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Suicide note is not enough to charge accused with criminal liability

IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT MADRAS

DATED : 31-07-2015
CORAM THE HON’BLE MR.JUSTICE P.DEVADASS
Crl.A.No.56 of 2012

V.Venkataraman .. Appellant/Accused
Vs.
State,
Represented by the Assistant Commissioner of Police, Ayanavaram Range, Chennai. (Crime No.398 of 2003) .. Respondent/Complainant

This Criminal Appeal is filed under Section 374 of Cr.P.C., to set aside the JUDGMENT passed in S.C.No.3 of 2007 on 12.1.2012 by the learned Sessions Judge, Mahila Court, Chennai.

For Appellant : Mr.V.Padmanabhan, Senior Counsel for Mr.B.Harikrishnan. For Respondent : Mr.P.Govindarajan, Additional Public Prosecutor.

JUDGMENT

The sole accused in the Sessions Case in S.C.No.3 of 2007 on the file of the learned Sessions Judge, Mahila Court, Chennai is the appellant.

2. He is alleged to have harassed his wife for dowry and also abetted her commission of suicide.

3. He was prosecuted in the said Court. Ultimately, the Trial Court, appreciating the evidence adduced, found him guilty under Sections 498-A and 306 IPC and sentenced him as stated below:

Conviction Sentence 498-A IPC One year R.I. and fined of Rs.5,000/- i/d 3 months S.I.

306 IPC Five years R.I. and fined of Rs.25,000/- i/d 3 months S.I.

4. The Trial Court directed both the sentences imposed on the accused were directed to run concurrently. The Trial Court also directed payment of Rs.25,000/- as compensation, out of the total fine of Rs.30,000/- to PW-3, under Section 357 Cr.P.C.

5. The case of the prosecution runs as under:

(1) Lakshmidevi is the elder daughter of PWs-1 and 2 Mohana Subramanian and Meenakshi. The accused is employed in I.C.F., Chennai. On 9.3.1998, the accused married Lakshmidevi. For about 8 months, they have lived in PW-1’s house. Thereafter, they have set up their separate family in a separate residence. On 6.9.1999, their son PW-3, Hari Eswar was born;

(2) The accused developed intimacy with a woman. He used to come home drunk and quarrel with his wife. He also demanded money from her family;

(3) PW-1 gave the accused Rs.60,000/- to purchase a flat. Subsequently also, P.W.1 gave him Rs.40,000/-. However, the accused continued to harass his wife for dowry. He also got Rs.1 lakh from Lakshmidevi’s sister in U.S.A. He scolded his wife for she remaining idle in the house without going for a job;

(4) On 27.7.2003 morning, Lakshmidevi woke up late. The accused scolded and beaten her. In the circumstances, she went to Villivakkam Railway Station along with her son. PW-2 and her friend PW-4 Jagadeeswari brought them to the house of the accused. However, the accused quipped at his wife that still she did not die;

(5) In the circumstances, on 13.8.2003, at about 1 p.m., in their house at No.15, B-1, Second Floor, Meera Apartments, North Thirumalai Nagar, Villivakkam, Chennai-49 Lakshmidevi committed suicide by hanging. PWs-1 and 2 seen their daughter’s dead body;

(6) On the same day, at about 3 p.m., at the ICF Police Station, the accused gave Ex.P-13 complaint as to the death of his wife to PW-10, Subramani, Inspector of Police. He registered a case under Section 174 Cr.P.C.;

(7) Since she died within 7 years of her marriage, P.W.9 Thirunavukkarasu, Tahsildar conducted enquiry and his report is Ex.P12. PW-12, Ramakrishnan, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Villivakkam Range took up his investigation. He visited the scene place. In the presence of PW-5 and DW-1, Thiagarajan and Ramamurthy, P.W.12 prepared Ex.P-4 Observation Mahazar. He drew Ex.P-17 Rough Sketch. In the presence of said witnesses, P.W.12 seized Ex.P-2 Diary from the house of the accused under Ex.P-15 Seizure Mahazar; PW-11, Dr.Kannan Srinivas, Forensic Professor, Kilpauk Medical College, Chennai conducted the postmortem on her dead body. He confirmed that she had committed suicide (Ex.P-14, Postmortem Certificate);

