Case BriefsHigh Courts

Karnataka High Court: K.N. Phaneendra, J. allowed the criminal petition filed under Section 438 of The Code for Criminal Procedure, 1973, seeking bail in the event of his arrest for the offence punishable under Section 306 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 (‘IPC’).

In the present case, the complainant’s father’s dead body was found near Byappanahalli Railway Bridge. Upon examination of the dead body, a piece of paper was found wherein the deceased had mentioned the people (including the petitioner) responsible for his death. It was stated in the complaint that some people owed a total sum of Rs 14, 00,000 to the deceased. A case for the offence punishable under Section 306 of IPC was registered by the police based on the above allegations.

The Court, upon perusal of the facts and evidences, opined that mere allegations in a note did not amount to substantial evidence to convict the petitioner, unless any overt act or any conduct of the petitioner proves so. Therefore, due to lack of concrete evidence, two out of the three petitioners were granted anticipatory bail upon certain conditions. [Noushad Ahmed v. State of Karnataka, Criminal Petition No. 7001 of 2019, decided on 23-10-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: R. Narayana Pisharadi, J. allowed a petition filed by bank official praying for quashing proceedings initiated against him for abetting suicide of a student who had applied for an education loan to the bank where he was working, holding that there was no mens rea involved on his part.

In the present case, a student named Sruthi, from a financially backward family approached a bank several times for education loan. The bank rejected her applications for education loan and in despair, she committed suicide. Later, two bank officers (manager and the deputy manager of the bank) had to face prosecution for abetting her suicide by rejecting her application for loan and it was also stated by the father of the deceased that when the deceased was brought to the hospital she told him that she met the petitioner before the accident and the petitioner told her that if her loan was not sanctioned then she had no option other than dying. The brother (respondent) of the deceased gave the first information statement to the police and the case was registered under Section 306 of the Penal Code, 1860 (IPC). After investigation, a final report was filed by the police under Section 306 IPC read with Section 34 of IPC. The concerned Magistrate committed the case to the Court of Session. The petitioner approached this Court to quash all the proceedings in the instant case under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (CrPC).

Learned counsels on behalf of the petitioners, S. Sreekumar, P. Paulochan Antony, M.A. Mohammed Siraj, P. Martin Jose, P. Prijith and Thomas P. Kuruvill, submitted that even if allegations raised against the petitioner in the final report were true, no offence was committed under Section 306 IPC as there was no direct nexus between the rejection of the application of loan by the petitioner and the suicide committed by the deceased. There was no proximity of time between the alleged act committed and the act of the victim. Non-sanctioning of education loan by the petitioner to the deceased could not be considered as facilitation of commission of suicide on their part as there was no malicious intention or instigation. Further, according to the copy of norms, loan application had to be disposed of within fifteen days but the deceased committed suicide without even waiting for the fate of her loan application. Lastly, no material was produced by the prosecution to prove that the petitioner told the deceased to commit suicide

Learned counsel on behalf of the respondent S. Manu, and Public Prosecutor M.N. Maya, contented that allegations in the final report along with the materials produced by the prosecution showed that the petitioner had abetted the commission of suicide by the deceased.  

The Court opined that the prosecution had not made any prima facie case against the petitioner for committing an offence punishable under Section 306 IPC and continuance of the proceedings against the petitioners would be an abuse of process of the Court. The Court also observed that even according to the prosecution case, only when the deceased told the first petitioner that in case the loan was not sanctioned she would have no option other than to die, that the first petitioner told her to go and do so. Thus, the remark regarding death was initially made not by the first petitioner, but by the deceased. The fact that the first petitioner had retorted to the deceased in such a manner in such a situation, in a fit of anger or emotion or at the spur of the moment, did not lead to an inference that he had instigated the deceased to commit suicide. Reliance in this regard was placed on Pawan Kumar v. State of Himachal Pradesh, (2017) 7 SCC 780. Thus, all proceedings against the petitioners were quashed.[Harikrishnan v. State of Kerala, 2019 SCC OnLine Ker 1767, decided on 10-06-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Sanjeev Sachdeva, J. dismissed a criminal revision petition filed against the order of the trial court whereby charge under Section 498-A (husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty) IPC was framed against the petitioner.

