The Supreme Court on Tuesday held that to attract the provisions of Section 306 IPC, the person who is said to have abetted the commission of suicide must have a played an active role by an act of instigating or by doing a certain act to facilitate the commission of suicide.
The two-judge Bench of Justice M.R. Shah and Justice Aniruddha Bose was hearing an Appeal filed against the Judgment passed by the Madras High Court, Bench at Madurai which had dismissed the Appeal of the accused and upheld the conviction under section 306 IPC and sentencing to imprisonment of three years.
The Appellant-Accused was married to the deceased-wife for 25 years and was involved in a quarrel on the date of the death of the wife. After the quarrel, both the husband and the wife consumed pesticide. However, the husband survived and the wife died.
The brother of the wife (PW1) pressed charges against the Appellant of him having an illicit relationship with another woman, due to which the deceased had committed suicide after the quarrel. Hence, it was alleged that the accused had committed the offence under section 306 IPC and was charged under section 4(b) of the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Harassment of Women Act.
The Madras High Court had partly allowed the Appeal of the accused; however, his conviction under section 306 IPC was upheld.
It was argued by the Appellant that the High Court had committed a grave error in dismissing the Appeal. It was contended that no ingredient of Section 306 is satisfied and it has not been established and proved that the Appellant abetted the commission of suicide of the deceased-wife.
The counsel appearing for the Appellant pleaded before the Court that the Appellant-Accused had also consumed pesticide along with his wife however, unfortunately, the wife died. Also, except for the quarrel, there was no further evidence making the Appellant liable under section 306 IPC.
While the Respondent argued that in the past, many quarrels took place between the Appellant and the deceased as the accused was involved in an illicit relationship with another woman due to which the deceased consumed pesticide and died.
Considering the contentions between the parties and evidence placed before it, the Court observed that the marriage between the Appellant and the deceased persisted for 25 years, hence "presumption under Section 113-A of the Evidence Act shall not arise."
The Bench opined, "A case where if any person instigates other person to commit suicide and as a result of such instigation the other person commits suicide, the person causing the instigation is liable to be punished for the offence under Section 306 IPC for abetting the commission of suicide. Therefore, to bring a case within the provision of Section 306 IPC, there must be a case of suicide and in the commission of the said offence, the person who is said to have abetted the commission of suicide must have played an active role by an act of instigating or by doing a certain act to facilitate the commission of suicide."
Referring to the case of Amalendu Pal v. State of West Bengal, the Court held "mere harassment without any positive action on the part of the accused proximate to the time of occurrence which led to the suicide would not amount to an offence under Section 306 IPC."
The Court noted that there was insufficient evidence on the part of the Prosecution to prove that the Appellant-Accused was liable for the offence punishable under section 306 IPC except that a quarrel took place the prosecution had not proven earlier quarrels regarding the alleged illicit relationship of the husband.
Observing these facts and circumstances, the Court allowed the Appeal and quashed and set aside the impugned Judgment and order passed by the High Court and Trial Court.