(8) PW-1 handed over the letter containing the handwriting of the deceased to PW-12. He received it under Form-95 (Ex.P-7). PW-12 sent the said letter and Ex.P-2 Diary through Court to the Forensic Lab for comparison and report. PW-12 altered the Section of law to Sections 498-A and 306 IPC and submitted Ex.P16 Alteration Report to the Court. On 14.9.2003, at about 9 p.m., in North Thirumalai Nagar, Villivakkam, PW-12 arrested the accused and sent him to Court for judicial custody. PW-13 Dhanasekaran, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Ayanavaram Range continued further investigation. He further examined PWs-1 to 4 and recorded their statement;

(9) PW-8, Kumar, Document Expert, Forensic Lab, Chennai compared and examined Ex.P-2 (Q-1 to Q-10) and the handwritings ff the deceased (S-1 to S-25) and confirmed that they were written by one and the same person. (Ex.P9 Report). PW-13 received the Analyst Report. Concluding his investigation, on 27.2.2006, he filed the Final Report against the accused before the concerned Court for offences under Sections 498-A and 304-B IPC.

6. Upon hearing both and on consideration of the Final Report and the documents attached thereto, the Trial Court framed charges under Sections 498-A and 304-B I.P.C., alternatively under Section 306 IPC. The accused pleaded not guilty to the charges.

7. To substantiate the charges, prosecution examined PWs-1 to 13, marked Exs.P-1 to P-23.

8. The Trial Court examined the accused on the incriminating aspects in the prosecution evidence under Section 313 Cr.P.C. The accused denied the offences. He also filed his written statement.

9. The accused examined DW-1, Ramamurthy to the effect that nothing was seized in his presence. DW-2, Rajeev, a neighbour of the accused, denied that he had noticed any quarrel between the accused and his wife. The accused also marked a copy of this Court’s order in O.P.No.596 of 2003 dated 20.10.2004 filed by PW-1 against the accused (Ex.D-1), School Fees remitted by him for his son (Ex.D-2), Income Tax Assessment paper of PW-1 (Ex.D-3), Evidence of PWs-2 and 5 given in O.P.No.596 of 2003 (Ex.D-4) and letter of R.D.O. to the Assistant Commissioner of Police, (LO), Sembium dated 23.7.2004 (Ex.D-5).

10. Appreciating the above evidence, the Trial Court found the accused guilty under Sections 498-A and 306 IPC and sentenced him as already stated in paragraph No.3.

11. According to the learned Senior counsel for the appellant, the prosecution must prove the charges levelled against the accused beyond all reasonable doubts. Suspicion, however, strong may not take the place of legal proof. In this connection, the learned Senior counsel cited GAMBHIR VS. STATE MAHARASHTRA (AIR 1982 SC 1157). However, in the present case, the prosecution has not established the charges levelled against the accused beyond all reasonable doubts.

12. The learned Senior counsel for the appellant further contended that in their statement to the Investigating Officer/PW-12 under section 161 Cr.P.C. PWs-1 and 2 the parents of the deceased have not implicated the accused. However, nearly after 3 years, in their further statement, they have alleged that the accused had harassed their daughter for dowry. This is an improvement and concocted version. They did not say so before P.W.9, the Tahsildar nor to the R.D.O.

13. The learned Senior counsel for the appellant further contended that the prosecution witnesses made vague allegations as to the alleged illegal intimacy of the appellant with a woman. They did not mention the name of the woman. There is no concrete information on these allegations.

14. The learned counsel for the appellant further contended that PW-3, son of the accused had been made to turn against his father. He is under the care and control of his grand-parents/P.Ws.1 and 2. He was tutored by them. He has been indoctrinated to have antipathy towards his father and exhibit it in his deposition before the trial Court. The learned Senior Counsel for the appellant further contended that it is too dangerous to act upon such evidence of a child witness.

