Delhi HC Drops Charges Against Woman Who Allegedly Abetted Her Estranged Husband’s Suicide

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Brief Facts of the Case

The petitioner filed this revision petition challenging the charges framed against her under Section 306 of IPC. Following the marriage of petitioner and the deceased, matrimonial disputes arose. The petitioner left the deceased and started living at her parent’s house. The petitioner allegedly took 15 lakhs worth of gold and 3 lakh worth of cash with her. Subsequently, the deceased filed a complaint with police and also filed a petition for restitution of conjugal rights under the Hindu Marriage Act. However, the petitioner refrained from returning to her husband’s company.

It is alleged that the petitioner made telephonic death threats to the deceased. Thereafter, the deceased committed suicide, leaving behind a suicide note. The note held the petitioner responsible for his death. The Police lodged an FIR upon a complaint filed by the deceased’s brother under Section 200 of the Cr.P.C. Consequently, the police filed a charge sheet against the petitioner under Sec.306 (IPC). 

The petitioner has filed the present Revision Petition against these charges. 

Arguments by the Parties

The petitioner argued that the Trial Court had passed the impugned order without application of mind. To this end, the petitioner submitted that the Court passed the order in a mechanical manner. The learned counsel for the petitioner argued that the allegations made and the suicide had no close nexus. In addition to this, the petitioner argued that the allegations of taking jewellery and cash were false. These objects taken were stridhan and belonged to the petitioner herself. 

Additionally, the petitioner argued that the Court must assess all documents on record while framing the charges. While doing so, it must disclose the ingredients constituting the offence. The petitioner further contended that to invoke Sec.306 (IPC), ingredients of Sec.107 (IPC) need to be satisfied. The counsel contended that the Court must establish that the petitioner instigated the deceased, causing him to take his life. 

The respondent submitted that the scope of interference under Sec.397 (Cr.P.C). is limited. To frame charges, the Court has to only form a prima facie view and establish strong suspicion. 

References Made by the Court

The Court considered the opinion expressed in State of Orissa v. Debendra Nath Padhi (2005) 1 SCC 568. To frame charges, the Trial Court has to consider whether there are enough grounds to proceed against the accused. To determine the same, the court needs to evaluate the evidence on record. A plain reading of Sec.227 read with Sec.209 of Cr.P.C states that the accused has no right to file any material at the stage of framing of charges. This was decided in  State Anti-Corruption Bureau v. P. Suryaprakasam 1999 SCC (Cri) 373.

Moreover, the Court considered the decision of the Apex Court in Supdt. and Remembrances of Legal Affairs, W.B. v. Anil Kumar Bhunja, (1979) 4 SCC 274. The three-Judge Bench held that:

“the Magistrate at the stage of framing charges had to see whether the facts alleged and sought to be proved by the prosecution prima facie disclose the commission of offence on general consideration of the materials placed before him by the investigating police officer.

Court’s Observations

The Court went on to make certain observations about its revisional jurisdiction. While exercising revisional jurisdiction, the Court cannot sit as a Court of Appeal. It cannot examine the merits of the case. It can only interfere when there is illegality or material irregularity in the order passed by the lower court. The Court then determined the ingredient (instigation) to constitute an offence under Sec.306 IPC.

The Court reiterated the position of law as settled in Sanju v. State of M.P. (2002) 5 SCC 371. Words stated in anger, without intending the consequences, cannot be termed as instigation. The Court held that the presence of mens rea is the necessary concomitant of instigation. 

In the present case, the Court examined the suicide note, in light of the above precedents. The Court found that the suicide note written by the deceased did not qualify as instigation. The suicide note disclosed the hypersensitive nature of the deceased. Moreover, the parties had been living separately for three months.  In this regard, the Delhi High Court held as follows:

“It is trite law that at the stage of framing of charge, the Court is not to delve deeply with the evidence brought forth, but the same does not mean that the Court should ignore gaping holes apparent on the face of the record, in the case of the prosecution.” 

Court’s Decision

The Court allowed the present petition. It stated that the Trial Court came to an adverse finding with regards to the petitioner’s mens rea. Additionally, it held that the Trial Court did not appreciate the facts of the case in the right perspective. 


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