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Bombay HC: Committing Suicide Requires Set of Skill or Person Supporting the Same to Maintain Force Till Put to Death

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The appellant filed a criminal appeal against the order and judgment of 2nd Additional Session Judge, Thane dated 24.08.2015 for the conviction of an offence punishable under Section 302 r/w 34 of IPC sentencing him to life imprisonment.

Brief Facts

The accused herein named as Machhindra married Reshma on 4th March, 2009. In 2010, they were blessed with a girl, Tanishka at Ammi Hospital, Bhiwandi. The family of the accused was engaged in the trade of fishing and his mother along with Reshma and others sold the fish in the local market at Mankoli, Bhiwandi.

The brother of Reshma received the information from his friend, Sachin Mali about the accidental falling of her from the staircase which caused a head injury and such information was also confirmed by her mother-in-law Shobha. It was revealed that she was declared dead on admission to the hospital. Her parents and relatives of the deceased noticed that there was no head injury sustained by her. Thereafter, they filed FIR on 7 September 2012 at 4 am for such doubtful facts given by accused persons at Narpoli Police Station, Bhiwandi under section 302, 498A r/w 34 of Indian Penal Code.

The P.W.1, brother of the deceased alleged that she has been a scapegoat of harassment and ill-treatment by all accused persons and relatives in the house on the verge of failure to satisfy the demands of both accused. On such refusal by the deceased to request money from her parents combined with the low financial conditions of her family, she has been abused and assaulted till she died. Her brother and Kalpesh Patil went to her house to give Rs.10,000 provided that she should not be subjected to harassment forth while.

Submissions of the Petitioner

The counsel submits that the case revolves around the circumstantial evidence and most importantly the accused has been acquitted for the offense punishable under Section 498A r/w 34 of IPC for insufficient evidence. It emphasized upon the statements of witnesses crucial to his case, the economic condition of the accused family was sufficiently strong enough as the deceased along with her mother in law used to earn Rs.4000-5000 in a day, thereafter there was no specifically stated amount demanded by the accused. There was also no evidence on record that the deceased family paid Rs.10,000 and hospital bill. The mother of the deceased also stated that their relationship was smooth going. 

Moreover, the accused told witnesses and villagers that she has committed suicide by hanging in the bedroom. Accordingly, the accused has discharged his onus under Section 106 of the Indian Evidence Act by such statement.

The counsel contends that the financial condition of the accused was strong enough to earn Rs.70,000 to 80,000 per month and therefore there was no need to demand money from the deceased’s family and she was never ill-treated by the accused persons. Therefore, counsel pleads acquittal through entailing benefit of the doubt. 

Submissions of the Respondent

The respondent counsel examined the prosecution witness for corroborating its allegation upon accused no.1 and 2. P.W.1 denied the fact stated by the accused that she had committed suicide by hanging herself in the bedroom alongside P.W.1, Sarpanch and relative of deceased threatened accused of indulging them in such serious allegation. 

The P.W.2 stated that marks of strangulation on the neck were seen on the deceased body, nail mark on wrist and fist blow on the chest. On detailed investigation, it was disclosed that the saree was not disarrayed but the border of the saree was pinned properly.

The P.W.8, a doctor conducted an autopsy on the dead body of deceased Reshma which found that two injuries were grievous in nature which were caused by throttling by hand or cloth while others were struggle marks. She concluded that the cause of death was mainly “asphyxia due to compression of the neck”.

The A.D Report stated that the accused told P.W.1 that she had fallen from the staircase due to which head injury was sustained. The report also states dark marks around her leg and injury marks on the ribs coupled with abrasions to her wrists but there was no injury to her head. The accused also suggested P.W.1 not to register any FIR shows doubtful and suspicious behavior of both accused persons.

The inconsistency between the statement of both the accused caused contradiction in their own testimony as evidence that first accused stated cause of death was falling from the staircase, additionally there was no object which could cause strangulation by entangling of saree and on other hand, the second accused stated cause of death was death by suicide by hanging in the bedroom.  Neither the article of suicide nor anything was seized from her bedroom. There is also no cloth hanging in the ceiling fan of the bedroom.

Observations of the Court

The court observed that harassment and ill-treatment were negated by the correct contention put on respondent counsel that acquittal of an accused person under section 498A r/w 34 established that there was no motive for the accused to cause homicidal death of the deceased. Moreover, the motive is a relevant factor to convict an accused but instead a mere provocation to commit an act done but the act of the accused can be proved by direct or circumstantial evidence. The present case is circumstantial evidence based on collected evidence with witness statements.

The court took the reference of the case Godabarish Mishra v. Kuntala Mishra and Anr. reported in (1996) 11 SCC 264, it was established that for committing suicide by self-strangulation, it required the prerequisite skills to maintain force till put to death. Moreover, except for the accused person, no other person has the capacity and opportunity to cause the death of the deceased. Further, the statement of accused no.2 of committing suicide by hanging availed no eye witness, the material of hanging, time of the incident and who brought her down from the ceiling, or whether she is breathing when taken to hospital.

The apex court held in the case of Trimukh Maruti Kirkan v. State of Maharashtra reported in (2006) 10 SCC 681, in this case, it was alleged that deceased was last seen with her husband, accused before commission of murder but it was established that if the accused does not explains the reasons of injury or statements of accused are false representation, failing to which would lead to the conviction of accused. 

Verdict of the Court

The court decided that the false explanation given by accused no.1 which caused the disappearance of evidence deserves to be punished under section 201 of IPC by entailing cause of death to falling from the staircase. The accusation upon accused no.2 is proven beyond reasonable doubt provided hereunder liable for offense under section 302 of IPC.

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