In the case of Raj Shekhar Paliwal & Anr. vs. State of Chhattisgarh & Anr. on 20th March 2020, Samiksha Shastri, a 17-year-old student studying in Class 11 at D.A.V. School Nandini Mines, Durg, committed suicide on 20.02.2018. Upon further investigation at the morgue, a suicide note had been seized by the police in which she named the respondents (Teachers- Raj and Meena Paliwal) as responsible for her suicide due to their incessant scolding. The learned trial court had framed charges against the applicants for the commission of an offence under Section 306 r/w Section 34 of I.P.C, for abetment of suicide.
Arguments Of The Petitioners
The petitioners’ counsel (Mr Sunil Otwani) submitted that there is no prima-facie evidence present against the applicants for charges under Section 306 of I.P.C. The suicide note left by the deceased states that the applicants had been over-strict, but the applicants are teachers by profession, therefore, it is their duty to keep students in the discipline and they had no intention other than that of good faith.
The deceased was herself depressed and therefore, she has committed suicide., and not because of the teachers. The suicide letter also does not mention that applicant had in any manner abetted her to commit suicide.
Similarly, the statement of Karamvir Shastri, the father of the deceased (Respondent No. 2) shows that his daughter was being scolded by the applicants in teaching hours and then she was insulted publicly. Although there is no description of the insult, he has mentioned that his daughter did not appear in the physical training practical examination and on her subsequent appearance she was scolded by her teacher (Petitioner No.2) because of which the deceased had become very upset.
The advocate deduced that the deceased was not a disciplined girl because of which she was reprimanded by the applicants. The counsel contended that even though the applicants were more strict than usual, their activities cannot be regarded as an act of abetment. There was no mens-rea on the part of the applicants.
The advocate has referred to the judgment of Bombay High Court with similar facts in the case of Smt. Jayashree vs. State of Maharashtra & Anr. 2017 SCC Bom 342. In that case, the deceased was a student against whom there was a complaint that she had stolen a mobile phone and the same was told to her by her teacher, subsequent to which, she hanged herself. The High Court held that this act of the teacher was not an abetment.
He also referred to another case, Ankita Goyal vs. The State of Madhya Pradesh in Cr. R. No.1172 of 2016. Court held that the accused, who was a teacher, used to threaten and demand money from the deceased because of which she committed suicide. It was held that the act of the accused person was not an act of abetment.
He also submitted that in the case of Sanju Sanjay Singh Sengar vs. State of Madhya Pradesh (2002) 5 SCC 371, the facts were that a quarrel took place between the accused and the deceased person in which the accused told the deceased to go and die. Subsequently, the deceased was found dead. The Supreme Court has held that the words ‘go and die’ itself do not constitute the ingredients of instigation and also held that the suicide note holding the accused responsible was not sufficient to hold the charge against the accused person.
In the present case, the applicants had the authority to keep the students under discipline and they were simply exercising that authority without any intention of causing harm to the deceased. The petitioners’ lawyer contended that the applicants had not created any circumstance that the deceased could not come out of.
Arguments Of The Respondents
Mr. Avinash K. Mishra, lawyer for Respondent No.1 (State) submitted that the chain of events were complete, which showed that the deceased was continuously harassed and tortured by the applicants for various reasons because of which she felt insulted.
The witnesses- the parents of deceased had clearly stated that the applicants were the persons who were responsible for the suicidal death of the deceased. The deceased was victimized by these applicants, which has resulted in the incident.
This material present is sufficient to hold that there is a prima-facie case against the applicants. Hence, there is no substance in this revision petition, which may be dismissed.
Respondent No. 2’s counsel (Karamvir Shastri, father of deceased) adopted arguments advanced and submitted that the applicants have continuously harassed the deceased and created such atmosphere because of which she was left with no option but to commit suicide. The evidence present in the case very clearly demonstrates how the applicants had acted with the deceased.
It was also submitted that in the case of Praveen Pradhan Vs. State of Uttaranchal and Anr. (2012) 9 SCC 734, the Supreme Court has held that to conclude that there had been instigation to commit suicide, the facts of each case has to be relied open and there is no straight jacket formula laid down. In this particular case, the Supreme Court has held that according to the facts present, the deceased was subjected to persistent harassment which created a circumstance for the deceased from which she could not come out of, as a result of which, she committed suicide, which is similar to the case at hand.
The advocate also referred to a Supreme Court precedent in Chitresh Kumar Chopra Vs. State (Government of N.C.T. Delhi) 2009 16 SCC 605. Therefore, it was submitted that this is not a case of discharge.
On examining the witness statements under Section 161 of Cr.P.C., it is found that there had been occasions and reasons for which the deceased was taken to task by the applicants, it does not appear that the applicants had acted on any false pretext, there had been reasons for their acting or reacting with respect to the activity or any failure on the part of the deceased which is mentioned in the statements of the witnesses- Karambir and Sukanti Shashtri.
In the case of Gangula Mohan Reddy vs. State of Andhra Pradesh (2010) 1 SCC 750, it has been held that abetment involves a process of instigating a person or intentionally aiding a person in doing of a thing without a positive act on the part of the accused to instigate or aid in committing suicide. To convict for the offence under Section 306 of I.P.C., there has to be a clear mens-rea to commit the offence.
In case of Chitresh Kumar Chopra, it defined in paragraph 17, 18 and 19 defined “urge” and “investigation”. Ramesh Kumar’s case also stated what conditions are to be fulfilled to constitute abetment of suicide by a person:
(i) the accused kept on irritating or annoying the deceased by words, deeds or wilful omission or conduct which may even be a wilful silence until the deceased reacted or pushed or forced the deceased by his deeds, words or wilful omission or conduct to make the deceased move forward more quickly in a forward direction;
(ii) that the accused had the intention to provoke, urge or encourage the deceased to commit suicide while acting in the manner noted above.
The other discrepancies that were present in the evidence of this case are that the date written on the suicide note is 10.02.2018 and the suicide has been committed by the deceased on 20.02.2018. The acts alleged against the applicants were of previous dates and the last date mentioned was 16.01.2018, which was about one month prior to the date of the incident.
Therefore, there appears to be difficulty in connecting all the incidents that have taken place between the applicants and the deceased with the incident of commission of suicide. According to Justice Rajendra Chandra Singh Samant, the framing of charge against these applicants under Section 306 r/w Section 34 of I.P.C. is “erroneous”, so the applicants/ petitioners are not liable for abetment of suicide.
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