In section 306 of the Indian Penal Court, abetment of suicide is if any person commits suicide, whoever abets the commission of such suicide, shall be punishable with imprisonment of either description of a term which may extend to 10 years, and shall also be liable to fine.
In other words, someone who abets others to commit suicide either by words or actions or by using domestic violence, but must have some objective, motive, or benefit behind it. In order to convict the person under section 306 of the code, there must be the presence of mens rea to commit the offence of the abetment of suicide. If there is no alternative left with the deceased or abettor made circumstances that the deceased left with no other option than to suicide.
Classification of offence
- Punishment for such type of offence is imprisonment for 10 years and fine.
- It’s a Cognizable offence- police do not need a warrant from the court to arrest.
- It’s a non-bailable offence which means bail is granted at the discretion of the court, not as a right.
- Triable by a court of session
- It’s a non-compoundable offence – the case can not be withdrawn by the complainant party even if both parties have come to a settlement.
What is the meaning of suicide?
“Sui” means self and “cide” means killing, thus implying an act of self-killing. In short, the person committing the suicide must commit it by himself, and not be murdered by any other individual.
The mental progression of instigating a person or aiding them intentionally to do an act is known as abetment. There must be a clear intention to commit the offence of abetment for charging a person under Section 306 of IPC. There must also be a direct act, which induced the deceased person to commit suicide.
In M. Mohan v. State, the Supreme Court held that there should be a close link between the accused person’s act and the deceased person’s decision to commit suicide. In the absence of a link, it will be hard to establish that the accused person induced the deceased person to commit suicide. Therefore, abetment by a person happens when the accused provokes or creates such circumstances that the deceased had no other alternative but to commit suicide.
Application of Section 306
The charge of abetment of suicide is widely used in the cases of dowry demand related suicides or suicides as a result of domestic violence or cruelty, intentionally starving a person to death, maltreating, bigamy, domestic violence due to excessive drinking habits of husband, etc.
These are not the exclusive reasons for the commission of suicide due to instigation but are inclusive and there are many more such reasons cause of which this section can be instituted.
The law says mere saying something in the heat of the moment or during anger will not give rise to section 306 because of the absence of mens rea, no suit can be constituted if there is a reasonable time between the instigation and committing of suicide. In the case where the lack of evidence cannot confirms if the case is an accident or a suicide, the accused with enjoying the benefit of the doubt in such a situation.
- Before the offence under section 306 can be proved, the presence of mens rea is of utmost importance
To hold a person liable for abetment to commit suicide, there should be a clear mens rea on his/her part to instigate another to commit suicide.
In Naresh Morotrao Vs Union of India, the validity of Section 306 was observed and the court held that section 306 constitutes an offence that is independent in character entirely. It is structured on the principle of public policy that no individual should involve himself in, instigate, or aid the commission of a crime. It is in consonance with Articles 14 and 21 of the Indian Constitution and thus inviolative.
Burden of Proof
In order to constitute proceedings within the purview of abetment of suicide, the plaintiff/ prosecution will have to focus majorly on the series of events and the shreds of evidence, the series of events is to form a clear nexus between the Abetment to commit suicide or instigation and the actual suicide commission and evidence to support the arguments regarding the series of events.
Cases related to abetment of suicide
- In Sanjay Singh v. State of Madhya Pradesh, the court said mere saying ‘go and die’ during a quarrel between a husband and a wife does not constitute mens rea and is considered to be said out of anger or in the heat of a moment and hence does not fulfill the conditions of abetment of suicide.
- In the case of Randhir Singh v. State of Punjab, the Supreme Court opined that “Abetment involves a mental process of instigating or intentionally helping any person in the commission of an offence with active participation in influencing the victim.”
- Chitresh Kumar Chopra v State( Govt. of NCT of Delhi): In this case, the Court dealt with the meaning of the term “instigation” and “goading”. The Court gave its opinion that the mala fide intention to provoke, incite or encourage the commission of an act by a person is mandatory. Each person’s suicidality pattern is different from others thus, it is not possible to lay down a straight-jacket formula while dealing with such cases. Each case must be decided on the basis of its own facts and circumstances. The intention of the Legislature and the ratio of the case decided by the Court gave a clear indication that in order to convict a person under Section 306 IPC, mens rea is an indispensable ingredient. It also requires the act to play an active part in pushing the deceased into such a position that he sees no option other than suicide.
- Manikandan v State: This has proved to be a binding judgment in the history of landmark judgments. The Madras High Court held that merely being named in a Suicide Note does not invoke Section 306 IPC. The note’s contents need proper scrutinization to determine whether the accused falls within the ambit of abetment as mentioned under section 306. The Court further declared that “it is not the wish and willingness nor the desire of the victim to die, it must be the wish of the accused, it is the intention on the part of the accused that the victim should die that matters much. There must be a positive act on the part of the accused.
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