Remarking that a child of tender age should be handled very carefully and must be protected from every kind of hurt, whether physical or mental, the Delhi High Court on Wednesday refused to entertain the anticipatory bail application filed by a teacher who was accused of abetting a student's suicide by subjecting her to mental torture.
The Petitioner, Ritika, was a biology teacher and was accused of having abetted the Complainant's daughter, a student of 6th standard, to commit suicide. It was alleged that she time and again called the deceased a "characterless" girl and asked her to "go die". The suicide note of the deceased also revealed the Petitioner's name along with another teacher.
Accordingly, the Petitioner had been charged for abetment of suicide, punishable under Section 305 of IPC.
Seeking anticipatory bail, the Petitioner contended that:
1. She was a teacher by profession since 2014 and till date no complaint had ever been made against her.
2. The act of abetment of suicide could not be read in isolation and must be read with Section 107 of IPC, which entails the essentials constituting "abetment". She asserted that 'instigation' was the first essential constituting abetment and that the same was not satisfied as the Petitioner had no occasion to instigate the deceased girl.
3. The alleged suicide note was planted later on by the Complainant in order to implicate the Petitioner as at the time of giving statements to the IO, the Complainant had said that she was not aware about any suicide note.
4. Even if the suicide note were true, no specific allegation was leveled against the Petitioner. The deceased had nowhere stated that the suicide was committed by her on the instigation of the Petitioner.
5. No recovery was to be effected from her or at her instance and that she was ready to join the investigation when called for.
The State contested the application stating that the deceased had categorically mentioned the Petitioner's name in the suicide note and there was no reason to disbelieve the version of the deceased, it being a dying declaration. It was also asserted that the Petitioner was required to be kept in custody for custodial interrogation, in order to elicit the truth out of her.
Taking note of the material on record, Justice Brijesh Sethi refused to allow the application. He noted that a child of such a tender age would have no motive to implicate the Petitioner groundlessly. Rather, the allegations were supported by the statements of the deceased's friends. In this regard he said,
"material available on record, prima facie reveals that the deceased was compelled to take such a drastic step because of deep mental pain/hurt caused by the alleged misbehavior and hostile treatment extended to the deceased by the petitioner. It is highly improbable that a child of tender age would implicate her teacher falsely and without any reason."
The court was also hesitant to ignore the suicide note which clearly implicated the Petitioner, along with another teacher. In this regard, the court said,
"perusal of the suicide note prima facie reveals that deceased child has named her teachers Aarti and Ritika (petitioner herein). Deceased child has specifically mentioned the words in her suicide note "because of my class teacher Arti Ma'am and Ritika Ma'am". This clearly indicates that something wrong must have happened with the deceased in the school/class.
It is also very difficult to ignore the suicide note where the deceased child states that she has been falsely implicated by 6th standard students because of her class teacher Arti and petitioner Ritika. In the opinion of the Court, prima facie there are serious and direct allegations of abetment to suicide against the petitioner which are difficult to ignore."
Taking a stern view of child abuse and mental torture, the court remarked,
"There can be no opposition from anyone regarding the above proposition that a child of tender age should be handled very carefully and he/she needs to be protected from every kind of hurt whether physical or mental. Unfortunately, the petitioner has failed to pay attention to this fact."
Lastly noting that the Petitioner was a teacher at the school where the deceased studied and that she may have an opportunity to tamper evidence if granted pre-arrest bail, the court refused to entertain the application and concluded,
"keeping in mind the nature of offence, statement of witnesses appearing on record and particularly, the apprehension expressed by the State about the likelihood of the witnesses being influenced and evidence being tampered with, this Court is not inclined to grant anticipatory bail to the petitioner."
The Petitioner was represented by Advocate Rashid Azam and the State by APP Neelam Sharma and with IO. Jaspreet Singh Rai.
Click here to download the Judgment