The Hon’ble Delhi High Court, recently while exercising its power discharge the accused and quashed the criminal proceedings against the lady who was accused for abetting the suicide of her husband. The judgment has been delivered by Hon’ble Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva of Delhi High Court in matter of Shikha Gupta v State (GNCT) of Delhi on 8th January, 2019.
As per the facts of the case, the deceased (husband) and accused(wife) were married as per Hindu rights and ceremonies and a female baby has been born in from the wedlock. Subsequently, disputes arose between the husband and wife; thereby the wife left her matrimonial home with her child on 20.05.2015. The wife lodged a complaint against the husband and her in-laws on 14.07.2015 before the Crime Against Women, Cell –Gurgaon. On 31.07.2015, during one of the hearing before Women cell, it is alleged by the prosecution that the accused-wife slapped her husband in front of the family members. It is further alleged by the prosecution that soon after the said incident of slapping i.e. on 02.08.2015, the husband attempted to commit suicide and died on 03.08.2015, an alleged suicide note was also found besides the bed of the petitioner. Thereafter, an FIR was lodged against the accused-wife under Section 306/34 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC for short). The prosecution alleged before the Trial Court that it is on record that accused-wife has slapped the deceased-husband in front of family members, which made the deceased-husband upset to so much extent that he undertook such a drastic step,the father of the deceased also affirmed the same.
Going by the version of the prosecution and deceased’s father, the Trial court affirmed the proximity of committing suicide with the alleged act of the accused-wife and vide order dated 15.03.2017 held that prima facie material exists against the accused –wife for framing of charge under Section 306 of IPC. The accused-wife challenged the said order of the Trial Court before the Delhi High Court through criminal revision application and prayed for the quashing of the FIR against her.
The counsel of the accused-wife submitted that the Trial Court has erred in not appreciating that there is no material to suggest that the petitioner instigated the deceased to commit suicide or in any manner aided or abetted the commission of suicide. As per Section 306 of IPC, whoever abets commission of suicide is held liable for abetment of suicide.
Section 306 IPC reads as under:-
“306. Abetment of suicide.- If any person commits suicide, whoever abets the commission of such suicide, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.”
Section 107 IPC defines abetment as under:-
107. Abetment of a thing – A person abets the doing of a thing, who-
(First) – Instigates any person to do that thing; or
(Secondly) – Engages with one or more other person or persons in any conspiracy for the doing of that thing,if an act or illegal omission takes place in pursuance of that conspiracy, and in order to the doing of that thing; or
(Thirdly) – Intentionally aids, by any act or illegal omission, the doing of that thing.
Explanation 1.- A person who,by willful misrepresentation, or by willful concealment of a material fact which is bound to disclose, voluntarily causes or procures, or attempts to cause or procure, a thing to be done, is said to instigate the doing of that thing.
Illustration A, a public officer, is authorized by a warrant from a Court of Justice to apprehend Z. B,knowing that fact and also that C is not Z, willfully represents to A that C is Z, and thereby intentionally causes A to apprehend C. Here B abets by instigation the apprehension of C.
Explanation 2 –Whoever, either prior to or at the time of the commission of an act, does anything in order to facilitate the commission of that act, and there by facilitate the commission thereof, is said to aid the doing of that act.”
In support of his submission, he placed his reliance on Ramesh Kumar vs. State of Chhattisgarh: (2001) 9 SCC 618, wherein, the Supreme Court laid down as to what conduct would amount to incitement or instigation:-
“20. Instigation is to goad, urge forward, provoke, incite or encourage to do “an act”. To satisfy the requirement of instigation though it is not necessary that actual words must be used to that effect or what constitutes instigation must necessarily and specifically be suggestive of the consequence. Yet a reasonable certainty to incite the consequence must be capable of being slept out. The present one is not a case where the accused had by his acts or omission or by a continued course of conduct created such circumstances that the deceased was left with no other option except to commit suicide in which case instigation may have been inferred. A word uttered in the fit of anger or emotion without intending the consequences to actually follow cannot be said to be instigation.”
Apart from the above, he also quoted other judgments like of W.B. v. Orilal Jaiswal [(1994) 1 SCC 73 : 1994 SCC (Cri) 107; Pawan Kumar vs.State of H.P.: (2017) 7 SCC 780 .The Hon’ble High Court heard both the parties at length and also considered the judgments placed by them.
After analysing the facts of the case and the law, the Hon’ble Court stated that in the present case apart from the allegation of slapping the deceased 3 days before his death no other act of the accused-wife is alleged which can say that she has instigated, conspired or aided in commission of suicide by the deceased.
The Hon’ble Court further stated, “Even if one were to consider the incident of alleged slapping as instigation then one has to keep in mind that the alleged conduct should be such as to drive any normal prudent person into committing suicide. Mere act of slapping the husband in presence of others would not under normal circumstances instigate a husband to commit suicide.”
Moreover, the alleged suicide note relied on by the prosecution does not refer to any incident of slapping.
Thereafter, the Hon’ble Court stated, “For a charge to be framed not only suspicion but grave suspicion of the accused having committed the offence is necessary. The facts and allegations do not show that there is any instigation or abetment on the part of the petitioner which could have instigated the deceased to commit suicide. Clearly,investigation has not revealed any conduct on the part of the petitioner which would raise grave suspicion of the petitioner having committed the offence under Section 306 IPC of abetment to suicide.”
Accordingly, the Hon’ble Court held that the Trial Court has clearly erred in holding that prima facie material exists against the accused for framing of charge under Section 306 IPC and there is absolutely no ground to proceed against the accused-wife.
In view of the above, it was decided that the impugned order of Trial Court on charge dated 15.03.2017 and the charge framed on 30.03.2017 are set aside. The petitioner (accused-wife) is discharge of the offence under Section 306 IPC.
-By Advocate Prakshi Agrawal
* Ms Shikha Gupta vs State (Gnct Of Delhi) on 8 January, 2019