Author- Ankita Roy; [University of Calcutta, South Calcutta Law College]
“The Delhi High Court has recently held in a case that mere act of slapping the husband in the presence of other family members, would not, under usual circumstances, instigate the husband to commit suicide.”
The Delhi High Court bench of Sanjeev Sachdeva, J. discharged the petition whereby the wife under Section 306 of IPC was alleged for abetting suicide of her husband. He observed “”The allegation is that the petitioner slapped the deceased in presence of others. Even if one were to consider the incident of alleged slapping as instigation then one has to keep in mind that the alleged conduct should be such as to drive any normal prudent person into committing suicide. Mere act of slapping the husband in presence of others would not under normal circumstances instigate a husband to commit suicide.”
Facts of the case
The petitioner was filed by the wife of the deceased who committed suicide in 2015. The petitioner was married to the deceased on 25.02.2015 according to Hindu rights and ceremonies. A baby girl was born to them who is presently in the custody of the petitioner. The petitioner left her home on 20.05.2015 because of disputes which arose between them.
Thereafter, a complaint was lodged by the petitioner against the deceased and her in-laws with the Crime against them in Women Cell, Gurgaon. After the parties attended the hearing at the Women Cell, it was alleged that the petitioner slapped her husband (the deceased) in front of the family members. However, on 02.08.2015 the deceased attempted to commit suicide and was taken to the hospital. Subsequently, he expired on 03.08.2015 and an alleged suicide note was discovered from the bed of the deceased. As a consequence, a FIR was registered against the petitioner under Section 306/34 of IPC.
The Trial Court observed that proximity of committing suicide with the alleged act of the accused and the fact that the accused committed suicide as a direct consequence of the slap given by the petitioner was a matter of trial.
However, the learned counsel for the petitioner submitted before the court that the Trial Court has mistaken in not appreciating that there is no material to suggest that the petitioner instigated her husband to commit suicide or under any circumstances, abetted the commission of the suicide. The counsel further explained in terms of Section 306 of IPC, a person abets the doing of a thing who instigates any person to do that or engages with one or more persons in any conspiracy for the doing of that thing or intentionally aids, by any act or illegal commission of doing of that thing. Therefore, in case of suicide, a person is liable for abetment if the person has inter alia instigated the deceased for committing suicide or has engaged in any conspiracy for committing suicide or intentionally aided the commission of the suicide.
The counsel further referred to the judgment in the Supreme Court in Ramesh Kumar vs. State of Chhattisgarh (2001)9 SCC 618 wherein the court laid down as to what conduct would amount to incitement. In another case State of West Bengal vs. Orilal Jiaswal (1994), the court held that the court should be extremely careful in assessing the facts of each case and scrutinize the evidence thoroughly to find out whether the cruelty meted out to the victim had induced her to end her life by committing suicide. The counsel also referred to another judgment of the Supreme Court in Pawan Kumar vs. State of H.P (2017) where the Supreme Court enunciated on the expression of abetment.
Decision of the Court
In the present case, the court did not find any material that suggests that the petitioner instigated in the commission of suicide by the deceased. Therefore, it was observed that mere act of slapping the husband would not amount to instigate him to commit suicide. Furthermore, the alleged suicide note did not refer to any incident of slapping. Therefore, it was held that no charge under Section 306 could be made against the petitioner. For the petitioner to be liable, not only suspicion but grave suspicion of the accused having committed the offense is necessary. Clearly, the facts and allegations do not show that there is any instigation on the part of the petitioner which could have instigated the deceased to commit suicide.