Abetment of Suicide

Suicide – Meaning of

The word “suicide” in itself is nowhere defined in the Penal Code, however, its meaning and import is well known and requires no explanation. “Sui” means “self” and “cide” means “killing”, thus implying an act of self-killing. In short, a person committing suicide must commit it by himself, irrespective of the means employed by him in achieving his object of killing himself. M. Mohan v. State, (2011) 3 SCC 626

 

In re DAVIS, DECD., [1968] 1 Q.B. 72, it was held thus:

Suicide is not to be presumed. It must be affirmatively proved to justify the finding. Suicide requires an intention. Every act of self-destruction is, in common language “described by the word ‘suicide,’ provided it be the intentional act of a party knowing the probable consequence of what he is about”: Rolfe B. in Clift v. Schwabe, (1846) 3 C.B. 437

 

Abetment of suicide

Section 306 and107 of the Indian Penal Code read 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.”

 

“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 wilful misrepresentation, or by wilful concealment of a material fact which he 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 authorised by a warrant from a Court of Justice to apprehend Z. B, knowing that fact and also that C is not Z, wilfully 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 thereby facilitates the commission thereof, is said to aid the doing of that act.”

 

In our country, while suicide itself is not an offence considering that the successful offender is beyond the reach of law, attempt to suicide is an offence under Section 309 IPC.

 

 

Ingredients

In order to bring out an offence under Section 306 IPC specific abetment as contemplated by Section 107 IPC on the part of the accused with an intention to bring about the suicide of the person concerned as a result of that abetment is required. The intention of the accused to aid or to instigate or to abet the deceased to commit suicide is a must for this particular offence under Section 306 IPC. Madan Mohan Singh v. State of Gujarat, (2010) 8 SCC 628

 

As per the section, a person can be said to have abetted in doing a thing, if he, firstly, 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 to Section 107 states that any wilful misrepresentation or wilful concealment of material fact which he is bound to disclose, may also come within the contours of “abetment”. It is manifest that under all the three situations, direct involvement of the person or persons concerned in the commission of offence of suicide is essential to bring home the offence under Section 306 IPC. Chitresh Kumar Chopra v. State (Government of NCT of Delhi), (2009) 16 SCC 605

 

The Apex Court in Ramesh Kumar, (2001) 9 SCC 618 has examined different shades of the meaning of “instigation”. Para 20 thereof reads as under:

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 spelt 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 an 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.”

 

Grounds for Conviction

 

Abetment involves a mental 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, conviction cannot be sustained. The intention of the legislature and the ratio of the cases decided by the Apex Court is clear that in order to convict a person under Section 306 IPC there has to be a clear mens rea to commit the offence. It also requires an active act or direct act which led the deceased to commit suicide seeing no option and that act must have been intended to push the deceased into such a position that he committed suicide. S.S. Chheena v. Vijay Kumar Mahajan, (2010) 12 SCC 190

 

 

 

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