15. The learned Senior Counsel for the appellant submitted that the evidence of a child witness has to be approached with much care and caution as possibility of tutoring him is much more. In this connection, the learned Senior Counsel cited ANAND KUMAR VS. STATE OF M.P. (AIR 2009 SC 2155) CAETANO PIEDADE FERNANDES AND ANOTHER VS. UNION TERRITORY OF GOA, DAMAN AND DIU, PANAJI, GOA (AIR 1977 SC 135), PANCHHI AND OTHERS VS. STATE OF U.P. (AIR 1998 SC 2726) and THE STATE OF BIHAR OTHERS VS. KAPIL SINGH AND ANOTHER (AIR 1969 SC 53).

16. The learned Senior counsel for the appellant further contended that Ex.P-2 diary has been simply introduced in this case by PW-1 in connivance with police. Ex.P-2 diary belongs to PW-1. It contains his address. Its truth and genuinness have to be established.

17. The learned Senior Counsel for the appellant also contended that handwriting evidence has to be properly proved. In this connection, the learned Senior counsel cited FAKHRUDDIN VS. STATE OF M.P. (AIR 1967 SC 1326).

18. According to the learned Senior Counsel for the appellant, the opinion of an handwriting expert is hearsay in nature. It cannot be elevated to the status of a substantial piece of evidence. In this connection, the learned Senior counsel cited RAHIM KHAN VS. KHURSHID AHMED AND OTHERS (AIR 1975 SC 290)

19. The learned Senior Counsel for the appellant also contended that merely because a suicide note has been left by the deceased it cannot be automatically concluded that the deceased died due to the abetment of the accused.

20. The learned Senior Counsel for the appellant submitted that there must be positive, intentional act on the part of the accused instigating the victim to commit suicide. Then only Section 306 IPC read with Section 107 IPC can be invoked. In this connection, the learned Senior Counsel cited SANJU @ SANJAY SINGH SENGAR VS. STATE OF M.P. {(2002) 5 SCC 371} and MANI VS. INSPECTOR OF POLICE, GUINDY POLICE STATION, CHENNAI {2014 (3) MLJ CRL. 18}.

21. The learned Senior Counsel for the appellant further submitted that ordinary, routine quarrels between the spouses and an husband, being a drunkard, cannot be considered a positive act on the part of the accused to force, provoke, instigate the wife to commit suicide and it will not fall under section 306 IPC In this connection, the learned Senior Counsel cited ASSOO VS. STATE OF M.P. {2012 CRL. L.J. 658}.

22. The learned Senior Counsel for the appellant also submitted that PWs-1 and 2 who were upset by the sudden demise of their daughter made the accused a scapegoat for her sudden death. Prosecution has not established the charges levelled against the accused beyond all reasonable doubts. Thus, the appellant is entitled to the benefit of doubts.

23. On the otherhand, the learned Additional Public Prosecutor submitted that the evidence of PWs-1 to 4 would clearly show that the accused had continuously harrassed his wife and he also developed illegal intimacy with a woman and he is also a drunkard and because of his activities, the deceased committed suicide. PW-3 who is the son of the accused himself had stated about the harassment of his father.

24. The learned Additional Public Prosecutor further submitted that PWs-1 to 4 have clearly stated that the accused had pursuaded, forced his wife to commit suicide. The accused had ill-treated her. Ex.P-2 diary containing her writtings would show the wrong doings of her husband. The genuinness of Ex.P-2 also has been established by the evidence of PW-8 Document expert. Thus, prosecution has established the charges levelled against the accused beyond all reasonable doubts. In the circumstances, the accused has been rightly convicted and he has been punished accordingly.

25. I have anxiously considered the rival submissions, perused the entire materials on record, the impugned judgment and also the decisions cited by the learned Senior Counsel for the appellant.

26. Now, the question is whether the charges under section 498-A and 306 IPC framed as against the accused have been proved beyond all reasonable doubts.

27. On 13.8.2003, in her house, the wife of the accused, namely, Lakshmidevi, who is the daughter of PWs-1 and 2 and mother of PW-3, has committed suicide. The accused is accused of having harassed her for dowry and cruelly treated her and also abetted her commission of suicide.

28. The offences, allegations, however, serious they may be, they have to be proved beyond all reasonable doubts. Suspicion, however, strong may not take the place of legal proof. Surmises and conjunctures cannot be elevated to the level of legal proof. Thus, the offences alleged must be established beyond all reasonable doubts by legal evidence.