Petitioner was married to the deceased who committed suicide on the very next day of their first marriage anniversary. FIR under Sections 306 (abetment of suicide) and 498-A was registered against the petitioner at the behest of the mother of the deceased. An alleged suicide note was found which was verified to be written in the handwriting of the deceased. The trial court discharged the petitioner of the offence under Section 306 holding that the said suicide note exonerated him as it states that the deceased was taking the steps voluntarily. However, it was found that the allegations levelled by the mother and brothers of the deceased that the petitioner maltreated the deceased and committed physical and mental cruelty were specific and therefore framed a charge under Section 498-A against him.

Senior Advocate Harish Salve contended that as the trial court found insufficient material to proceed under Section 306, on the same analogy, there was insufficient material to even frame a charge under Section 498-A.

Relying on the Supreme Court decisions in Girdhar Shankar Tawade v. State of Maharashtra, (2002) 5 SCC 177 and Ramesh Kumar v. State of Chhattisgarh, (2001) 9 SCC 618, the High Court reiterated that charges under Sections 306 and 498-A IPC are independent of each other and acquittal of one does not lead to acquittal of the other. It was observed: “Though, there may be an overlap with regard to cruelty being meted out to the deceased in both the Sections, however, the degree of cruelty to constitute abetment under Section 306 IPC would be of higher than the degree of harassment and cruelty to constitute an offence under Section 498-A IPC. It cannot be held that because petitioner has been discharged of an offence under Section 306 IPC, it would automatically lead to a discharge of the offence under Section 498-A IPC.”

In the present case, it was found that there was sufficient material on record to give rise to grave suspicion against the petitioner for framing a charge under Section 498- IPC. Thus, finding no infirmity in the impugned order, the petition was accordingly dismissed.[Kaushal Kishore v. State (NCT of Delhi), 2019 SCC OnLine Del 8713, decided on 28-05-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Chhattisgarh High Court: The Bench of Arvind Singh Chandel, J., while addressing an instant revision being preferred against the charges framed under Sections 306 and 201 read with Section 34 of Penal Code, 1860 stated that, “The word “instigate” means to goad, urge forward, provoke, incite or encourage to do an act.”

Factual matrix of the case is that, marriage between Applicant 1 (husband) and the deceased was solemnized on 06-12-2013 and on the intervening night, deceased committed suicide by consuming some poisonous substance. Allegations against the applicants (Applicant 1-Husband, Applicant 2 & 4- Elder brother and Sister-in-Law of Applicant 1 and Applicant 3-Mother-in-Law) were that they were harassing deceased physically and mentally. Trial Court had framed charges under Section 306 and 201/ read with Section 34 of Penal Code, 1860 against the applicants.

S.C. Verma and Harshvardhan Parganiha, Advocates representing the applicants submitted that the Additional Sessions Judge committed manifest illegality in framing charges against the applicants. As per the prosecution story, deceased committed suicide due to excess sexual act by her husband with her and there was an illicit relationship of Applicant 1 with Applicant 4. On the basis of the stated facts no offence is made out under Sections 306 and 201 read with Section 34 of Penal Code, 1860.

Sangharsh Pandey, Deputy Government Advocate, submitted that there is sufficient material available for presuming that applicants have committed the offence and there is no illegality on the impugned order.

The Court on considering the facts and circumstances of the case, stated that “for making liable for an offence punishable under Section 306 of Penal Code, 1860 it is the duty of prosecution to establish that such person has committed “abetment of suicide”, it is necessary for the determination of the act of the accused to see that his act falls under any of the three ingredients mentioned under Section 107 of Penal Code, 1860.

