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Offence Of Abetment To Suicide (Sec 306 IPC) May Attract When Accused Played Active Role In Tarnishing Self Respect Of Deceased Victim: SC [Read Judgment]

Ashok Kini
26 July 2019 5:11 AM GMT
Offence Of Abetment To Suicide (Sec 306 IPC) May Attract When Accused Played Active Role In Tarnishing Self Respect Of Deceased Victim: SC [Read Judgment]
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"If the accused by his acts and by his continuous course of conduct creates a situation which leads the deceased perceiving no other option except to commit suicide, the case may fall within the four-corners of Section 306 IPC."

The Supreme Court has observed that if the accused is found to have played in an active role in tarnishing the self-esteem and self-respect of the victim, which eventually draws the victim to commit suicide, he can be held guilty of abetment of suicide.The bench comprising Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre and Justice Dinesh Maheshwari observed thus while affirming the conviction of the accused...

The Supreme Court has observed that if the accused is found to have played in an active role in tarnishing the self-esteem and self-respect of the victim, which eventually draws the victim to commit suicide, he can be held guilty of abetment of suicide.

The bench comprising Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre and Justice Dinesh Maheshwari observed thus while affirming the conviction of the accused Hem Karan alias Hemla, Ude Singh, Manoj and Daulat Ram, who drove a young girl to suicide. The facts of the case may be read from the judgment and the present report is confined to the legal aspects.

In the judgment, the court made some general observations about the offence of 'abetment of suicide' and the ingredients of the offence under Section 306 of the Indian Penal Code.

  • In cases of alleged abetment of suicide, there must be a proof of direct or indirect act/s of incitement to the commission of suicide. It could hardly be disputed that the question of cause of a suicide, particularly in the context of an offence of abetment of suicide, remains a vexed one, involving multifaceted and complex attributes of human behaviour and responses/reactions. In the case of accusation for abetment of suicide, the Court would be looking for cogent and convincing proof of the act/s of incitement to the commission of suicide.
  • In the case of suicide, mere allegation of harassment of the deceased by another person would not suffice unless there be such action on the part of the accused which compels the person to commit suicide; and such an offending action ought to be proximate to the time of occurrence. Whether a person has abetted in the commission of suicide by another or not, could only be gathered from the facts and circumstances of each case.
  • For the purpose of finding out if a person has abetted commission of suicide by another, the consideration would be if the accused is guilty of the act of instigation of the act of suicide. As explained and reiterated by this Court in the decisions above-referred, instigation means to goad, urge forward, provoke, incite or encourage to do an act.
  • If the persons who committed suicide had been hypersensitive and the action of accused is otherwise not ordinarily expected to induce a similarly circumstanced person to commit suicide, it may not be safe to hold the accused guilty of abetment of suicide
  • If the accused by his acts and by his continuous course of conduct creates a situation which leads the deceased perceiving no other option except to commit suicide, the case may fall within the four-corners of Section 306 IPC.
  • If the accused plays an active role in tarnishing the self-esteem and self-respect of the victim, which eventually draws the victim to commit suicide, the accused may be held guilty of abetment of suicide.
  • The question of mens rea on the part of the accused in such cases would be examined with reference to the actual acts and deeds of the accused and if the acts and deeds are only of such nature where the accused intended nothing more than harassment or snap show of anger, a particular case may fall short of the offence of abetment of suicide.
  • However, if the accused kept on irritating or annoying the deceased by words or deeds until the deceased reacted or was provoked, a particular case may be that of abetment of suicide. Such being the matter of delicate analysis of human behaviour, each case is required to be examined on its own facts, while taking note of all the surrounding factors having bearing on the actions and psyche of the accused and the deceased.
  • Human mind could be affected and could react in myriad ways; and impact of one's action on the mind of another carries several imponderables. Similar actions are dealt with differently by different persons; and so far a particular person's reaction to any other human's action is concerned, there is no specific theorem or yardstick to estimate or assess the same.
  • Even in regard to the factors related with the question of harassment of a girl, many factors are to be considered like age, personality, upbringing, rural or urban set ups, education etc. Even the response to the ill-action of eve-teasing and its impact on a young girl could also vary for a variety of factors, including those of background, self-confidence and upbringing. Hence, each case is required to be dealt with on its own facts and circumstances.

Examining the facts of the case, the bench concluded that the accused persons had intentionally, with their incessant acts and utterances, goaded the victim girl to commit suicide. The present case indeed represents a sordid state of affairs in relation to the young girl in the rural setting, whose honour and self-esteem got brutally violated by none other but her own relatives, who found her to be the soft-target to settle their scores with her parents, the bench added. 

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