Author: Bharat Sharma, 3rd year student at RNB Global University.
Date of Decision: July 25, 2019
Bench: Dinesh Maheshwari, A. M. Sapre
Original Copy: – View
Statutes involved: Indian Penal Code , 1860, Juvenile Justice Act, 2000
Issue in question:
- Whether the accused will be liable under Section 306 read with Section 34 of the IPC?
- Whether the Accused no. 3 was a juvenile at the time of the commission of the offence?
Background of the case:
- The allegation of abetment to commission for the suicide was file against the appellant Ude Singh, Manoj Kumar and Daulat Ram and one Hem Karan alias Hemla, under Section 306 read together with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code. They were alleged that they had abetted the daughter of the Pohap Singh (Complainant), for the commission of suicide. Complainant and the appellant are the cousins of each other, Manoj Kumar and Daulat Ram are the sons of Ude Singh. Smt. Krishna is the mother of the deceased girl and another Jai Narain who is the cousin of the complainant and accused, both are witnesses in this case. All the parties lived in the same village, at the same time a complaint relating to Hurt case was also lodged by the mother of the deceased girl against Hem Karan alias Hemla and Ude Singh that was also pending.
- It was submitted by the prosecution that the accused persons, Hem Karan alias Hemla, Ude Singh Manoj and Daulat Ram, by using the embarrassing words like ‘wife’, ‘Chachi (aunt), and ‘Bohoria’ (younger brother’s wife), on the daily basis taunting the unmarried deceased daughter of the complainant. On 15.04.1996 it was further noted that when the wife of the complainant and the other witnesses after completing their evidence in Criminal case against all the accused and return to village, Hem Karan holds the daughter of complainant pushed her in the house and started her, abusing verbally and his family.
- On 05.05.1996 on sighting the daughter of the complainant, Ude Singh said “see my Bohoria is coming”, “she is our Chachi” said by Manoj and Daulat, “she is my wife” addressed her by the Hem Karan alias Hemla. The victim girl again informs this indecent act of all the accused and while crying she said that she had no right to live her life. The victim girl was pacified by the complainant and the brother, and advised her to ignore the taunts. The daughter of the complainant was found dead, hanging by her neck on the next day at around 9 a.m. in her room. The complainant was on duty at that time and his nephew informed him about the demise of his daughter, the wife of the complainant was the first to see her dead daughter. On the same day the FIR no. 93 was lodged by the complainant and the charge sheet was made under section 306/34 of IPC against the accused persons.
- The prosecution examined all witnesses to support its part that the accused persons were guilty of committing the offense of abetment to suicide. Statement of PW-1 Pohap Singh (father of the deceased girl), PW-2 Jai Narain (brother of the complainant), PW-11 Smt. Krishna (mother of the deceased girl). PW-1 Pohap Singh stated in his statement that his daughter was only 18 years old and the accused Hem Karan alias Hemla and others assaulted his daughter on a daily basis. PW-1 further stated that as he had not witnessed the incident but indecent act of the accused persons was informed by his wife and brothers. The land dispute between the complainant and the accused persons were also stated by the complainant in his statement.
- PW-2 specifically stated the incident of 05.05.1996. When the PW-1 and Ram Kumar and Virender were standing in the plot, they saw the embarrassing act of the accused. He stated that the daughter of the complainant come there to throw garbage, all the accused persons addressing her with the word wife, Bohoria, Chachi etc. PW-11 Krishna the mother of the deceased girl stated that along with the accused persons she notices of the wives of the accused persons indecent behaviour towards her daughter.
- From the defence side, the accused examined 11 witnesses and it was submitted that the daughter of the complainant was suffering from depression and the reason was that her engagement got broken. It was further submitted that on 04.05.1996, Manoj Kumar and Daulat Ram were not even in the village, they both had visited Jainabad and were falsely implicated in this case by the complainant. After hearing both the parties the Trial Court on date 20.11.1997, in its Judgement and order observed that the evidence presented by the prosecution, proved against all the accused. So, in its Judgement Trial court held all the accused persons of the offence under Section 306 read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code and awarded the four years rigorous punishment with fine of rupees 300/- to each of the accused.
- In further appeal by the accused in the High Court of Punjab and Haryana, the High Court observed that the deceased girl was harassed by the accused on several occasions, and there was a consistent attempt was made by the accused humiliating, hurting, and insulting the deceased girl. That’s why the High Court upheld the Judgment of the Trial Court but reduced the imprisonment for a period of two and half years, observing on the ground that the accused already faced 12 years of protracted trial.
- On 27.07.2009 all the accused filed a Special Leave Petition in the Supreme Court. The learned counsel for the appellant (accused) submitted that there was no cogent proof were presented by the defence side that the deceased girl committed suicide because of the appellant behaviour. As the deceased girl was suffering from depression due to being unable to pass out the 10th examination and broke down of the engagement this was the reason that the daughter of the complainant ended her life. Counsel of the appellant argued that the offence of the appellant came under the boundary of insulting the modesty of a woman, that why the appellant could only be held liable for the offence punishable under Section 509of IPC not under Section 306 of the IPC. Further counsel submitted that on the date of 05.05.1996, the appellant no. 2 was a minor, around 16 year of age according to the date of birth as 20.04.1980 and hence, the appellant no. 2 was treated as a juvenile.
- After hearing the parties, the Supreme Court came on at the view that the appellant no. 2 (accused no. 3) would be entitled to the benefits of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000 and the other proceedings against him will be terminated. The Supreme Court after concerning the certificate of Board of Secondary Education, Haryana with relation to the appellant no.2 said the date of birth was found the same. And there is no reason to hold any further enquiries on the matter of correctness on the date of birth of the appellant no. 2.
- The Court said that as according to the appellant on the date of incident appellant no. 2 was about 16 year of age; this plea was not placed before the trial court. Court after taking consideration of section 2(k), 2(I), 7A read with Section 20 of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000, can remain entitled to take the benefits of juveniles. The Court also said that the present case will not fall under the category of Section 509 of the IPC. After hearing both the parties and looking after the fact and circumstances of the case the appellants were liable under the Section 306 of the IPC. The Court observed that the reason the deceased ended her life was the continuous action and utterances of the accused. That’s why the accused are held guilty of the offence of abetment of suicide.
- The Court observed that the appellant said the deceased girl was suffering from depression due to failure in 10th examination and breaking off her engagement. But as the accused persons taunting her by addressing her by using the word wife it’s simply meaning that the accused were humiliating her in reference to her broken engagement. The Court further said that it is not merely the case of insulting a girl, it is a case of destroying the self-esteem of a village girl. The Court rejected the contention made by the appellant that they have never been intended, to abet the girl to commit suicide. In the end the Court allowed the appeal in respect to the appellant no. 2 and the order passed by the High Court regarding his conviction were set aside. But the Court dismissed the appeal of the other accused, and directed to sever out the remaining part of sentence which was awarded by the High Court.
- So, in this case the dispute regarding the applicability of the law was discussed. The Court after hearing the parties decided that the accused were guilty under Section 306 read with Section 34 of the IPC. Applicability of Section 509 would not be right here in this case.
- Along with this the applicability of Juvenile Justice Act, 2000 was also discussed in this case. The Court discussed both the language of the sections of the IPC and after a long discussion the court passed the judgment.