Another Person Cannot Be Blamed For Wrong Decision Of A "Coward": P&H HC Says Suicide Note Not Enough To Charge With Abetment

Another Person Cannot Be Blamed For Wrong Decision Of A "Coward": P&H HC Says Suicide Note Not Enough To Charge With Abetment

Charges of abetment to suicide cannot be leveled if a "person of weak mentality" names somebody in his suicide note but a subsequent investigation fails to establish the accused person's guilt, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has ruled.

Allowing a Petition filed by six accused, Justice P.B. Bajanthri explained, "Merely because a person has been so named in the suicide note one cannot immediately jump to the conclusion that he is an offender under Section 306 I.P.C. The contents of the suicide note and other attending circumstances have to be examined to find out whether it is abetment within the meaning of Section 306 I.P.C. read with Section 107 I.P.C."

The Judge in fact went on to assert that another person cannot be blamed "for the wrong decision taken by a coward, fool, idiot, a man of weak mentality, a man of frail mentality".

The Court was hearing Petitions demanding quashing of FIRs against the accused who had been named by one Iqbal Asif Khan in his suicide note as being responsible for him taking the step. His suicide note had named six people – lawyers AR Madhav Rao, RK Hasija, MP Devnath and Nishant Mishra and firm employees Inder Singh Bisht and Ganesh Prasad Sati.

The note essentially stated that the accused had forced him to prepare a draft and present a petition before the Allahabad High Court, the effects of which would have been loss to the company and adverse impact on his family members.

Hearing the Petition, the Court began by noting that the offence of abetment requires 'mens rea', i.e. a guilty mind. It asserted that there must be intentional aiding or goading the commission of suicide by another, and cautioned that otherwise, even a mere casual remark, something said in routine and usual conversation will be wrongly construed or misunderstood as 'abetment'.

Justice Bajanthri then went on to emphasize on the importance of a holistic analysis in such cases, observing, "The overall analysis is required to be examined with the following incidents like if a lover commits suicide due to love failure, if a student commits suicide because of his poor performance in the examination, a client commits suicide because his case is dismissed, the lady, examiner, lawyer respectively cannot be held to have abetted the commission of suicide."

Averting to the facts of the case in hand, the Court opined that the deceased was a "coward" and said that "instead of protecting the family, he perished like an unsuccessful man in life foolishly". It essentially asserted that the accused cannot be charged as being liable for such acts of the deceased.

Besides, it noted that the suicide note was vague and did not specify any particular wrong-doings by the accused. It further observed that the investigation had also failed to bring up any cogent material to support the allegation.

The Court therefore set aside the proceedings initiated against the accused, ruling, "The records at hand could not reveal any willful conduct which is of such a nature as is likely to drive the deceased to commit suicide. In the present case, allegations made in FIR as well as material collected during the investigation, even if they are taken at their face value and accepted, do no prima facie constitute the offences punishable under Sections 306/34 of IPC against the petitioners. Moreover, no tangible and clinching material on record in support of the allegations / charge against the petitioners."

Read the Order Here