karnataka high court

Karnataka High Court: While considering the instant petition for quashment of FIR registered for offence under Section 306 r/w Section 149 of Penal Code, 1860, the Bench of Venkatesh Naik T., J.*, stated that merely because a person has been so named in a suicide note, one cannot immediately jump to conclusion that such a person is the offender under Section 306, IPC. The contents of the suicide note, and other attending circumstances have to be examined to find out that whether it is abetment within the meaning of Section 306 r/w Section 107 of IPC.

The deceased was serving as a teacher at Sasbal Government School since May 2022 and was later appointed as the Principal. His wife had alleged that the accused no.1 (petitioner herein) who was the former Principal and had been elevated as Cluster Resource Centre Coordinator, was exerting tremendous pressure on the deceased as the accused no.1 had not maintained the documents and records properly during his tenure as Principal. The deceased’s wife further alleged that the accused persons were harassing the deceased and fed up with the consistent harassment, the deceased hanged himself from a neem tree. A suicide note was found in his pocket wherein he blamed the accused persons for taking this drastic step.

Consequently, the wife registered the FIR and taking the exception, accused filed the instant petition to quash the FIR.

Counsel for the accused persons argued before the Court that mere issuance of show cause notices to discharge official functions cannot be construed as harassment so as to abet a staff member to commit suicide. It was contended that there is no mens rea and no nexus between the deceased and the issuance of show cause notices.

Per contra, the respondents argued that there is prima facie material available to show that the accused persons compelled the deceased to commit suicide by their constant harassment, thereby attracting Section 306 of IPC.

Perusing the facts and contentions, the Court pointed out that investigation is pending in the instant case and the officer has to probe the veracity of the contents of the suicide note. the Court further pointed out that at this stage there appears to be a prima facie nexus between conduct of the accused and the deceased’s suicide.

Vis-à-vis the suicide note left by the deceased, the Court noted that merely the suicide note names a person, no conclusion of such person’s guilt should be drawn, as it is necessary for the investigating officer to examine the contents of the note and other circumstances in order to find out that whether offence of abetment to suicide has been committed or not.

Taking note of the facts of the instant case, the Court was of the view that disputed questions of fact cannot be adjudicated by the Court in a quashment petition under Se. 482, CrPC and at this stage, only prima facie case is to be seen. Therefore, the Court dismissed the instant petition.

[Hanamantraya v. State, 2023 SCC OnLine Kar 72, decided on 09-10-2023]

*Order by Justice Venkatesh Naik T.

Advocates who appeared in this case :

For petitioner- Advocate Avinash A. Uploankar

For respondent- Anitha M. Reddy, HCGP for R1 and Advocate Ganesh S. Kalaburagi for R2

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