The Bombay High Court has held that the act of recovering credit card dues does not constitute an act of abetment.
Justice PD Naik set aside an order of Sessions Court, Raigad, rejecting the application for discharge filed by the accused and allowed an application for discharge filed by accused AR Satish, a bank employee in a case registered under Section 306 read with Section 511 of the Indian Penal Code.
The said FIR was registered by one Shankar Devar who has been employed with Bharat Petroleum for 15 years. He had credit cards from three different banks and frequently used them to purchase liquor etc.
The accused, who was with ICICI bank at the time, is said to have visited the complainant’s house and informed him that if he is unable to settle his dues, household articles would be taken away. According to the complainant, Satish frequently called him after that and threatened him.
Since Devar was disturbed, he consumed sleeping pills and rat kill poison for which he was treated in a hospital at New Panvel. At that time, Devar had said that he consumed the pills and poison due to family reasons.
Thereafter, in October 2007, Devar was informed in his office that there was a phone call for him from one Satish at the instance of Citi Bank. Thereafter, he again received a call on his mobile phone. He was informed that the caller had left the ICICI Bank and had joined Citi Bank. He was also informed that an amount of Rs.1,30,000/- is due and payable by him to the Citi Bank.
Under pressure, Devar again ate some 30 sleeping pills and was taken to the hospital. Although Devar survived, he chose to file an FIR against the accused alleging abetment of suicide.
After going through the complainant’s statement and statement of other witnesses in the case, the court said-
“First of all, the material on record taken as it is, does not in any manner fulfill the requirement of abetment to the victim to commit the alleged act. Accused was acting at the instance of the bank for recovery of the dues of the bank. Admittedly, the victim had utilized the credit card of the Citi Bank. The bank was, thus, trying to recover an amount of Rs.1,30,000/-. Demanding the money from the complainant and assuming that he was threatened of dire consequences is in no manner can constitute an act of abetment. The Sessions Court has committed an error while rejecting the application by observing that there is grave suspicion against the accused that due to his alleged acts, the victim was forced to commit suicide.”
The court further noted-
“The intention of the legislature and the ratio of the case decided by this Court 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 that act must have been intended to push the deceased into such a position that he committed suicide. Applying the ratio laid down in the said decision, it will have to be held that even if the act committed by the victim would have been accomplished, it would not have been an offence under Section 306 of IPC and the question of invoking Section 511 with Section 306 does not arise.”
Thus, the court allowed the application for discharge and set aside the Sessions Court order.