16 Aug 2023 9:09 AM GMT
The Karnataka High Court recently refused to quash criminal proceedings initiated against three employees of Lifestyle International Private Limited, accused of teasing their colleague on his sexual orientation, which is alleged to have caused him to commit suicide. A single judge bench of Justice M Nagaprasanna dismissed the petition filed by Malathy S B, Deputy General Manager in...
The Karnataka High Court recently refused to quash criminal proceedings initiated against three employees of Lifestyle International Private Limited, accused of teasing their colleague on his sexual orientation, which is alleged to have caused him to commit suicide.
A single judge bench of Justice M Nagaprasanna dismissed the petition filed by Malathy S B, Deputy General Manager in Marketing; Kumar Suraj, Vice-President in Human Resources and Nitish Kumar, Assistant Manager in Marketing, who are charged under section 306 of the Indian Penal Code.
The bench said, “Cases which involve death of a person and the accused are guilty of abetment to suicide of the said victim will have to be considered owing to the facts of each case. There cannot be any particular parameter; yardstick; or a theorem for interference, particularly, in cases of abetment to suicide.”
The deceased had committed suicide on June 3, 2023. The next day the father of the deceased lodged a complaint with the police. The moment the crime was registered, the petitioners approached the court questioning the FIR.
The deceased had previously registered a complaint with the Internal Complaints Committee constituted under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 contending that he was harassed by the petitioners. He had even resigned from the organisation, raising grounds of harassment by the petitioners.
The petitioners argued that the deceased vented several grievances and one such grievance was that he was being commented on for his sexual orientation. There is neither instigation, goading nor proximity to the death of the deceased as is necessary for the offence punishable under Section 306 of the IPC, it was argued.
The prosecution said the case requires investigation in the least as there is a loss of life and proximity or otherwise would emerge only after the investigation.
The bench noted that it is barely three days after registration of the FIR, the present petition was filed. The investigation is still in progress. It said, “It is not a case where there is no prima facie material or the allegations are made in thin air.”
Further it said, “If the accused by their alleged acts have played an active role in tarnishing or destroying the self esteem of a hypersensitive person or even their self respect, would definitely become guilty of commission of abetment to suicide; if the accused have kept on irritating or annoying the deceased by words or deeds, provoking them and driving them to the wall, would also become circumstances that would be ingredients of abetment, all prima facie. Delicate analysis of human behavior that shrouds each case will have to be analysed, on a case to case basis.”
Court said human mind could be affected and would react in myriad ways, one such way could be the ending of one’s life. Therefore, all these would be in the realm of disputed questions of fact and would require investigation in the least.
It relied on Mahendra K.C. v. State of Karnataka, (2022) wherein the Supreme Court said that every individual is different and different individual personality would manifest as a variation in the behaviour of people. It also held that quashment of the proceedings, at the stage of crime, is not a course of action that can be undertaken while exercising its jurisdiction under Section 482 of the Cr.P.C.
Before parting the bench expressed, “The deceased, in the case at hand, is the one belonging to LGBT community. The sensitivity of them being ostracised pervades their psyche. Therefore, such people must be treated with all love and affection and not point at the infirmity that they have no control of. If every citizen would treat such citizens with all love and care, as is done to a normal human, precious lives would not be lost.”
It added, “Unfortunately, the precious life of a youth is lost in the case at hand, all for the prima facie allegations of pointing at sexual orientation of the deceased. Therefore, it is for every citizen to bear this in mind while interacting with sensitive people. It is necessary that every one of us introspect on this issue, after all, everyone of them are human beings and all are worthy of equality.”
Case Title: Malathy S B & Others AND State of Karnataka
Case No: WP 11745/2023
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Kar) 310
Date of Order: 28-07-2023
Appearance: Senior Advocate Sandesh J Chouta a/w Advocate Mrinal Shankar for petitioners.
HCGP K.P.Yashodha for Respondent.
Click Here To Read/Download Order