chopra vs. State (Govt. of NCT of Delhi) (2010) 3 SCC (Crl.) 367

[11] (2011) 3 SCC 626