Dying to be free – The Anatomy of an abetted mind: Akash & Kushagra

DYING TO BE FREE- THE ANATOMY OF AN ABETTED MIND

Author- Akash Krishnan

Co-Author- Kushagra Gahoi 

ICFAI LAW SCHOOL, Hyderabad.

ISSN: 2582-3655

ABSTRACT

The tall, athletic man arrives at the crime scene alongside his CSI partner, a lovely and intelligent woman, their white coats are flashing as the policemen untie the noose of the man hanging by the roof. They check on the marks of his neck for evidence and conclude that the man died due to excessive pressure on his neck. But, was it pressure on the neck which took his life, or was it pressure in his mind, or was it the work of some other person who drove him crazy enough to take his own life?

Suicide is one of the most serious issues that is faced by society today. Today, one wakes up to the death of several students, actors, businessmen, and one doesn’t even have a number for the cases which do not make it to the headlines. Suicide per se was evil enough, but abetting suicide is the act of stan himself. Can someone pressurize a person to end his own life? Can someone continuously harass an individual that he feels so miserable that death seems like an easier option to him than living? Can the entire family corner the new bride to such an extent that instead of raising her voice, she renounces the world itself?

Abetment of suicide essentially means aiding or instigating a person to commit suicide. The same has been laid down in the Indian Penal Code under Section 306 as an offence. This paper aims at understanding the concept of Abetment of suicide and the different forms of it in detail through various judicial precedents laid down by the Court.

Keywords- Abetment, Abuse, Instigation, IPC, Suicide

INTRODUCTION

To understand the concept of Abetment of Suicide, one must first understand the meaning of Abetment and Suicide for starters. Section 108 of the Indian legal code defines an Abettor as someone who does an act to abet another person, knowing that upon such abetment the opposite person would commit an offence. Section 107 of the Indian legal code talks about Abetment. It states that when an individual instigates another person to try to act or conspires with someone or group of persons to perform any act or intentionally aids within the commission of the offence either by an act of illegal omission or commission. within the case of State of West Bengal v. Orilal Jaiswal & Another[1] , the Supreme court in relation to Abetment of Suicide has observed: the Court should be extremely careful in assessing the facts and circumstances of each case and also the evidence adduced within the trail for the aim of finding whether the cruelty dispensed to the victim had induced her to end the life by committing suicide. If it appears to the Court that a victim committing suicide was hypersensitive to ordinary petulance, discord and difference in domestic life quite common to the society to which the victim belonged and such petulance, discord, and difference weren’t expected to induce a similarly circumstanced individual in an exceedingly given society to kill, the conscience of the Court should not be satisfied for basing a finding that the accused charged of abetting the offence of suicide should be found guilty”. Further the court in Chitresh Kumar Chopra v. State (Govt. of NCT of Delhi)[2] , has observed that: “there should be an intention to impress incite or encourage the doing of an act by the latter. Each person’s suicidality pattern is different from the others. All and varied has his idea of self-esteem and self-respect. Therefore, it’s impossible to induce down any straight-jacket formula in managing such cases. Each case has to be selected the premise of its own facts and circumstances.”
Thus, one can come to the conclusion that Abetment implies that the Abettor should be directly accountable for the conduct of the person. He should have instigated the person or aided the person intentionally for the commission of the act. Without an instantaneous relationship between the act of the Abettor and therefore the commission of Suicide, the conviction can not be placed on the Abettor. For conviction under Section 306 of the Indian legal code, there should be a mens-rea which may be accounted for by the Abettor. His actions should be of a nature that the person committing suicide should see no other alternative before him instead of ending his life.

Section 306 of the Indian legal code talks about the Abetment of Suicide. It states that somebody who is chargeable for the abetment of suicide, i.e. the Abettor, shall be convicted, and shall undergo imprisonment or fine or both as a punishment.

