Utterance Made In Moment Of Anger Or Emotion Cannot Be Deemed Instigation For Abetment Of Suicide: Punjab & Haryana High Court

Aiman J. Chishti

21 May 2024 2:27 PM GMT

  • Utterance Made In Moment Of Anger Or Emotion Cannot Be Deemed Instigation For Abetment Of Suicide: Punjab & Haryana High Court

    The Punjab and Haryana High Court has said that utterances made in a moment of anger or emotion cannot be deemed instigation for abetment of suicide, as mens rea is an essential element to constitute the offence. It thus set aside the conviction of a wife under Section 306 IPC booked for abetting the suicide of her husband.Justice Manjari Nehru Kaul said, "Utterances made in a moment of anger...

    The Punjab and Haryana High Court has said that utterances made in a moment of anger or emotion cannot be deemed instigation for abetment of suicide, as mens rea is an essential element to constitute the offence. It thus set aside the conviction of a wife under Section 306 IPC booked for abetting the suicide of her husband.

    Justice Manjari Nehru Kaul said, "Utterances made in a moment of anger or emotion cannot be deemed instigation. It is also important to acknowledge that individuals vary in their sensitivity and temperament. It is not solely the feelings of the deceased that would matter, but most importantly, the intention behind the act of the accused as to whether he actually intended to drive the deceased to suicide would also have to be discerned."

    The Court was hearing the plea of a woman who was convicted under Section 306 IPC for abetting the suicide of her husband by inflicting cruelty upon him. The Trial Court had awarded her five years of rigorous imprisonment.

    According to the complaint, the suicide notes left behind by the deceased strongly suggested feelings of hopelessness because of the maltreatment by his wife.

    It was alleged that even though the accused had left her matrimonial home more than 10 days before the suicide in question, however, just a few days before the suicide, the accused humiliated the deceased and his family, and also threatened to not only falsely implicate them in criminal cases including dowry cases as she was well connected but to get them eliminated.

    After hearing the submissions, the Court noted that, "the relationship between the deceased and his wife, i.e. the accused, was strained and far from cordial. However, for determining whether the accused harbored the intention to orchestrate circumstances leading to the suicide of the deceased, it would necessitate a meticulous examination of the events preceding his suicide."

    Examining Section 107 of IPC, the Court said it "leaves no manner of doubt that mens rea, or the intention to abet, is the most crucial aspect of abetment/instigation. Without such intent, it would be unjust to hold someone liable for abetment."

    Furthermore, the Court said, to prove culpability under Section 306 of the IPC, "it is imperative to demonstrate that the accused deliberately instigated the deceased to such an extent that the latter felt compelled to take his own life."

     A critical ingredient under Section 306 of the IPC necessitates an overt and purposeful act on the part of the accused, transcending mere passive incitement, and instead constituting a direct and forceful inducement towards the act of suicide by the deceased, it added.

    Justice Kaul highlighted that undeniably, the deceased did leave behind two undated suicide notes, detailing the manner in which the accused had subjected him to harassment.

    However, it is crucial to note that all instances of mental torture and harassment referred to, in the suicide notes, had occurred even before the deceased left her matrimonial home, the judge added.

    "While the suicide note, no doubt, did mention about the humiliation suffered by the deceased and his family, and the threats extended of false implication in cases, during a visit to the parental house of the accused a few days before his suicide, these incidents cannot be conclusively deemed as the immediate triggers for the suicide of the deceased," the Court said.

    "Importantly, the suicide notes do not indicate that the deceased experienced any further humiliation or any other untoward incident took place, after his last meeting with the accused on 04.05.2013; still further, it is not even the case of the prosecution that the accused followed through on her threat by falsely implicating the deceased or his family in any criminal case," it noted.

    Justice Kaul said that "possibility of the deceased being highly sensitive and choosing to commit suicide due to marital discord with the accused, who had admittedly been living apart from him for at least 10 days prior to the suicide, can be said to be a plausible circumstance leading to the suicide."

    In the light of the above, the Court opined that the case of the prosecution thus, does not meet the criteria for abetment as defined under Section 107 of the IPC.

    Consequently, the plea was allowed.

    Title: Kavita v. State of Haryana

    Partap S. Gill, Advocate and  Eknoor Kaur Sara, Advocate for the appellant

    Vivek Singla, Advocate for the complainant/ petitioner

    Rajesh Gaur, Addl. A.G., Haryana.

    Click here to read/download the order

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