The Supreme Court quashed criminal proceedings against a person who was working as District Savings Officer accused of abetting suicide of a Senior Clerk in the office.

The court said that though the suicide note clearly showed that the deceased was frustrated due to work pressure, that alone is not sufficient to proceed against the accused. In the present matter, the suicide note was the only foundation of the charge-sheet filed against the accused-appellant.

After perusing the suicide note a Bench of Justice BR Gavai and Justice Sandeep Mehta, while referring Netai Dutta v. State of W.B. (2005) 2 SCC 659, the Bench further observed, “He was also feeling the pressure of working in two different districts. However, such apprehensions expressed in the suicide note, by no stretch of imagination, can be considered sufficient to attribute to the appellant, an act or omission constituting the elements of abetment to commit suicide…Thus, we have no hesitation in holding that the necessary ingredients of the offence of abetment to commit suicide are not made out from the chargesheet and hence allowing prosecution of the appellant is grossly illegal for the offences punishable under Section 306 IPC and Section 3(2)(v) of the SC/ST Act tantamounts to gross abuse of process to law”, the bench further observed

In the present matter, the accused-appellant had sought quashing of proceeding pending against him in the trial court for the offences punishable under Section 306 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and Section 3(2)(v) of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 (SC/ST Act).

The accused-appellant herein was working as the District Savings Officer in Kannauj District. It is alleged that one Data Ram(deceased), posted as Senior Clerk, Child Welfare Board, Fatehgarh, committed suicide on October 3, 2002 by consuming a poisonous substance in his own house. The deceased wrote a suicide note before ending his life.

Pertinently, the Investigating Officer conducted the investigation and filed a closure report. However, investigation was re-opened and charge-sheet came to be filed against the accused appellant for the offences punishable under Section 306 IPC and Section 3(2)(v) of the SC/ST Act.

Therefore, the appellant-accused argued that even if the allegations in the suicide note are accepted as true, they do not meet the necessary criteria for the offenses alleged. It was contended that the suicide note merely reflects the frustration of the deceased with the working style of the appellant and another official, which drove him to take his own life due to work pressure.

However, the State argued that the appellant and another official harassed the deceased to such an extent that he felt compelled to commit suicide. Furthermore, that the allegations in the suicide note constitute the necessary elements of abetment to suicide, justifying the continuation of the criminal proceedings.

The Court was of the opinion that there did not exist any justifiable ground so as to permit the prosecution of the appellant for the offences under Section 306 IPC and Section 3(2)(v) of the SC/ST Act. Accordingly, the impugned order passed by the High Court were quashed and set aside.

Cause Title: Prabhat Kumar Mishra @ Prabhat Mishra v. The State Of U.P. & Anr. [Neutral Citation: 2024:INSC:172]

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