Author: Sudipto Halder, 3rd year student at KIIT School of Law, Bhubaneswar.
Citation: S.C.No.1339 of 2014
Date of Decision: 12th September, 2019
Bench: N. Sunil Kumar Singh
Original Copy: N/A
Statutes Involved: Indian Penal Code, Indian Evidence Act
Background of the case:
- The said deceased had borrowed an amount of Rs 1,10,000/- from the accused person. The deceased namely Sri Shukath Ali was unable to pay back the loan amount on time. The delay in repayment of the loan amount led to a rift between the two. The accused person started abusing him on phone calls for not paying the money and even approached the deceased’s residence and rebuked him regarding the same and thereby abetting him to commit suicide.
- On 31/02/2013 Sri Shukath Ali committed suicide near house number 6, Nala Road, Shivajinagar. He committed suicide my consuming metacide (a kind of pesticide) and died after he was moved to the hospital by his family. An FIR was filed at Shivajinagar Police Station by his wife (Prosecution Witness no. 4).
- The police sent the deceased body for a post mortem report and seized a vial containing the poison consumed by the deceased and recorded the statement of accused no. 3 and detained him under section 167 of CrPC. On 15/0/2013 a constable was directed to send the body parts of the deceased affected by poison for scientific research in the State’s forensic lab.
- The accused no. 2 & 3 were released as they have applied for anticipatory bail before the court prior to their arrest. During this period the police have seized the phones and secured the details of phone calls between the accused and the victim. The accused were charged with abetment to suicide and murder under section 306 and section34 of the Indian penal code.
- The prosecution examined all 16 witnesses to proof that the accused abetted the suicide of Sri Shukath Ali. Prosecution Witness no. 4 During examination by the prosecution, it was confirmed that her husband (the deceased) had taken a loan from the accused. She also stated that on 31/02/2013 the accused threatened her husband for failure to repay the loan and her husband also asked Imran to arrange for Rs 30,000/- for repaying a part of his loan from the accused.
- Rehmath Ali (Prosecution Witness no. 7) informed her about the deceased to have consumed poison. The Prosecution Witness no. 7 stated that he was intimidated by one of his friends that his brother was forced by the accused to consume poison. The Prosecution Witness no. 7 was aware that his brother had taken a loan from the accused. Prosecution Witness no. 6 who is the brother in law of the deceased stated that during his visit to the hospital he did not know that the deceased was poisoned by someone.
- The Prosecution has also examined the scientific officer of State Forensics Lab (Prosecution Witness no. 1). In her report she stated that tests were conducted on the samples sent from the body of the deceased, she confirmed the presence of methyl parathion pesticide in the victim’s body and suggested it to be the cause of death.
Issues in Hand:
- Whether the accused can be held liable for abetment to suicide or not?
- Whether the accused are punishable under Section 34 of Indian Penal Code or not?
- Whether Section 503 of Indian penal code is applicable on the accused or not?
- During cross examination of Prosecution Witness no. 4, she claimed that she had no knowledge that the deceased consumed poison because of abetment of suicide and therefore turned hostile to the prosecution. The evidence given by Prosecution Witness no. 4 was not favourable and had no merit to support the charges on the accused.
- Prosecution Witness no. 7 admitted that he was aware that his brother had taken a loan from the accused but it was not in his knowledge that this led to the abetment of suicide by the accused. Therefore, now Prosecution Witness no. 7 turning hostile during examination gives no reason for the accused to be charged for abetment and murder.
- The learned court stated based on the facts and evidence presented before the court, there is no evidence to prove the charges for which the accused have been taken on remand. The evidence of witnesses on behalf of the prosecution does not corroborate with the evidence of Prosecution Witness no. 7 & 4 and the accused persons were discharged on the grounds of benefit of doubt.
- As we all know that Section 306 of IPC talks about punishment for abetment to suicide, similarly in section 108 of IPC it describes who is an abettor. Abetment of suicide is considered to be a serious offence that is tried in a Sessions court and is cognizable, non-bailable and non-compoundable. In the present case the facts and the evidence produced before the court does not justify anything mentioned in section108. Therefore, the benefit of doubt is on the defendant.
- For the court to determine whether it’s an abetment to suicide or not two ingredients are required, one is death by suicide, and the other is the defendant’s intention to induce suicide. From a legal point of view, whether a death is suicide is determined by facts, which means that the evidence must be evaluated before the death can be declared suicide.
- The word suicide is generously attributed to all cases of self-destruction, but suicide is never intentional. When it is known that the deceased knows the possible consequences of self-harm but does so deliberately, the decision to commit suicide will be made.
- In the case of Sangarabonia Sreenu v State of Andhra Pradesh (1997) the Supreme Court stated that abetment to suicide and murder are not the same thing. Although the defendant deliberately intends the person to commit suicide, incitement to suicide is not the same as murder. The cause of death is the same in both cases but they are two different crimes.