Remarks Made In Anger Not Abetment of Suicide : Punjab & Haryana HC Acquits Wife in Husband’s Suicide Case

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The court noted “Utterances made in a moment of anger or emotion cannot be deemed instigation, It is also important to acknowledge that individuals vary in their sensitivity and temperament"

The Punjab and Haryana High Court recently ruled that remarks made in moment of anger or out of emotion are not sufficient to constitute the offence of abetment of suicide.

The court, presided over by Justice Manjari Nehru Kaul, made the observation, while addressing an appeal challenging an order by the Additional Sessions Judge that convicted the appellant under Section 306 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and subsequently passing an order of acquittal in favour of a wife, accused for the instigation of suicide by her husband.

The court noted “Utterances made in a moment of anger or emotion cannot be deemed instigation. It is also important to acknowledge that individuals vary in their sensitivity and temperament. It is not solely the feelings of the deceased that would matter, but most importantly, the intention behind the act of the accused as to whether he actually intended to drive the deceased to suicide would also have to be discerned.”

The case arose after Jai Singh Bhardwaj lodged an FIR when his son, Dilbagh, was found dead near railway tracks. Before his death, Dilbagh informed his father about a dispute with his wife, Kavita, who had left their home. Despite repeated attempts to contact her, Kavita remained unreachable except for one instance when she threatened to falsely implicate him in a dowry case using her police connections.

Reconciliation efforts by Dilbagh’s relatives were met with resistance from Kavita, who threatened to use her police contacts against them. Dilbagh left suicide notes blaming Kavita for his death, leading to her being charged under Section 306 of the IPC.

The court clarified that to prove culpability under Section 306 of the IPC, it must be shown that the accused deliberately instigated the deceased to such an extent that the latter felt compelled to take his own life. “A critical ingredient under Section 306 of the IPC necessitates an overt and purposeful act on the part of the accused, transcending mere passive incitement, and instead constituting a direct and forceful inducement towards the act of suicide by the deceased,” the court noted.

Moreover, the court found no merit in the testimony of the complainant, who claimed to have seen the accused hastily leaving his deceased son's house on the day of the suicide, clutching a paper and a mobile phone, significantly undermines the prosecution's case. This testimony, according to the court, suggested an embellished narrative, as the complainant was aware that the accused had not been living with the deceased and had left her matrimonial home 10 days prior to the suicide.

The court said, “the instigation to commit suicide should be in close proximity to the alleged harassment, with the immediate trigger occurring shortly before the suicide.”

It was further highlighted by the court that while the deceased left behind undated suicide notes detailing the harassment by the accused, all instances referred to occurred before the accused left her matrimonial home. The notes mentioned humiliation and threats of false implication in cases, but these incidents could not be conclusively deemed immediate triggers for the suicide, as the suicide notes did not indicate any further humiliation or untoward incidents after the last meeting between the accused and the deceased on May 4, 2013.

The court found the possibility of the deceased being highly sensitive and choosing to commit suicide due to marital discord to be plausible, emphasising that “The case of the prosecution thus, does not meet the criteria for abetment as defined under Section 107 of the IPC,” which defines abetment.

Conclusively, the appeal filed by the accused wife was allowed and the judgment of conviction and order of sentence were set aside. “the accused is acquitted of the offence charged with,” the court held.


Cause Title: Kavita v State of Haryana [CRA-S-4648-SB-2016]