31 March 2022 11:31 AM GMT
The Gujarat High Court has reiterated that without a positive act on the part of the accused to instigate or aid in committing suicide, conviction under Section 306 of the Indian Penal Code cannot be sustained."The essential ingredients of the offence under Section 306 IPC are: (i) the abetment; (ii) the intention of the accused to aid or instigate or abet the deceased to commit suicide....
The Gujarat High Court has reiterated that without a positive act on the part of the accused to instigate or aid in committing suicide, conviction under Section 306 of the Indian Penal Code cannot be sustained.
"The essential ingredients of the offence under Section 306 IPC are: (i) the abetment; (ii) the intention of the accused to aid or instigate or abet the deceased to commit suicide. The act of the accused, however, insulting the deceased by using abusive language will not, by itself, constitute the abetment of suicide. There should be evidence capable of suggesting that the accused intended by such act to instigate the deceased to commit suicide."
The Bench comprising Justice SH Vora and Justice Sandeep N. Bhatt was hearing a challenge to the order of acquittal for offences under Section 498(A) and 306 of the IPC by the Appellant-State of Gujarat.
The brief facts of the case were that the victim committed suicide by jumping into a well, allegedly due to the demand of dowry. In order to bring home the charges, the Prosecution examined several witnesses and produced documentary evidence but the trial court acquitted the Accused stating that the Prosecution failed to establish the case beyond reasonable doubt.
The High Court noted that even though the deceased was residing separately from her father-in-law and mother-in law since the last six months, she used to write letters to her home saying that she was happy. Further, per the statement of the brother of the victim, she had not revealed any kind of harassment/ dowry by the husband and in-laws. The Bench observed:
"Thus, the prosecution could not establish the case under Section 498(A) and 306 of the Indian Penal Code by adducing convincing evidence and the trial Court has rightly found that presumption under Section 113 of the Indian Evidence Act cannot be applied in the present case where the prosecution has failed to prove the aspect of harassment caused by the accused to the deceased through the evidence of PW Nos.1 to 3, who are the nearest relatives of the deceased."
The High Court further affirmed that per Section 306 of IPC, it was necessary to prove that the person who was said to have abetted in the commission of suicide, had played an active role in the same. In the instant case, the Bench found that there was no specific incident of hostile attitude or persistent demands of dowry, as a result the Prosecution could not drive home its case. Reliance was placed on Arnab Manoranjan Goswami versus State of Mahrashtra and others (2021) 2 SCC 427 wherein the Apex Court had opined:
"Abetment involves a mental process of instigating a person or intentionally aiding a person in doing of a thing. Without a positive act on the part of the accused to instigate or aid in committing suicide, conviction cannot be sustained. The intention of the legislature and the ratio of the cases decided by this Court is clear that in order to convict a person under Section 306 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."
After a careful appraisal of the facts and following the cardinal principle of criminal jurisprudence that in an acquittal appeal if other view is possible, then also, the appellate Court cannot substitute its own view by reversing the acquittal into conviction, unless the findings of the trial Court are perverse, contrary to the material on record, palpably wrong, manifestly erroneous or demonstrably unsustainable, the Bench refused to set aside the order of acquittal.
Case Title: STATE OF GUJARAT Versus RAVAL DEEPAKKKUMAR SHANKERCHAND & 2 other(s)
Case No.: R/CR.A/1125/1995
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