29. Section 498-A IPC also seeks to punish an husband for subjecting his wife to cruelty. The cruelty may be physical or mental. It may be harassment in the nature of an unbearable conduct.

30. Section 306 IPC seeks to punsih those who abets the commission of suicide by other. It requires mental element. Such a requirement can be read into in Section 306 IPC by reading Section 107 IPC.

31. The scope of Section 306 IPC has been elaborately considered by this Court in MANI vs. INSPECTOR OF POLICE, J-3, GUINDY POLICE STATION, CHENNAI {(2014) 3 MLJ (CRL.) 18}.

32. It is relevant to note the following from ‘MANI’ (supra):

16. In the Indian Penal Code, 1860, in Chapter XIV, in Section 306 I.P.C. ‘abetment of suicide’ has been made an offence.

17. Section 306 I.P.C. runs 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.”

18. The twin requirements for an offence under section 306 I.P.C. are (1) Suicide and (2) Abetment to commit suicide.

19. = = = = = = = =

20. = = = = = = = =

21. = = = = = = = =

22. = = = = = = = =

23. In Section 306 I.P.C., the word ‘abetment’ has not been defined or explained. In Concise Oxford English Dictionary (XI Edition 2004), ‘Abetment’ (Abet, Abets, Abetting, Abetted, Abettor) has been explained as ‘encourage or assist (someone) to do something wrong in particular to do crime’.

24. In Indian Penal Code, in Chapter V (Abetment), in Section 107 ‘abetment of a thing’ has been explained. Though the word ‘abetment’ has not been defined in section 306 I.P.C., to understand its meaning, we can refer to section 107 I.P.C.

25. Section 107 I.P.C. runs as under:

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.

Explanation1:- 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.’ Explanation: 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 thing.

26. It is seen that in statutorily explaining the word ‘abetment’ (See section 107 I.P.C.) what the word abetment connotes in general English has been kept in view.

27. In RATTANLAL AND DHIRAJLAL’S ‘commentaries on the Indian Penal Code‘ (32nd Edition) (2010), at page 1735 1736, ‘abetment’, has been commented as under:

”2 Abetting Suicide The gravamen of the offence punishable u/s 306 I.P.C. is abetting suicide. Section 107, I.P.C. defines abetment as comprising:

(a) instigation to commit the offence;

(b) engaging in conspiracy to commit the offence, and

(c) aiding the commission of an offence.

Abetment thus necessarily means some active suggestion or support to the commission of the offence. The word ‘instigate’ literally means to goad, urge forward, provoke, incite or encourage to do an act and a person is said to instigate another when he actively suggests or stimulates him to the act by any means, or language, direct or indirect, whether it takes the form of express solicitation or of hints, insinuation or encouragement. It is also not necessary that the instigation should be only in words and may not be conduct.”

28. In RANDHIR SINGH AND ANOTHER VS. STATE OF PUNJAB (2004(13) SCC 129: (AIR 2004 SC 5097) the Hon’ble Supreme Court observed as under:

”Abetment involves a mental process of instigating a person or intentionally aiding that person in doing of a thing. In case of conspiracy also it would involve that mental process of entering into conspiracy for the doing of that thing. More active role which can be described as instigating or aiding the doing of a thing is required before a person can be said to be abetting the commission of offence under Section 306 IPC.”

29. In RAMESH KUMAR VS. STATE OF CHHATTISGARH (2001(9) SCC 618), ‘instigation’ has been explained by the Hon’ble Apex court 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.”

30. In S.S.CHHEENA VS. VIJAY KUMAR MAHAJAN ANOTHER (2010(12) SCC 190) the Hon’ble Apex Court observed that:

“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 Supreme Court is clear that in order to convict a person under Section 306 IPC there has to be a clear mens rea to 6 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.”

31. In AMALENDU PAL @ JHANTU VS. STATE OF WEST BENGAL (2010(1) SCC 707), the Hon’ble Apex Court has opined as under:

“12. Thus, this Court has consistently taken the view that before holding an accused guilty of an offence under Section 306 IPC, the court must scrupulously examine the facts and circumstances of the case and also assess the evidence adduced before it in order to find out whether the cruelty and harassment meted out to the victim had left the victim with no other alternative but to put an end to her life. It is also to be borne in mind that in cases of alleged abetment of suicide there must be proof of direct or indirect acts of incitement to the commission of suicide. Merely on the allegation of harassment without there being any positive action proximate to the time of occurrence on the part of the accused which let or compelled the person to commit suicide, conviction in terms of Section 306 IPC is not sustainable.”

