Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh High Court: While dealing with the intriguing question regarding criminal liability of a debtor of abetment of suicide where the creditor has committed suicide on being prompted by debtor’s refusal to repay the loan amount, Rajnesh Oswal, J., answered in negative. The Bench stated,
“Though the different persons may react or respond to a particular situation differently but this court is of the considered opinion that mere refusal to repay the loan cannot in any way can be considered to be an act of abetment to drive the deceased to commit suicide.”
The instant petition had been filed under Section 482 CrPC for quashing the challan arising out of FIR registered for offences under Section 306 of the RPC, which was pending before the Trial Court and also the order dated 12-03-2011, by virtue of which the charge for commission of offence under Section 306 had been framed against the petitioner.
The facts of the case were such that one, Ghan Shyam had seriously injured himself by stabbing himself in the chest and died en route while being taken to the hospital. On inquest, the police found that the deceased, aged 35-36 years, was a street vendor and his mother-in-law i.e the petitioner was also in the same business.
The deceased had allegedly given Rs. 73,000 as loan to his mother-in-law for the sake of her business and was himself indebted to many people. He used to be harassed by his lenders to clear his debts. On 07-12-2009, the deceased demanded the petitioner to return the money and it led to verbal altercation between the deceased and the petitioner and the deceased said that if the petitioner did not clear her dues towards him, he would kill himself, as he was being harassed by the debtors. On this, the petitioner expressed her incapability to return the money as she had no money to return. The said incident prompted the deceased to take the extreme step by inflicting injury with knife in the chest.
Contentions Raised by the Petitioner
After the completion of the investigation, challan was filed and the same was pending before the Additional Sessions Judge. The Trial Court framed the charges for commission of offences under Section 306 RPC against the petitioner and the same was challenged by the petitioner on the ground that the impugned FIR had been registered after the delay of almost a year from the death of the deceased. It was further submitted by the petitioner that there was not even an iota of evidence on record that the petitioner at any point of time abetted the commission of suicide by the deceased, as such, the proceedings pending before the Trial Court were nothing but an abuse of process of law.
Opinion and Analysis
From the bare perusal of the allegations in the challan as well as the charges framed against the petitioner, it was evident that the deceased committed suicide when the petitioner refused to return the amount of Rs. 73,000 which she had taken from the deceased Ghan Shyam, who happens to be her son-in-law.
Opining that in order to charge a person for commission of offences under Section 306 RPC, there must be evidence on record that the accused abetted the commission of suicide by the deceased, the Bench examined the definition of abetment as defined by Section 107 of the RPC, which reads as under:-
“107. Abetment of a thing – A person abets the doing of a thing, who: First – Instigates any person to do that thing; or Secondly – Engages with one or more other person or persons in any conspiracy for the doing of that thing, if an act or illegal omission takes place in pursuance of that conspiracy, and in order to the doing of that thing; or 5 CRMC No. 92/2013 Thirdly – Intentionally aids, by any act or illegal omission, the doing of that thing.”
In Swamy Prahaladdas v. State of M.P., 1995 Supp. (3) SCC 438, the appellant was charged for an offence under Section 306 I.P.C. on the ground that the appellant during the quarrel is said to have remarked the deceased to go and die. The Supreme Court was of the view that mere words uttered by the accused to the deceased to go and die were not even prima facie enough to instigate the deceased to commit suicide. Similarly, in Vaijnath Kondiba Khandke v. State of Maharashtra, (2018) 7 SCC 781, the accused therein assigned some work to his employee and further the said employee was called at odd hours and even on holidays to get the work done and the said accused had stopped his salary for one month and also threatening that his increment would be stopped. The Supreme Court held that the same cannot be held to be an offence under Section 306 of the IPC and the FIR for commission of the offences under Section 306 of the IPC was quashed by the Supreme Court.
Accordingly, the Bench was of the view that one can be charged for the offence of abetment only when he instigates any person to do that thing or intentionally or engages with one or more other person in conspiracy for the doing of that thing or intentionally aids, by any act or illegal omission, the doing of that thing. The allegation against the petitioner was that she refused to return the money to the deceased, as a result of which he committed suicide. Opining that in order to constitute an offence of abetment, the act committed by the accused must be of such nature so that the deceased must be left with no other option but to take extreme step of ending his life, the Bench stated that mere refusal by the petitioner to repay the loan would not in any way be considered to be an act of abetment to drive the deceased to commit suicide.
Viewed thus, the held that the ingredients of offence under Section 306 of the RPC were absolutely lacking in the instant case and the Trial Court had not considered this vital aspect of the case. Hence, the impugned order was set aside, the petitioner was discharged for commission of offences under Section 306 RPC and the challan was dismissed.[Gauri Devi v. State of J&K, CRMC No. 92 of 2013, decided on 13-08-2021]
Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.
For the Petitioner: Mr Basit M. Keng, Advocate
For the UT of J&K: Mr Aseem Sawhney, AAG