The essentials for an act to return under Section 306 of IPC are Abetment to kill and a suicide thanks to that abetment. within the case of Prema S. Rao v. Yadla Srinivasa Rao[3] , the court has opined that “even if a charge under Section 306 has not been made against the Accused, but during the trial, it’s proved that he’s guilty of the act of abetment of suicide, the court can still pass an order of conviction against the accused under Section 306, IPC.” Protecting the sanctity of life has been a sine qua non-intention within the minds of Indian Legislators while drafting any law. Ensuring a healthy existence to a personality’s life and also aiming towards protecting life itself is one of the first goals. The extent of respect shown towards someone’s life by the Legislature is best explained by the actual fact that it not only prohibits someone from taking another person’s life (punishable under section 302) but also penalises an individual who himself tries to position an end to his life by means of suicide (punishable under Section 309) of the Indian legal code. Not only this but also a person who assists or abets the opposite person to succeed in a situation that he performs an act of commission of suicide is additionally subjected to a selected term of punishment.

CONSTITUTIONALITY OF SECTION 306

In the case of Smt. Gyan Kaur v. State of Punjab[4], the Supreme Court holding it constitutional observed that “abetment of try to suicide doesn’t come under section 306 of IPC.” In other countries, while attempt and suicide aren’t recognized as an offense yet the abettor i.e. someone who abets someone to kill is punished. There are provisions for both i.e. the punishment for abetting and try and suicide or the commission of a suicide. Thus, even where the punishment for try and suicide isn’t live, the abetment for the identical is treated as a punishable offence.

In other words, abetment of suicide and abetment to try to suicide are made punishable for cogent reasons within the interest of society. Such a provision is taken under consideration to also prevent the danger inherent within the absence of such a penal provision. Committing suicide isn’t any further a criminal offense in England after the Suicides Act, 1961 came into existence, but aiding and abetting suicide is additionally punishable now. In N. M. Sakhre v. Union of India[5] , the Bombay court held that abetment of suicide under section 306 of the Code may be a wholly independent provision and relates to a certain offence; it’s supported the reasonable public policy to forestall other person’s involvement, instigation and/or aiding in terminating one’s life, and hence isn’t violative of Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution., and is triable by the court of session.

ESSENTIAL INGREDIENTS TO PROVE AN OFFENCE UNDER SECTION 306 IPC BURDEN OF PROOF

In order to prove a case under this section, the most important consideration of the prosecution should be to originate and produce circumstantial pieces of evidence. it isn’t necessary that in each case there would be evidence and proof which might establish an on the spot nexus between the act of instigation i.e. abetment and suicide. These 2 conditions are essential ingredients that should be established. The Supreme Court within the case of Gurbachan Singh v. Satpal Singh[6] stated that the “burden of proof in such cases, heavily lies on the prosecution. it’s a necessity that clear pieces of evidence including circumstantial or direct, if available, to support the prosecution story should be produced before the court.”

DUTY OF THE COURT

Through a catena of judgments, one can come to the conclusion that an extremely protective approach towards women has been adopted by the judicial minds. In light of the increasing number of crimes against women, it’s the duty of the court to bring such offenders to justice. Judges have sensitised over the protection of women’s dignity. it’s pertinent to notice that the effect of such offences isn’t something which is general in nature and may be judged per the facts and circumstances of every case. it’s not only the judicial minds but also the legislature who has expressed its concern over this matter. A presumption has been injected within the Criminal Justice System by way of Section 113A of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 in furtherance of the identical wherein the death of any woman if occurs within the seven years of her marriage and it’s shown that she was subjected to cruelty by her husband or any of the husband’s relative then it shall be presumed that her death was a result of abetment caused by the husband or his relatives.

INSTIGATION

In a landmark judgment of Ramesh Kumar v. State of Chhattisgarh[7], it had been held that “instigation could even be inferred from a series of acts on the component of accused that led to the creation of such circumstances where the deceased had no other option left with him or her than committing suicide. This series of acts may include the use of force, words, conduct, wilful omission or deeds, or for that matter even silence of accused so on harass or irritate the deceased which resultantly caused the latter to need steps to position an end to one’s life. This overt act has to necessarily to not mention a concomitant element called the preparation to encourage the deceased to kill.”