32. In VIJAY KUMAR RASTOGI VS. STATE OF RAJASTHAN (2012) CRI. L.J.2342) the Rajasthan High Court observed as under:

”10 The word ‘urge’ means to advice or try hard to persuade somebody to do something, to make a person to move more quickly or in a particular direction, specially by pushing or forcing such person. Therefore, a person instigating another has to “goad” or “urge forward” the latter with intention to provoke, incite or encourage the doing of an act by the latter. In order to prove abetment, it must be shown that the accused kept on urging or annoying the deceased by words, taunts or wilful omission or conduct which may even be wilful silence, until the deceased reacted, or pushing the deceased by his words or wilful omission or conduct to make the deceased move forward more quickly in a forward direction. Secondly, the accused had the intention to provoke or urge or encourage the deceased to commit suicide while acting in the manner noted above. Undoubtedly the presence of mens rea is the necessary concomitant of instigation.”

33. In VIJAY KUMAR RASTOGI (supra), it was also observed as under:

”13. In order to bring a case within the purview of Section 306 IPC there must be a case of suicide and in the commission of the said offence, the person who is said to have abetted the commission of suicide must have played an active role by an act of instigation or by doing certain act to facilitate the commission of suicide. Therefore, the act of abetment by the person charged with the said offence must be proved and established by the prosecution before he could be convicted under Section 306 IPC.

34. The offence of abetment requires ‘mens rea’ (guilty mind). There must be intentional doing/aiding or goading the commission of suicide by another. Otherwise, even a mere casual remark, something said in routine and usual conversation will be wrongly construed or misunderstood as ‘abetment’.

35. In GANGULA MOHAN REDDY VS. STATE OF A.P. (2010(1) SCC (Cri.) 917), it was held that to attract section 306 I.P.C., there must be clear ‘mens rea’ to commit offence.

36. In CHITRESH KUMAR CHOPRA VS. STATE (GOVT. OF NCT OF DELHI (2010)3 SCC (CRI.) 367), the Hon’ble Supreme Court opined as under:

”This court had an occasion to deal with this aspect of abetment. The court dealt with the dictionary meaning of the word “instigation” and “goading”. The court opined that there should be intention to provoke, incite or encourage the doing of an act by the latter. Each person’s suicidability pattern is different from the others. Each person has his own idea of self- esteem and self-respect. Therefore, it is impossible to lay down any straight-jacket formula in dealing with such cases. Each case has to be decided on the basis of its own facts and circumstances.”

37. In M.MOHAN VS. D.S.P., KARAIKUDI (2011(3) SCC 626) the Hon’ble Supreme Court observed as under:

44. 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.

45. The intention of the Legislature and the ratio of the cases decided by this court are 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 this act must have been intended to push the deceased into such a position that he/she committed suicide.”

38. In STATE OF WEST BENGAL VS. ORILAL JAISWAL (1994 SCC (CRI.) 107), the Hon’ble Apex Court cautioned as under:

”The Court should be extremely careful in assessing the facts and circumstances of each case and the evidence adduced in the trial for the purpose of finding whether the cruelty meted out to the victim had in fact induced her to end the life by committing suicide. If it appears to the Court that a victim committing suicide was hypersensitive to ordinary petulance, discord and difference in domestic life, quite common to the society, to which the victim belonged and such petulance, discord and difference were not expected to induce a similarly circumstanced individual in a given society to commit suicide, the conscience of the Court should not be satisfied for basing a finding that the accused charged of abetting the offence of suicide should be found guilty.”

39. Generally, the person who commits suicide used to/liked to leave a suicide note naming certain person as responsible for his committing suicide. Merely because a person has been so named in the suicide note we are not to immediately jump to the conclusion that he is an offender under section 306 I.P.C.

