The Supreme Court quashed criminal proceedings against a girl accused of abetting suicide of a man by allegedly refusing to marry him.

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The Supreme Court quashed criminal proceedings against a girl accused of abetting suicide of a man by allegedly refusing to marry him.

The bench of Justices R. Subhash Reddy and Hrishikesh Roy reiterated that Section 306 of the Indian Penal Code will not be attracted if there was no positive act on the part of the accused to instigate or aid in committing suicide. The court said that it would be travesty of justice to compel the accused to face a criminal trial without any credible material whatsoever.

It requires an active act or direct act which led the deceased to commit suicide, seeing no option and that act must have been intended to push the deceased into such a position that he committed suicide, the bench added.

The case against the accused was that, on the day of incident, the deceased came to her house and started shouting that if she did not marry him, he would consume poison. Within no time thereafter he consumed poison from a small bottle which he was holding in his hand and fell unconscious and thereafter died in the hospital. After investigation in this matter, final report was filed against the accused for the offence under Section 306 IPC and Section 3(2)(v) of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. Thereafter, the accused approached the High Court by filing a petition under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure with a prayer to quash the criminal proceedings against her. The High Court dismissed the petition.

Before the Apex Court, in appeal, it was contended that except that the accused was harassed by the deceased by following her and proposing marriage with him there is absolutely no basis to allege that the appellant has abetted the suicide of the deceased. On the other hand, the state contended that the deceased was maintaining relation with her and as she refused to marry the deceased, he committed suicide by consuming poison

The court noticed that, except the self­-serving statements of the complainant and other witnesses stating that deceased was in love with the accused, there is no other material to show that she was maintaining any relation with the deceased. Merely because he consumed poison in front of the house of the accused, that itself will not indicate any relation with the deceased, the court added. The bench further observed:

‘Abetment’ involves mental process of instigating a person or intentionally aiding a person in doing of a thing. Without positive act on the part of the accused to instigate or aid in committing suicide, no one can be convicted for offence under Section 306, IPC. To proceed against any person for the offence under Section 306 IPC it requires an active act or direct act which led the deceased to commit suicide, seeing no option and that act must have been intended to push the deceased into such a position that he committed suicide. There is nothing on record to show that appellant was maintaining relation with the deceased and further there is absolutely no material to allege that appellant abetted for suicide of the deceased within the meaning of Section 306, IPC. (Para 9)
The court said that even with regard to offence alleged under Section 3(2)(v) of the SC-ST Act, except vague and bald statement that the accused and other family members abused deceased by uttering casteist words, there is nothing on record to show to attract any of the ingredients for the alleged offence also.

Referring to Chitresh Kumar Chopra v. State (Govt. of NCT of Delhi), the court said that, to abet, there should be an intention to provoke, incite or encourage the doing of an act by the accused.

Besides, the judgment also observed that each person’s suicidability pattern is different from the other and each person has his own idea of self­esteem and self­respect. In the said judgment it is held that it is impossible to lay down any straightjacket formula dealing with the cases of suicide and each case has to be decided on the basis of its own facts and circumstances. (Para 9)
In absence of any material within the meaning of Section 107 of IPC, there is absolutely no basis to proceed against the accused for the alleged offences, the bench observed while quashing the criminal proceedings against the accused.

The court has also referred to the decision in Rajiv Thapar & Ors. v. Madan Lal Kapur (2013) 3 SCC 330 which laid down the following steps which should be followed by the High Court to determine the veracity of a prayer for quashing of proceedings in exercise of power under Section 482, Cr.PC.

Step one: whether the material relied upon by the accused is sound, reasonable, and indubitable i.e. the material is of sterling and impeccable quality?

Step two: whether the material relied upon by the accused would rule out the assertions contained in the charges levelled against the accused i.e. the material is sufficient to reject and overrule the factual assertions contained in the complaint i.e. the material is such as would persuade a reasonable person to dismiss and condemn the factual basis of the accusations as false?

Step three: whether the material relied upon by the accused has not been refuted by the prosecution/complainant; and/or the material is such that it cannot be justifiably refuted by the prosecution/complainant?

Step four: whether proceeding with the trial would result in an abuse of process of the court, and would not serve the ends of justice?

If the answer to all the steps is in the affirmative, the judicial conscience of the High Court should persuade it to quash such criminal proceedings in exercise of power vested in it under Section 482 CrPC. Such exercise of power, besides doing justice to the accused, would save precious court time, which would otherwise be wasted in holding such a trial (as well as proceedings arising therefrom) specially when it is clear that the same would not conclude in the conviction of the accused.

Citation: LL 2021 SC 467

Case name: Kanchan Sharma vs. State of Uttar Pradesh

Case no.| Date: CrA 1022 OF 2021 | 17 September 2021

Coram: Justices R. Subhash Reddy and Hrishikesh Roy

Counsel: Adv Sanchit Garga for appellant and Adv Aviral Saxena for State

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