But, it’s pertinent to notice that the word instigation should misread and misinterpreted with the word intimidation as instigation is a necessary element here but intimidation isn’t. Intimidation would often end in the opposite party getting frightened or reacting to the behavior of the opposite person but not taking his own life, whereas instigation can act as a catalyst in driving the opposite party to require his own life. Moreover, even instigation wouldn’t amount to an offence if it’s not in the middle of mens-rea i.e. the intent to form the opposite party kill. it’s necessary that there are an immediate nexus and a right away relationship between the act of abetment and actual commission of suicide. In the absence of such a relationship, it can’t be claimed that the accused abettor acted with a mens-rea i.e. he had the intention of causing death to the opposite person. The apex court said that different persons react differently to a given situation and, therefore, the factum of mens-rea (criminal intention) of the accused needs to be established for charging or convicting someone. within the case of Ramesh Kumar Sahu vs The State Of Madhya Pradesh[8] , it had been observed: “Every person contains a special approach once they face pressure and accommodate it. this does not mean that each one statement that is made to the other person would amount to instigation or abetment. it’s not necessary that every person would react in an exceedingly same thanks to a given set of circumstances. Thus, the intention should be considered on the premise of facts of every case and not in a very general sense.

COMMISSION OF SUICIDE

The Apex Court within the landmark case of Satvir Singh v. State of Punjab[9] , observed that “Section 306 renders a personal punishable of abetment to suicide as long because the condition of the commission of suicide is fulfilled. this will be essential because it’s possible to abet the commission of suicide and not a mere attempt in furtherance of the same. it would be preposterous if the law would penalize such attempts also.” Thus, one can come to the conclusion that only a shot of instigation isn’t an offence unless the opposite party commits suicide upon such instigation. A conviction shall only lie for the abetment of suicide and not for abetment itself.

OTHER FORMS OF ABETMENT OF SUICIDE

TAUNTING TO KILL

The question herein is whether or not repeated taunts made by relations to kill might be treated as abetment of suicide. within the case of Prahlad Das Chela v. State of M.P[10], the Madhya Pradesh tribunal rightly answered the identical in affirmative. during this case, the wife of the individual accustomed continuously taunts her husband to kill. Her members of the family were also involved in similar actions. because of all this pressure and instigation, the husband committed suicide. The court observed that if the taunts are repetitive it should amount to abetment of suicide.

SATI CASES

Where a woman prepared to immolate herself along with the pyre of her husband and thereby become a ‘sati’. The accused persons were present there and followed her to the pyre and stood by her, and her step-sons chanted ‘Ram, Ram’, and also the prime accused in question later admitted that he had told the girl to chant ‘Ram, Ram’, which by doing so she would become a sati, the court observing the scenario held that the accused persons did actively connive and were involved during a conspiracy for an act or illegal omission which had taken place in pursuance of that conspiracy, and thus all the conspirators in question were guilty of abetting the suicide of the deceased under section 306 of the Code.[11] Similarly, where the widow of the deceased was walking in procession with others to the cremation ground with the intention of committing sati and a slogan like ‘sati mata ki jai’ was being raised by the whole procession which followed so these people didn’t allow the police to enter and stop the ritual and also the women was subjected to the burning pyre of her husband, it absolutely was observed that the members of the procession hand mens-rea for the commission of sati and every one of them were guilty of abetment of suicide.[12] In another scenario where the complete family believing on a mythical curse failed to make any try and save the wife of the deceased from committing sati and supplied her with all the ingredients to try to so and motivated her and made her lie on the pyre of her husband, the court held that the very point of not stopping the widow was intention enough which the accused persons were guilty of abetment of suicide.[13] Another case where the family assisted the wife of someone to urge able to perform sati and performed all rituals before that and escorted her to the pyre were held guilty of abetment of suicide.[14]

WIFE FORCED TO COMMIT SUICIDE DUE TO ILLICIT RELATIONSHIP OF HUSBAND

The court in the case of Dammu Sreenu v. State of Andhra Pradesh[15], answering the question in affirmative held that the illicit relationship of the husband had driven the wife to commit suicide and thus the husband was liable for conviction under Section 306 of IPC for abetment of suicide.

In this case, the husband was having an extramarital affair and had been neglecting his wife while having a close relationship with the other woman. He was having the knowledge about his affair being known by his wife and yet continued with the same. The wife committed suicide due to the continuous humiliation and insult she was suffering at the hands of her husband due to the failing marital relationship. Thus, the same was held to be equivalent to abetment of suicide and thus the husband was held guilty for the same.

ASKING FOR REPAYMENT OF LOAN

The court in the case of Vedprakash v. State of Madhya Pradesh [16], the accused in question had the time and again pressurized the accused to pay back the loan and intimidated the deceased as well. Following these events, the deceased unable to take the pressure decided to terminate his own life and committed suicide. The court herein observed that abetment by family members or taunts of husband or wife cannot be equated to demands to pay back the loan. Thus, there is no instigation involved as the intent of the accused was to get back the loan and not cause the death of the accused. Thus, there is no abetment of suicide, and Section 306 of IPC is not attracted.