40. The contents of the suicide note and other attending circumstances have to be examined to find out whether it is abetment within the meaning of section 306 I.P.C. read with section 107 I.P.C. There may be a case where in the suicide note victim had named a person, who is responsible for his committing suicide, but, on proper analysis, section 306 I.P.C. may not be attracted to him.

41. Recently, in RAJAMANNAR VS. STATE REP. BY THE INSPECTOR OF POLICE, SEVVAPET, POLICE STATION, THIRUVALLUR DISTRICT (Crl.O.P.No. 8230/2014 dated 3.4.2014) A-2 introduced A-1 to the deceased as a person who will get railway jobs for money. Relying on this, the deceased collected money from many and gave it to A-1. Ultimately, A-1 cheated him. The job seekers pressurised the deceased to return their money. Under these circumstances, the deceased and his family members have committed suicide and the deceased left a suicide note that A-2 is responsible for their death. A-2 was arrested for an offence under section 306 I.P.C.

42. In the facts and circumstances of the said case, this Court came to the conclusion that prima facie section 306 I.P.C. is not attracted towards A-2 and observed as under:

”7. On reading the entire suicide note from the beginning to end, it is seen that A-1 duped Sugumar, who received money from many persons. They have asked him and humiliated him. Unable to bear this humiliation, Sugumar committed suicide.

8. For an offence under Section 306 IPC, there are twin requirements, namely, suicide and abetment to commit suicide. No need to explain what is suicide. But what is abetment has to be understood. It is not stated in Section 306 IPC. It is ‘instigation’, ‘provocation’, compelling a person to do certain things or not to do certain things. This may be by words, deeds or writing or even by signs. May be humiliation, degrading a person in the presence of others. The act must be such that it must force, desire, compel a person to take the extreme decision. But, it must be a positive act. Thus, the act alleged to have committed on the part of the accused must have played a key role for the victim to take a decision to commit suicide.

9. If a lover commits suicide due to love failure, if a student commits suicide because of his poor performance in the examination, a client commits suicide because his case is dismissed, the lady, examiner, lawyer respectively cannot be held to have abetted the commission of suicide. For the wrong decision 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. Now, in this case, the suicide note shows that unable to bear the humiliation given by the job seekers, Sugumar committed suicide. For this, petitioner cannot be blamed. Further, no act or deed in the nature of a positive act forced Sugumar and his family members emanated from the petitioner to force them to commit suicide. The conclusion would be Sugumar died like a coward. Instead of protecting the family, he perished like an unsuccessful man in life foolishly he also took along with him his other family members also. For this, how can the petitioner be directly blamed.”

43. If a person makes an ordinary joke or a casual remark in routine course of ordinary life and when the victim commits suicide, that will not attract section 306 I.P.C. The circumstances under which the incriminating words spoken and the type and nature of the victim have also to be considered. Some positive act must have emanated from the accused towards the victim. And should be in the nature of forcing or urging the victim to take the extreme decision. If nothing had came from the accused, the accused cannot be blamed for the extreme decision taken by the victim.

44. Simple abuses are not sufficient to provoke the victim to commit suicide. It will not attract section 306 I.P.C. Simply because the lender has demanded repayment of his money, if the debtor commits suicide the creditor cannot be said to have abetted his suicide. Section 306 I.P.C. is not attracted towards him.

45. Mere reprimanding does not amount to instigation. The words stated in a fit of anger will not amount to abetment. Casual remark of husband towards his wife in the ordinary course of life will not amount to abetment to commit suicide. Because they did not say so with any mens rea. (see SWAMY PRAHALDAS VS. STATE OF MADHYA PRADESH (1995 Suppl. (3) SCC 438).

46. In NARESH MAROTRAO VS. UNION OF INDIA (1995 Crl.L.J. (Bom), the deceased poured kerosene on her body and set fire to herself in the presence of the accused. But the accused did not do anything, he did not put off the fire and saved the deceased. It was held that the accused cannot be held liable under section 306 I.P.C. read with 107 I.P.C. and he has not committed any offence at all.

47. Sometimes, the decision to commit suicide might be taken by the victim himself/herself, unaccompanied by any act or instigation etc. on the part of the accused. A person may die like a coward. On his failure in the examination, a student may commit suicide. They are weak minded. They are persons of frail mentality. For their foolish mentality/decision, another person cannot be blamed.

