Madhya Pradesh High Court

Madhya Pradesh High Court: In an application for quashing of criminal proceedings for abetment of suicide under Section 306 IPC, a single-judge bench comprising of G.S. Ahluwalia, J., upheld the initiation of criminal proceedings against the applicants under Section 306 IPC, emphasising the significance of continuous harassment and its impact on the deceased, leading to his suicide. The Court reiterated the necessity of a positive act and clear mens rea in abetment cases, aligning with principles established by the Supreme Court in Gangula Mohan Reddy v. State of A.P., (2010) 1 SCC 750.

Factual Matrix

In the instant matter, the applicants filed an application under Section 482 of CrPC seeking to quash criminal proceedings initiated against them for abetment of suicide under Section 306 IPC. The applicants erroneously impleaded the deceased as respondent 2 instead of his mother. The deceased committed suicide on 20-12-2022. A suicide note was recovered implicating the applicants, leading to registration of an FIR against them. The prosecution case is that the applicants threatened the deceased to falsely implicate him in a case of rape and eve-teasing, leading to the deceased’s suicide.

The applicants argued that the allegations, even if true, do not constitute abetment under Section 107 IPC. The applicants relied on M. Mohan v. State, (2011) 3 SCC 626 and Ganjula Mohan Reddy v. State of A.P., (2010) 1 SCC 750 and argued that there must be a clear mens rea and active act to commit the offence. However, the State opposed the application, arguing that the applicants continuously threatened the deceased, leading to his suicide. The State asserted that continuous humiliation and threats can amount to abetment.

Legislative Provisions:

  1. Section 107 IPC defines abetment as “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 persons in any conspiracy for the doing of that thing; or thirdly intentionally aids by any act or illegal omission the doing of that thing”.

  2. Section 306 IPC states that “if any person commits suicide, whoever abets the commission of such suicide shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years and shall also be liable to fine”.

Court’s Analysis

The Court noted that the applicants argued that the deceased was hypersensitive to ordinary disputes, which alone cannot constitute abetment. The Court noted that the prosecution’s case is based on continuous and severe harassment, which if proved, can be seen as instigation under Section 107 IPC. The Court acknowledged the misidentification of respondent 2 (deceased instead of his mother) but noted that same did not undermine the substance of the case against the applicants.

The Court referred to Chitresh Kumar Chopra v. State (NCT of Delhi), (2009) 16 SCC 605 and Praveen Pradhan v. State of Uttaranchal, (2012) 9 SCC 734, where the Supreme Court emphasised that abetment requires instigation or intentional aid which involves provocation or encouragement leading to suicide. The Court also referred Gangula Mohan Reddy (Supra), where the Supreme Court held that “abetment involves a mental process of instigating a person or intentionally aiding a person in doing of a thing. Without a positive act on part of accused to instigate or aid in committing suicide, conviction cannot be sustained. In order to convict a person under section 306 IPC, there has to be a clear mens rea to commit offence.” The Supreme Court further opined that “if it appears to Court that a victim committing suicide was hypersensitive to ordinary petulance, discord and differences in domestic life quite common to society to which victim belonged and such petulance, discord and differences were not expected to induce a similarly circumstances individual in a given society to commit suicide, conscience of Court should not be satisfied for basing a finding that accused charged of abetting suicide should be found guilty.”

The Court noted that specific allegations against the accused were supported by witness statements, particularly from the deceased’s mother and these statements highlighted continuous harassment and threats faced by the deceased. The Court further noted that although applicant 2, did not specifically threaten to falsely implicate the deceased, the evidence indicated she shared the common intention to harass the deceased along with the other accused. The Court asserted that threats of false implication in heinous crimes, such as rape, are not mere empty threats. These threats can demean and destroy a person’s self-esteem and career, leading to significant psychological distress and possibly suicide.

“a constant threat to falsely implicate the deceased in a case of rape and eve teasing and to send him to jail would not be a mere empty threat but it would demean and destroy his self-esteem as well as his career by branding him as a criminal of committing a heinous crime of rape and by ensuring that the deceased is lodged in jail on the basis of false allegations. If the deceased was afraid and was apprehensive of destruction of his self-esteem and respect in the society, then on account of daily humiliation at the hands of the accused persons, if the deceased committed suicide, then prima facie an offence under Section 306 of IPC would be made out.”

The Court found that there is sufficient prima facie evidence of continuous harassment and threats by the applicants, which could amount to instigation under Section 107 IPC. The Court held that there was sufficient material to prosecute the accused under Section 306 of the IPC, dismissing the application for exemption from trial.

Court’s Decision

The Court held that the allegations and evidence presented a prima facie case of abetment to suicide, warranting further legal proceedings against the applicants and denied the application for quashing the criminal proceedings.

[Shivani Nishad v. State of M.P., 2024 SCC OnLine MP 2945, order dated 07-05-2024]

*Judgment by Justice G.S. Ahluwalia

Advocates who appeared in this case :

Ms. Indu Pande, Counsel for the Applicant

Shri Dilip Parihar, Counsel for the Respondents

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