The Bombay High Court while quashing and setting aside a case of abetment of suicide registered against a branch manager, observed that when previous loan amount is outstanding and if the branch manager is refusing to grant further loan, that can be said to be an act of a vigilant and prudent banker and cannot be termed as abetment of suicide.
Division bench of Justice VM Deshpande and Justice AS Kilor of the Nagpur bench were hearing a criminal application filed by 38-year-old Santosh Kumar Singh who was working as Branch Manager for the bank of Maharashtra for quashing of FIR that was registered with Morshi Police Station, District Amravati, for offence punishable under Section 306 of the Indian Penal Code.
The complaint was filed by Prashant Gawande, the brother of deceased Sudhir Gawande, who committed suicide on June 12, 2015 by hanging himself in a bedroom of his house.
Advocate Anand Deshpande appeared on behalf of the applicant and submitted that the FIR cannot stand to scrutiny of law inasmuch as there is nothing to show that the applicant had an intention to aid or instigate or abet Sudhir to commit suicide. He submitted that as per Loan Account, on March 31, 2015 there was an outstanding in the name of the complainant to the extent of Rs.2,32,689.
In this view of the matter, he submitted that even if it is accepted, as stated in the FIR, that on June 12, 2015 Sudhir approached the Bank of Maharashtra for fresh loan by restructuring Loan Account and if that request was refused, it cannot be held as abetment to Sudhir to commit suicide.
On the other hand, Additional Public Prosecutor MJ Khan for the State, submitted that the First Information Report shows that on 7-8 occasions Sudhir, the deceased, visited Bank of Maharashtra, Morshi Branch, District Amravati wherein the applicant was Branch Manager and there he requested for restructuring of loan and grant of fresh loan, however the applicant refused the said request and, therefore, due to such refusal Sudhir was not keeping a good mood.
APP Khan submitted that on June 12, 2015 also he along with his cousin Sachin, again went to the Bank and came to the house at about 2:30 pm. At that time, he brought ten bags of cement, however he did not bring seeds. Thereafter, since he was not keeping a good mood, the complainant's mother enquired about the same and Sudhir replied that since the Branch Manager refused to grant the loan, he will not take food and ultimately he committed suicide. Therefore, the said act on the part of the applicant not to grant the loan resulted into the suicide by hanging by Sudhir, APP Khan argued.
After hearing submissions of both parties and examining Section 306 of IPC, the bench said-
"Law is well crystallized by various pronouncements of the Honourable Apex Court and of this Court. It would be useful to have a reference of few cases of the Honourable Apex Court without detailing facts in those cases- Sanju alias Sanjay Singh Sengar vs. State of Madhya Pradesh, and Madan Mohan Singh vs. State of Gujarat and anr."
Finally, noting that it is incumbent upon the prosecution to at least show prima facie case that accused had an intention to aid or instigate or abet deceased to commit suicide, Court observed-
"Admittedly, in this case, the Loan Account of the complainant was showing outstanding to the tune of Rs.2,32,689/-. The said aspect is not denied by the prosecution. Sudhir Gawande, the deceased, was not having any loan outstanding in his name. Even, according to the prosecution, Sudhir Gawande, the deceased, went to the Bank of Maharashtra, Morshi Branch, District Amravati for loan. If previous loan amount is outstanding and if the applicant, who is Branch Manager of the said Bank, is refusing to grant any further loan, can be said as act of a vigilant and prudent banker and if he is not granting any further loan, it cannot be termed that by such act he instigated and/or abetted the person to commit suicide."
Thus, the application was allowed and FIR registered against the applicant was quashed and set aside.