Reference was made to several decisions of the Supreme Court in, Ramesh Kumar v. State of Chhattisgarh, (2001) 9 SCC 618, Gangula Mohan Reddy v. State of A.P., (2010) 1 SCC 750; in which it was stated that “Abetment involves a mental process of instigating a person or intentionally aiding a person in doing of a thing.”

Therefore, the High Court while concluding its decision stated that the spot map shows that the deceased was living separately along with her husband/Applicant 1 in a room situated on the first floor of her matrimonial house, which negates the allegation of her not being allowed to talk at her maternal house without the phone on being speaker. Along with the stated the other allegations against the applicant also if considered for the sake of arguments to be true, they do not stand to be covered under the word “instigation” as defined under Section 107 of Penal Code, 1860.

The revision was allowed by the High Court and accordingly on no material being available for framing of charge against the applicant they were discharged from the charges. [Devanand Chandwani v. State of Chhattisgarh, 2019 SCC OnLine Chh 19, Order dated 01-03-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Punjab and Haryana High Court: The Bench of Arvind Singh Sangwan, J. set aside an order framing charges under Sections 306 and 506 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 against petitioner.

The facts of the case were that one Amandeep Singh committed suicide after two years of marriage with the petitioner’s daughter. Pursuant to the dispute between the two families, the deceased’s wife left her matrimonial home. Thereafter, the deceased left his house and told his sister on the phone that he was disturbed because of his wife and was going to take his life by jumping in a canal. Later, his car and other belongings along with a gift bag were found near the canal with a note stating “I love U Aman Best Wishes for ours next life. This is last gift for you by me. Muhha Putt love you.”

A First Information Report was registered by father of the deceased – Ranjit Singh – under Sections 306, 506 read with Section 34 of Penal Code, 1860 against the petitioner and his daughter – Amanpreet Kaur. After completion of the investigation, the trial Court passed an order framing charges under Sections 306 and 506 of IPC, against petitioners. Aggrieved thereby, the instant revision petition was filed.

Counsel for the petitioner submitted that there was no direct allegation of abetment against them. Further, the deceased’s suicide note did not suggest that he had leveled any allegations against the petitioners, rather, he had shown his affection towards his wife. It was further argued that nothing on record to show that the petitioners have ever abetted the deceased to commit suicide.

The Court, opined that before holding an accused guilty of an offence under Section 306 IPC, the Court must scrupulously examine facts and circumstances of the case to find out whether the cruelty and harassment meted out to the victim had left him with no other alternative but to put an end to his life. The person who is said to have abetted the commission of suicide must have played an active role by an act of instigation or by doing certain actions to facilitate the commission of suicide. Reliance was placed on Apex Court’s dictum in Bhagwan Das v. Kartar Singh, (2007) 11 SCC 205 and Madan Mohan Singh v. State of Gujarat, (2010) 8 SCC 628.

It was held that there was nothing on record to show that by way of willful conduct of the petitioners, the deceased was compelled to commit suicide. Allegations in the FIR, as well as the material collected during the investigation, did not prima facie constitute offence under Section 306 IPC as no material has come on record to support the allegations/charge against the petitioners. The alleged suicide note only reflected deceased’s love towards his wife and there was no indication of any harassment. Thus, the impugned order was set aside.[Balwinder Singh v. State of Punjab, 2019 SCC OnLine P&H 11, decided on 09-01-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: The Bench of Sanjeev Sachdeva, J. discharged the petitioner-wife of the offence under Section 306 IPC for allegedly abetting suicide of her husband.

Petitioner was wife of the deceased who committed suicide in 2015. It was alleged that on 31-7-2015, petitioner had slapped the deceased in front of other family members. On 02-08-2015, the deceased attempted to commit suicide and expired on the next day. Alleged suicide note was also discovered from his bed. An FIR was registered as per which deceased committed suicide as he was upset about petitioner slapping him. According to the trial court, there was prima facie material against petitioner to frame a charged under Section 306. Petitioner impugned trial court’s order in the present petition.

