12 April 2023 6:16 AM GMT
The Punjab and Haryana High Court recently quashed a case of abetment to suicide, observing that there was no positive action on the part of accused, proximate to the time of occurrence, which may have led or compelled the deceased to commit suicide. Ranjit Singh, the Principal of Senior Secondary School, Latala, allegedly died by suicide in 2014. His son in the complaint said that he was told...
The Punjab and Haryana High Court recently quashed a case of abetment to suicide, observing that there was no positive action on the part of accused, proximate to the time of occurrence, which may have led or compelled the deceased to commit suicide.
Ranjit Singh, the Principal of Senior Secondary School, Latala, allegedly died by suicide in 2014. His son in the complaint said that he was told by his father that in relation to his extension, school's clerk Parminder Kaur and her husband in connivance with Gurmail Singh, who was then the Principal at Government Senior Secondary School, Kalakh, wanted to get him transferred as Gurmail wanted to come in as Principal in Latala School. "To accomplish that they were threatening and harassing him on the phone. As a result of which under stress and disturbance his father had committed suicide," the complainant had told the police.
Justice Aman Chaudhary said the perusal of the suicide note reveals the allegations are vague and no specific instances have been narrated that could be viewed as material for attracting the ingredients of instigation, provocation, goading, inciting, urging under Section 107 IPC, for the offence to come within the contours of ‘abetment’, that essential to bring home the offence under Section 306 IPC.
"The said act of the disturbing/irritating does not reflect requisite mens rea on the assumption that the deceased, a highly educated person would be pressurized and without weighing the pros and cons, ended his life. The offence is also not attracted, there being no positive action on the part of the petitioners alleged proximate to the time of occurrence which may have led or compelled the deceased to commit suicide. Thus, it cannot be said that the petitioners had in any manner whatsoever aided or by act of omission or commission driven the deceased to the point of no return, leaving him with no option," said the court.
The ruling was passed by the court while allowing a petition seeking quashing of an FIR under Sections 306 (Abetment of suicide), 506 (Punishment for criminal intimidation) and 34 (Acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) of the Indian Penal Code.
Advocate Akshay Chadha, the counsel representing the petitioners, argued that the FIR and the alleged suicide note only mentioned the names of the petitioners in a general way, stating that they had disturbed or irritated the deceased, without any specific instances or roles attributed to them. The court was also informed that a compromise was arrived between the parties in 2021.
The State counsel told the court that the investigation was duly conducted in the present case and the final report under Section 173 CrPC was presented only against three persons including two petitioners and accused Gurmail Singh, who expired during pendency of the trial. Other petitioners were found innocent and put in column No.2, the prosecution said.
Justice Chaudhary said abetment involves a mental process of instigating a person or intentionally aiding a person in doing of a thing. There has to be a positive act on the part of the accused to instigate or aid in committing suicide, said the court.
"The intention of the legislature and the ratio of the cases decided by Hon’ble The Supreme Court is clear that in order to hold a person liable under Section 306 IPC, there has to be 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," it added.
The court said it cannot be said that petitioners had in any manner whatsoever aided or by act of omission or commission driven the deceased to the point of no return, leaving him with no option. It also took note of absence of specifics and definite material.
While allowing the petition, the court concluded, “On an evaluation having been made above by applying the law as explicated/enunciated to the peculiar facts of the case, this Court finds that the allegations set out in the FIR do not constitute the offence for which cognizance has been taken and it evidently being a case of that nature, where the petitioners should not be compelled to undergo the rigmarole and ordeal of trial, quashing the proceedings would serve the salutary purpose of Section 482 CRPC, so as to prevent the abuse of the process of the Court.”
Case Title: Nirmaljit Singh and Ors vs. State of Punjab and Another CRM-M-50641-2021 (O&M)
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (PH) 59
Click Here To Read/Download Judgment