Employer setting big targets, not granting leave and not accepting resignation would be acts in normal course of business: Bom HC grants anticipatory bail to employer accused of abetting suicide committed by employee

Bombay High Court: Sarang V. Kotwal, J., addressed a matter wherein an employer was accused of abetting the suicide of an employee.

The applicant sought anticipatory bail for offence registered under Sections 306 read with 34 of the Penal Code, 1860 (IPC).

First Information Report was lodged by the wife of the deceased, whose suicide was the subject matter of the investigation. The applicant was the director of the company, for which the deceased was working.

In 2011, the applicant’s children joined the company as directors, but they were unhappy with the performance of the deceased, and they started humiliating the deceased. The FIR also mentioned that recently the company had implemented unfair rules.

It was added that due to the humiliation the deceased was disturbed as the company did not provide him with leaves and basic facilities like a driver for his vehicle.

In view of the above, the deceased started suffering from weakness and other medical ailments.

In addition to the above, it was stated that the informant had advised the deceased to leave the company. At that time, the deceased had told her that, those who had left the company had to face different cases. The company had not given gratuity to them. Therefore, the deceased was reluctant to leave the job.

Later, the deceased approached the applicant with a resignation letter, but the applicant did not entertain him and told him that he was free to do whatever he wanted to. Also, the applicant told the deceased that he would see that the deceased would not get any other job and the deceased was threatened regarding the future of his career.

On 30th September, 2021 the deceased went to the office and there were allegations that during the lunch hours he was sitting with the applicant and applicant’s son and within a short time after that, he jumped from the office building.

In view of the above, FIR was lodged.

Analysis, Law and Decision

High Court observed that while it is true that the deceased had written in the Notebook that the applicant was the main cause, the reason for this grudge is elaborated in the F.I.R.

Bench remarked that the acts as mentioned like not providing a driver for vehicle, deceased being asked to stand for a meeting daily, etc. were not things that could be covered under the meaning of Sections 107 read with 306 IPC.

Court observed noted that,

The F.I.R. itself shows that the deceased was taking treatment for his stress management. He was disturbed and in the disturbed state of mind he had committed suicide. So, there is possibility that his commission of suicide was a result of his mental state. Though, there are allegations that he was disturbed because of stress in the company, the company was entitled to carry its business in the manner that was in the best interest of the company. That by itself would not mean that the bigger targets were given and meeting was arranged, so that the deceased would commit suicide. The only serious allegation in the F.I.R. is about the applicant threatening the deceased about his prospects in career.

Whether the applicant’s custodial interrogation in this background is necessary?

High Court held that it was doubtful whether the offence, under Sections 306 read with 107 of IPC was made out.

The main allegations are about the company setting big targets, not granting leave and not accepting the resignation. These acts would be in the normal course of business. The deceased was earning Rs.1,35,000/-p.m. He was working with the company since the year 2001. The company had not stopped his salary, even during the period of lockdown.

Therefore, in Court’s opinion applicant was granted anticipatory bail. [Dr Surendra Manjrekar v. State of Maharashtra, 2022 SCC OnLine Bom 287, decided on 28-1-2022]


Advocates before the Court:

Mr Ashok Mundargi, Sr. Advocate i/b. Jayant J. Bardeskar for Applicant.
Mr Rajesh More, for Intervenor.
Smt. A. A. Takalkar, APP for State/Respondent.

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