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, the court said.
While discharging the principal and headmaster of a school accused of abetment of suicide of a peon belonging to Scheduled Caste community, the Madhya Pradesh High Court observed that if a higher officer compels his subordinate to do extra work, which is unbearable, he cannot be held to have abetted his suicide because the latter had ‘other several options and it cannot be said that he had no other option except to commit suicide’.
In his suicide note, the victim had stated that he was harassed by the accused 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 this harassment and humiliation he committed suicide.
The accused had approached the high court challenging the order of framing charges against them under Section 306 of Indian Penal Code and Section 3(1)(r) of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.
The high court took note of the evidence in this case, viz. Suicide note and statement of witnesses. Mother, brother and wife of the deceased stated that deceased constantly made complaints regarding the behaviour of the accused and compelled him to do extra work beyond his capacity. Deceased had committed suicide in the premises of the school.
Referring to evidence, Justice JP Gupta observed that the accused cannot be held responsible for the suicide of the deceased, as there is no mens rea to abet the deceased for commission of suicide and said: “In the present case alleged act of abusing and taking extra work from the deceased, cannot be equated into the abetment the deceased to commit suicide. On the fateful day of the incident, no such act had taken place which can be considered to be the proximate cause of the incident. 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.”
The court also observed that deceased ‘in a fit of depression’ committed suicide.
With regard to offences charged under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, the bench said statements of witnesses comes in the purview of hearsay evidence and it has only been simply said that the accused used to abuse the deceased without disclosing the actual words of the abusive language. The averments in the suicide note with regard to calling the deceased by referring to his caste is also not admissible in evidence because, as prima facie no offence under Section 306 of the IPC is made out, then the suicide note cannot be read as evidence in the absence of question of death of the deceased, said the court while discharging them of all the offences.