Bombay HC| “Sudden reaction of a 19-year-old boy to the news of pregnancy, May fall short of the essential ingredients required to form the offence of abetment to suicide”

Bombay High Court

   

Bombay High Court: While deciding the instant bail application of a 20-year-old boy charged with abetment of suicide of a 16-year-old girl, the Single Judge Bench of Bharti Dangre, J., observed that in order to invoke offence under Section 306, Penal Code, 1860 i.e., abetment to commit suicide; it is necessary to establish its ingredients, i.e., instigation or incitement, for the deceased to commit suicide. The sudden reaction of a 19-year-old boy to the news of pregnancy may fall short of it.

Facts of the case: A 16-year-old girl (now deceased) was pursuing her education in the 11th standard. She told her mother about her developing relationship with the applicant with whom she met on Instagram. The mother of the deceased alleged that the applicant was harassing her daughter as a result of which she was disturbed. On 03-03-2021 the girl hanged herself in the bedroom pursuant to which the mother lodged the complaint.

During the investigation, the deceased's WhatsApp chat with the applicant was revealed which consisted of conversations referring to a pregnancy kit and deceased's apprehension regarding a possible pregnancy. The chats also appeared to reveal the applicant's alleged indifferent and abusive attitude towards the deceased's predicament.

In due course of the investigation, the deceased's autopsy was carried out which did not reveal any sign of pregnancy and cause of death was ascertained as ‘asphyxia due to hanging'.

Observations

  • Perusing the facts and details revealed during the investigation, the Court observed that the deceased had missed her periods by two weeks and thus she took a pregnancy test, which revealed that she was pregnant. Therefore, she established contact with the applicant via WhatsApp and when he expressed an indifferent approach, the girl rife with anxiety, unfortunately decided to take the extreme step of ending her life.

  • The Court further noted that the investigation has been completed. It was pointed out that the postmortem report clearly revealed that the deceased was not pregnant and anxious with thought of conceiving, and on noticing the applicant's unexpected response, she made up her mind to commit suicide.

  • The Court also noted that the applicant was 19 years old when the unfortunate incident took place. The Court further noted the proximate relationship shared between the applicant and the deceased and the applicant's alleged indifferent reaction to the news of pregnancy.

Conclusion and Decision: With the afore-stated observations and considering the young age of the applicant, the Court decided that his incarceration upon the completion of investigation is unwarranted. “He shall ultimately face the consequences of his acts, when he shall face the trial.”

  • The Court also clarified that its observations are restricted only for the purposes of determining the instant application and the Trial Court should not be influenced by these observations.

  • The applicant was granted bail with conditions attached.

[Kunal Chabu Doke v. State of Maharashtra, BAIL APPLICATION NO.3550 OF 2021, decided on 17-08-2022]


Advocates who appeared in this case :

Shantanu Phanse, Advocate, for the Applicant;

S.V. Gavand, APP, Advocate, for the State-Respondent No.1;

Jaideep Thakker, Advocate, for the Respondent No.2.


*Sucheta Sarkar, Editorial Assistant has prepared this brief.

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