Naming A Man In Suicide Note Not Enough To Charge Him With Abetment, Rules Punjab And Haryana High Court

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Case Name: A.R Madhav Rao and others v. The State of Haryana and another

Coram: Justice P.B BAJANTHRI

Punjab and Haryana High court interpreted the law related to the suicide notes in its recent judgment. The decision gives some relief to persons who are wrongly named in a suicide note. Punjab and Haryana High Court ruled that a person named in a suicide note does not automatically become charged just because he has been named in the suicide note.

Facts Of The Case

Iqbal Asif Khan committed suicide on 23.03.2011 who was working as a Manager, taxation with a company in Gurgaon. In his suicide note, he named 6 people as the persons who forced him to take this extreme step. All 6 people are petitioners in the instant case. Out of the 6 persons, 4 are advocates and remaining two are managers taxation in the same company as that of the deceased. Deceased was working with the company for two decades and was well versed with taxation issues of the company. A dispute related to taxes had cropped up between the company and tax authorities. To settle the dispute deceased had approached the petitioners, who had advised the deceased to file a writ petition in the Allahabad High Court. Suicide note claims that petitioners were responsible for certain alleged misdeeds and the writ petition filed mentions the same to have been committed by the deceased in the drafting of the writ petition.

The Decision of the Case and Arguments Advanced

Lawyers for the petitioner argued that writ petition in question had been decided in favour of the company and the suicide note is vague as it does not give a detailed reason as to how each petitioner is responsible in forcing the deceased to take this extreme step. Counsel for petitioners, further submitted that investigating agency till date has been unable to present rigid evidence before court linking suicide of the deceased with that of the petitioners. Opposing the contentions of the petitioner advocate for the state argued that deceased had written the name of all the six petitioners in his own handwriting and it was the petitioners who had advised him to file the writ petition. So, there was sufficient evidence to lodge criminal proceedings against the petitioners.

Learned Single judge Justice P.B Bajanthri after listening to both the parties and examining the evidence advanced dismissed the case and held that merely naming a person in suicide note does not entitle the police to charge him for abetment to suicide under section 306 of the Indian Penal Code and police failed to find any wrongdoing of the petitioners. The High Court, further said that “The offence of abetment requires ‘men’s rea’ (a guilty mind) …… There must be intentional aiding or goading the commission of suicide by another. Otherwise, even a casual remark or something said in everyday conversation will be wrongly construed as abetment.”

Moreover, The Court also added that “For the wrong decision was taken by a coward, fool, idiot, a man of weak mentality, a man of frail mentality, another person cannot be blamed as having abetted his committing suicide.”

Learning of the Case

From this case, we learn that naming a person in a suicide note is not enough to charge him with abetment under section 306 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.

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