ABETMENT OF ATTEMPT TO COMMIT SUICIDE

The Supreme Court in the case of Satvir Singh v. State of Punjab[17] observed that an abetment that resulted in an attempt to commit suicide and the person who attempted suicide is still alive would not qualify as an abetment under Section 306. This provision is for the abetment of suicide and it is necessary that death is the final result of abetment. Thus mere attempt of suicide would not attract the provision under Section 306, IPC.

TORTURE OF A NEWLY MARRIED WOMAN

The court in the case of Samir Samanta v. State[18], answered this question negatively. In this case, the newly married bride was continuously harassed for outstanding dowry. Her family settled the same. 2 months later the wife committed suicide and a case was filed under Section 498-A and Section 306 of IPC for the same. The Court held that the case is not about the abetment of suicide but falls under Section 498-A. Further in the case of State of Maharashtra v. Vasant Shanker Mhasane[19], the newly married bride was under continuous harassment. She used to face the music of the entire family from day tonight. She wasn’t allowed to raise her voice and make choices of her own and committed suicide thereafter. The Court held that the suicide was not abetted but it falls within the purview of Section 498-A. Thus, the provision under Section 306, IPC is not attracted.

CONCLUSION

The right to life as provided under Article 21 of the Constitution does not include the right to die within its meaning.  Life is a precious gift and one must appreciate it. Not only one’s own life but also the life of other people. Driving a person into committing suicide is one of the most inhumane crimes of all. It can be compared to slow poisoning causing death. While the blood of the victim is not shed by the accused, his hands are still red from the blood of the victim. Killing the mind of an individual slowly, showing her that death is the only escape and instigating her to take her own life, all this is a part of Abetment.

From Sati to modern-day dowry deaths, all these offenses are a part of the Abetment of suicide. One must understand the importance of mental health and support, which is provided at the right time, could have saved the lives of thousands who died prey of such abetment. The authors feel that the concept of Cruelty and dowry death under Section 498- A IPC should be read along with Section 306 as both of them are inter-related concepts and the punishment for such crimes should be the same as that under Sec 300 for Murder as this offence is no less gruesome in nature.


[1] State of West Bengal v. Orilal Jaiswal & Another. (1994) 1 SCC 73

[2] Chitresh Kumar Chopra v. State (Govt. of NCT of Delhi) 2009 SCALE 24

[3] Prema S. Rao v. Yadla Srinivasa Rao, AIR 2003 SC 11.

[4] Smt. Gyan Kaur v. State of Punjab 1996 AIR 946, 1996 SCC (2) 648

[5] In N. M. Sakhre v. Union of India 1996 (1) BomCR 92, 1995 CriLJ 96, 1994 (2) MhLj 1850

[6] Gurbachan Singh v. Satpal Singh 1990 AIR 209, 1989 SCR Supl. (1) 292

[7] Ramesh Kumar v. State of Chhattisgarh Appeal (crl.)  617 of 2000
[8] M.CR.C.No.35331/2018
[9] Satvir Singh v. State of Punjab Appeal (crl.) 1319  of  1998

[10] Prahlad Das Chela v. State of M.P 1996 (0) MPLJ 27

[11] Nikhil Soni vs Union Of India & Or D.B.Civil Writ Petition  No.7414/2006

[12] Ashok Prasad Mukherjee @ Ashok … vs Smt. Jyoti Prasad Mukherjee 1998 (2) BLJR 872

[13] Raj Kumar vs Vijaya Kumar AIR 1969 All 162

[14] Sunil Chandra Roy And Anr. vs The State 1954 CriLJ 805

[15] Dammu Sreenu v. State of Andhra Pradesh CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 681 OF 2003

[16] Ved Prakash vs The State Of Madhya Pradesh M.Cr.C. No.2395/2011

[17] Satvir Singh v. State of Punjab Appeal (crl.) 123 of  1999

[18] Samir Samanta v. State 1993 CriLJ 134, II (1992) DMC 233

[19] State Of Maharashtra vs Vasant Shankar Mhasane  1994 (1) BomCR 84, 1993 CriLJ 1134, I (1992) DMC 424

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