33. Keeping the above principles of criminal law in our view, now, we shall revert to the case at our hand.

34. PW-1, Mohanasubramanian, father of the deceased, in his evidence had stated that the accused had demanded money from his daughter Lakshmidevi. He also stated that he had given him Rs.60,000/- to purchase a flat and subsequently also gave him Rs.40,000/-. He also stated that he had pressurised his another daughter Kamatchi, who is in U.S.A. and got Rs.4 lakhs from her. PW-2, Meenakshi, mother of the deceased also reiterated her husband. PW-4, a friend of PW-3 also repeated them. However, in their statement to RDO, neither PW-1 nor PW-2 had stated those aspects.

35. PWs-1 and 2 gave their statement under Section 161 Cr.P.C. to PW-12 Ramakrishnan, Investigation Officer/Assistant Commissioner, on 13.8.2003. But, then PWs-1 and 2 did not make such allegations as against the accused. Nearly after 3 years, on 5.1.2006, in their further statement, PWs-1 and 2 have implicated the accused had harassed their daughter and also demanded dowry. In his cross-examination, PW-12 also admitted that PWs-1 and 2 have not made such a statement to him earlier.

36. PW-9, Thirunavukkarasu, Tahsildar also stated that PWs-1 and 2 did not make statement that the accused had harassed their daughter for dowry. Even in Ex.P-1, the statement of PW-1 to PW-9, he has clearly stated that there was no dowry harassment to their daughter by the accused. In his letter dated 23.7.2004 (Ex.D-5) to the Assistant Commissioner of Police, R.D.O. had stated that the enquiry did not reveal any dowry harassment by the accused. Thus, it is clear that long after the suicide of their daughter, in their evidence, PWs-1 and 2 had made subsequent developments and improvements.

37. PWs-1 and 2 have also stated that the accused is a drunkard, used to ill-treat their daughter. PWs-2 and 4 had stated that on 27.7.2003, they have seen Lakshmidevi with her son Hari Eswar/PW-3, at the Villivakkam Railway Station and when enquired, Lakshmidevi stated to have told them that the accused had harassed and beaten her.

38. PWs-2 and 4 stated that they took them to the house of the accused and in their presence, the accused is stated to have quipped at his wife that still she did not die. However, these aspects were not stated by PWs-1 and 2 in their earliest statement to police. PW-12 also did not deny this.

39. PWs-1, 2 and 4 had also stated that Lakshmidevi told them that the accused is having intimacy with a woman and when she questioned him, he harassed her. However, there is no clear cut material on this aspect. Further, in their cross-examination, they have admitted that they did not know the name of the woman with whom the accused had developed illegal intimacy.

40. PW-3, Hari Eswar is the son of the accused. He was examined before the Court on 23.1.2008. At about that time, he was 8 years old. Thus when his mother died, he would have been a 3 years old kid.

41. In his evidence, PW-3 had stated that his father had harassed his mother and told her ‘go and die’. It is pertinent to note that then PW-3 was a tender child. During the relevant period, he was a small kid. It his laconic that he is recounting an incident after 5 years implicating his father.

42. As per this Court’s order in Crl.O.P.No.596 of 2003 dated 20.10.2004 (Ex.D-1) custody of PW-3 was given to PWs-1 and 2. PW-3 admits that he is under their care and control. Since 2004, he was with them. Throughout his evidence, PW-3 called his father a ‘Monkey’. His evidence shows that he has developed too much attachment towards PWs-1 and 2, who were very much upset by the sudden demise of their daughter.

43. Thus, the arguments of the learned Senior Counsel for the appellant that PW-3 was completely tutored, made to turn the table against his father and to speak falsehood cannot be stated to be an argument without substance.

44. Ex.P-2 diary has been pressed into service in this case by the prosecution to show that there was abetment on the part of the accused to his wife to commit suicide.

45. Ex.P-2 has been produced by PW-1 to PW-12 Investigation Officer. PW-8 Kumar, Document Expert, examined the handwritings in a particular page in Ex.P-2 with the old handwritings of the deceased and concluded that both are in the handwritings of same person (Ex.P-9 Report).

