26 May 2020


Judgments

Supreme Court

Gurcharan Singh v. State Of Punjab

MANU/SC/1551/2016

02.12.2016

Criminal

To constitute abetment, intention of accused to instigate commission of suicide is imperative

In instant case, assailment is the judgment passed by High Court of Punjab and Haryana, affirming conviction of Appellant and co-accused Sukhvinder Singh under Section 306 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC), as entered by trial Court. While by decision impugned, conviction has been endorsed, substantive sentence of six years of rigorous imprisonment awarded by trial Court to each of accused persons has been scaled down to one of five years of same description. Counsel for appellant urged that, evidence on record does not furnish the ingredients of abetment as visualised in Section 306 of IPC and thus, conviction is manifestly illegal. Further submission that, in-laws of deceased had throughout been considerate, compassionate and supportive towards her and two daughters and that suicide committed by them had been on their own volition and not as a result of any torture, harassment and oppression by them, as alleged.

Offence punishable is one of abetment of commission of suicide by any person, predicating existence of a live link or nexus between the two, abetment being the propelling causative factor. Basic ingredients of provision are suicidal death and abetment thereof. To constitute abetment, intention and involvement of accused to aid or instigate commission of suicide is imperative. Any severance or absence of any of these constituents would militate against this indictment. Contiguity, continuity, culpability and complicity of the indictable acts or omission are the concomitant indices of abetment. Section 306 IPC, thus criminalises the sustained incitement for suicide.

Section 113A of Indian Evidence Act, 1872 permits a presumption as to abetment of suicide by a married woman by her husband or any relative of his, if it is proved that she had committed act within a period of seven years from date of her marriage and that her husband or such relative of his had subjected her to cruelty. Intention of the legislature is that in order to convict a person under Section 306 IPC, there has to be a clear mens rea to commit an offence and that there ought to be an active or direct act leading the deceased to commit suicide, being left with no option, had been propounded by this Court in S.S. Chheena vs. Vijay Kumar Mahajan (2010) 12 SCC 190.

Assessment of evidence does not demonstrate with unqualified clarity and conviction, any role of Appellant or other implicated in-laws of deceased, as contemplated by provisions so as to return an unassailable finding of their culpability under Section 306 of IPC. Materials on record, do not suggest even remotely any act of cruelty, oppression, harassment or inducement so as to persistently provoke or compel deceased to resort to self-extinction being left with no other alternative. No such continuous and proximate conduct of Appellant or his family members with required provocative culpability or lethal instigative content is discernible to even infer that deceased and her daughters had been pushed to such a distressed state, physical or mental that they elected to liquidate themselves as if to seek a practical alleviation from their unbearable earthly miseries. Ingredients of offence of Section 306 of IPC have remained unproved and thus appeal allowed Appellant acquitted.

Relevant

Pinakin Mahipatray Rawal vs. State of Gujarat (2013) 10 SCC 48, S.S. Chheena vs. Vijay Kumar Mahajan (2010) 12 SCC 190, Section 113A of Indian Evidence Act, 1872; Section 306 of Indian Penal Code, 1860

Tags : Conviction Abetment Mensrea

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