Lohit Ganguly, Advocate for the petitioner submitted that the trial court failed to appreciate that the material did not suggest that petitioner instigated the deceased to commit suicide.

The High Court referred to Section 107 (abetment of a thing); and decisions in Ramesh Kumar v. State of Chhattisgarh, (2001) 9 SCC 618 where Supreme Court laid down as to what conduct amounts to incitement or instigation; and Pawan Kumar v. State of H.P., (2017) 7 SCC 780 where expression “abetment” was elaborated upon. In the present case, Court did not find any material suggest that petitioner instigated, conspired or aided in the commission of suicide by the deceased. Mere act of wife slapping the husband would not instigate him to commit suicide by the deceased. Furthermore, the alleged suicide did not refer to any incident of slapping. In such circumstances, it was held that no charge under Section 306 could be made against the petitioner. Thus, the petition was allowed and the petitioner was discharged. [Shikha Gupta v. State (NCT of Delhi), 2019 SCC OnLine Del 6394, decided on 08-01-2019]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: A Bench comprising of Uday U. Lalit and Dr D.Y. Chandrachud, JJ. allowed an appeal filed against the judgment of Bombay High Court whereby it had quashed criminal proceedings instituted against the respondent.

According to the FIR for offence under Section 306 IPC, the daughter and son-in-law of the appellant were teachers in a village Zila Parishad School where the respondent was also a teacher. He used to call appellant’s daughter on mobile and harass her. Despite efforts of his son-in-law, the respondent continued to call and harass the appellant’s daughter. There was a verbal altercation between his son-in-law and the respondent after which the son-in-law committed suicide leaving behind a suicide note naming the respondent. The respondent approached the High Court under Section 482 CrPC seeking quashing of the FIR. Observing that prima facie the respondent did not have the intention to aid or instigate the deceased to commit suicide, the High Court quashed the FIR. Aggrieved thereby, the appellant preferred the present appeal by special leave.

The Supreme Court noted that there were definite allegations against the respondent which were supported by statement of witnesses as well as the suicide note written by the deceased. The Court was of the opinion that the High Court was not justified in entering into question whether the respondent had requisite intent to aid, instigate or abate the commission of suicide at the stage where the investigation was yet to be completed. The Court found merit in submissions of the appellant and set aside the judgment impugned. The appeal was allowed and the authorities concerned were directed to complete the investigation.[Narayan Malhari Thorat v. Vinayak Deorao Bhagat,2018 SCC OnLine SC 2571, decided on 28-11-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: A Division Bench comprising of P.N. Deshmukh and M.G. Giratkar, JJ. allowed an application for quashing an FIR lodged for the offence punishable under Section 306 read with Section 34 IPC.

One Rupchand Sirsat, 54, working as Group Secretary in Kherda-Mozari Coop. Society committed suicide and left a suicide note making allegations against the applicant and other MPs and MLAs. The wife of the deceased informed the police, pursuant to which the FIR came to be registered for the offence as mentioned above. The applicants had filed the instant application for quashing of the said FIR.

The High Court, while considering the issue, referred to its previous decisions wherein it was held that for bringing an offence under Section 306, specific abetment as contemplated by Section 107 on the part of the accused, with an intention to bring about the suicide of the person concerned, is required. Further, in order to convict a person under Section 306, there has to be a clear mens rea to commit the offence. However, on the facts of the present case, the Court was of the view that the applicant cannot be said to have abetted the deceased to commit suicide. From the contents of FIR, the Court gathered that the deceased was mentally disturbed due to the death of his son. The concerned death note was written two months prior to the commission of suicide. After writing the said note, the deceased had proceeded on leave. In view of such facts and circumstances, the Court quashed the FIR registered against the applicants. [Pramod Shriram Telgote v. State of Maharashtra,  2018 SCC OnLine Bom 1456, dated 04-07-2018]