Boss not liable for employee`s suicide, says SC

If an employee commits suicide and even if it is assumed that he was wronged by the superior officer, the latter cannot be tried for abetting the suicide, the Supreme Court has ruled.

Last Updated: Aug 18, 2010, 20:57 PM IST

New Delhi: If an employee commits suicide
and even if it is assumed that he was wronged by the superior
officer, the latter cannot be tried for abetting the suicide,
the Supreme Court has ruled.

The apex court said there has to be clear evidence to say
that the accused had instigated or conspired with someone to
abet the suicide.

"We may say that merely because a person had a grudge
against his superior officer and committed suicide on account
of that grudge, even honestly feeling that he was wronged, it
would still not be a proper allegation for basing the charge
under Section 306 IPC," a Bench of Justices V S Sirpurkar and
Cyriac Joseph said in a judgement.

Section 306 refers to abetment of suicide which carries a
punishment of imprisonment upto 10 years.

The apex court passed the judgement while quashing a
cases registered under Section 306 IPC and 294 IPC (causing
annoyance in public case) against Madan Mohan Singh who was
working in a BSNL project in Ahmedabad.

The case was registered against Singh on the basis of a
suicide note left behind by Deepakbhai Kishanla Joshi who was
a driver under the accused officer.

The deceased`s family had claimed that Singh had harassed
Joshi as he stopped doing his personal errands.

The FIR was lodged against the officer on March 17, 2008,
on the basis of the suicide note which stated "I am going
to commit suicide due to his functioning style. Alone MM
Singh, D.E.T Microwave project is responsible for my death.

The apex court said the intention of the accused to aid
or to instigate or to abet the deceased to commit suicide is a
must to establish and offence under Section 306PC.

"It is absurd to even think that a superior officer like
the appellant would intend to bring about suicide of his
driver and therefore abet the offence. In fact, there is no
nexus between the so-called suicide and any of the alleged
acts on the part of the appellant/accused.

"Unless therefore, there is specific allegation and
material of definite nature (not imaginary or inferential
one), it would be hazarduous to ask the appellant/accused to
face the trial.

A criminal trial is not exactly a pleasant experience.
A person like the appellant in the present case, who is
serving in a responsible post, would certainly suffer great
prejudice were he to face prosecution for "absurd allegations
of irrelevant nature," the apex court said.

The apex court said that on the basis of the suicide note
there was nothing to suggest that there was an intention on
the part of the accused that the deceased might commit
suicide.

"If the prosecutions are allowed to continue on such
basis, it will be difficult for every superior officer to even
to work," the Bench added.

PTI