Abeting suicide: SC says accused should play "active" act

Unless there is a "active" act on the part of the accused to instigate the victim to commit suicide, a person cannot be charged or convicted for abeting the offence, the Supreme Court has ruled.

New Delhi: Unless there is a "active" act
on the part of the accused to instigate the victim to commit
suicide, a person cannot be charged or convicted for abeting
the offence, the Supreme Court has ruled.

The apex court said that different persons react
differently to a given situation and, therefore, the factum of
mensrea (criminal intention) of the accused has to be
established for charging or convicting a person.
A bench of justices Dalveer Bhandari and S S Nijjar
gave the judgement while quashing the case of abetment to
suicide under 306 IPC registered against the mother-in-law and
brothers-in law of a woman, Kamakshi who committed suicide
after being taunted at her matrimonial home for not possessing
a car.
"The deceased was undoubtedly hyper-sensitive to
ordinary petulance, discord and differences which happen in
our day-to-day life.

"In a joint family, instances of this kind are not
very uncommon. Human sensitivity of each individual differs
from person to person. Each individual has his own idea of
self-esteem and self-respect. Different people behave
differently in the same situation," justice Bhandari writing
the judgement observed.

The case of the prosecution is that on January 14,
2005, Kamakshi wanted to use the matrimonial family`s Qualis
vehicle to go to the Theme Park at Madurai from Karaikudi
along with other family members.

However, it was alleged that Easwari, wife of the N
Mohan, brother of the deceased`s husband, Ananadraj taunted
her saying that "if she (Kamakshi) wanted to go around in a
car, she has to get a car from her parents. These words deeply
hurt Kamakshi who committed suicide on January 18, 2005 at
1.30 PM at her matrimonial home.

Before taking the extreme step, she is said to have
made a request to her father to buy her a car.
Police registered cases under Section 306 against
Kamakshi`s husband, Anandraj, his brothers --Mohan and
Velumurgan, and the mother-in-law.

Aggrieved Mohan, Velumurgan and the mother-in-law
approached the Madras High Court on the ground that they were
falsely roped in the case. The High Court refused to quash the
case, following which they appealed in the apex court.

Upholdoing the appeal, the apex court said abetment
involves a mental process of instigating a person or
intentionally aiding a person in committing an act.

"Without a positive act on the part of the 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 the offence.

"It also requires an active act or direct act which
led the deceased to commit suicide seeing no option and this
act must have been intended to push the deceased into such a
position that he/she committed suicide," the bench said.

PTI

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