A casual quarrel does not constitute an offence of abetment of suicide U/S 306 IPC: Supreme Court

The Supreme Court held that a general argument on the day of the incident is insufficient to constitute the offence of abetment of suicide under section 306 of the Indian Penal Code. The panel of Justices MR Shah and Aniruddha Bose reaffirmed that mere harassment without any affirmative action on the part of the accused in the immediate event of an accident that resulted in suicide would not be considered an offence under Section 306.

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The following is the prosecution’s case:

Both the accused and his wife consumed pesticide after a fight. Although the accused lived, his wife died as a result of taking the pesticide. A charge sheet was filed against the accused of the act under Section 306 IPC after a complaint was submitted by the deceased’s brother.
The court observed in its decision that the accused and the dead married before the age of 25, thus the presumption under Section 113-A of the Evidence Act did not apply.

The Trial Court found him guilty of violating Section 306 of the Indian Penal Code and sentenced him to seven years in prison and a fine of Rs. 2500, as well as violating Section 4(b) of the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Harassment of Women Act and sentenced him to three years in prison and a fine of Rs. 2500. The conviction was confirmed by the Madras High Court.

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Court Stated that,

In terms of the crime under Section 306 IPC, if a person incites another person to commit suicide, and the other person commits suicide as a result of the instigation, the person who caused the incitement is subject to be penalised for abetting the conduct of suicide under Section 306 IPC. Therefore, in order to bring a case under Section 306 IPC, there must be a case of suicide, and the person who is said to have abetted the commission of suicide must have played an active role in the commission of the said offence by instigating or doing something to facilitate the commission of suicide. As this Court noted and decided in the case of Amalendu Pal (supra), mere harassment without any affirmative action on the part of the accused in the immediate event of accident that resulted in the suicide would not constitute an offence under Section 306 IPC.

The court went on to say that abetment occurs when one person encourages another to do something and that incitement can be inferred when the accused has created conditions in which the dead has no choice but to commit suicide as a result of his or her actions or omissions. The allegation against the appellant in this instance is that there was a disagreement on the day of the incident. There is no further evidence of abetment on the record. There is no evidence on the record that the appellant accused took an active part in inciting the deceased to commit suicide. In the current instance, on the contrary, the appellant accused attempted suicide and drank pesticide. There is no further evidence on record that shows abetment under the circumstances and in the facts and circumstances of the case.

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