46. Ex.P-2 diary belongs to PW-1. PW-1 admits that it was used by him in connection with his business. It also contains entries showing payment of wages to the persons employed by him. The diary is of the year 1998. There is no indication that it belongs to the deceased.

47. It is pertinent here to note the submissions of the learned Senior Counsel for the appellant that Ex.P-2 is a subsequent insertion of PW-1 in connivance with police. In analysing and considering the evidence of PWs-1, 12, with reference to Ex.P-2 diary such an argument cannot be dismissed as devoid of merits.

48. That apart, the opinion given by PW-8 with regard to the entries in Ex.P-2 is only hearsay evidence in nature and it cannot be a substantive piece of evidence.

49. The contents of entries in Ex.P-2 in vernacular language runs as under:-

9.2.2002 at 8 p.m., vd;id mtkhdg;gLj;jp ngrpd nghJTlh xU thh;j;ij mij gw;wp nfl;fhjJ vdf;F xU ngUapo MH;r;rp.me;j b$ae;jpia xU thh;j;j nfl;f c’;fSf;F gak;. mts; bfhoia fHl;L brd;dh vd;id bra;a bry;wp’;f. tpsf;F Vw;w md;W nkny itj;jh fPnH it mt vd;d bry;wJ vd;W brd;d MS ,d;iwf;F tpsf;F Vd; nkny btf;fs vd nfl;fpw’;f/ eP vy;yfpl;nlna ele;Jf;f bjhpa overM elj;Jf;FJid vy;yhk; vd;id nfhl;fpwh’;f mg;ngh vd;df;F vt;tst[ kd fc;;lkh ,Uf;F gjpy; nghrk vg;go ,Ug;gJ/ c’;fSf;F supportM ngrpd vdf;F fpilj;j gwpR ,Jjhd;/ Mdh vd;dhy mt nfl;l eP vg;go te;jt vd vdf;F bjhpahJ/ cd; FLk;gk; vg;gogl;lJ eP v’;fpUe;njh te;jtjhnd vd ,jak; btof;fpwkhjphp ngrpaJ vd;dhy jh’;f Koay kwf;f Koay ehd; vd;d jg;g[ gz;z vd; FLk;g fhy;Jrpf;F Mt[kh mt ,t;tst[ nftykhf epiyapny ehd; fc;lgl;l nghJ Tl c’;fSf;F me;j fc;lk; bjhpay/ ,e;j tPl;il tpl;L nghfDk; vdf;F vd;d Mirah ,t;tst[ nftykh ngrpdh vg;go ,Ug;gJ/ c’;fSf;F brhe;j tPl;il tpl;L tu kdkpy;iy. igaida[k; ntW school nru ,c;lk; ,y;iy/ ,g;go vf;fh eP’;f Vd; c’;f tpUg;gj;ij fc;lg;gl;L khj;jpf;fDk;/ eP’;fSk;. c’;f igaDk; re;njhckhf ,e;j tPl;onyna ,U’;f/ ve;j fhyj;jpypa[k; eP mgj;JsTl vdf;F cjtkhl;o’;f vdf;F ey;y bjhpe;Jtpl;lJ/ mk;kh. mg;gh jat[ bra;J ehd; nghd gpwF mtiuna mth; igaidna c’;fSld; ,Uf;f mDkjpf;fhjp’;f vJ ey;yjy;y ,jdhy; eP’;fs; jhd; fc;lg;gLtPh;fs;/@

50. In Ex.P-2 there is no indication as to when it was written. But it contains an incident alleged to have taken place on 9.2.2002 at 8 p.m. She has committed suicide on 13.8.2003.

51. An alleged event on 9.8.2008 mentioned in Ex.P-2 is projected as in the nature of instigating the victim to commit suicide. There must be proximity as between the alleged event and the actual commission of suicide by the victim. However, in this case, there is no proximity as between her suicide on 13.8.2003 and the alleged event on 9.2.2002.

52. As held in MANI VS. INSPECTOR OF POLICE, J-3, GUINDY POLICE STATION, CHENNAI {2014 (3) MLJ CRL. 18} merely because a person who has committed suicide has left a suicide note immediately one cannot jump to a conclusion that it is enough to mulct the accused with criminal liability under Section 306 IPC. The contents of the suicide note has to be analysed to find out whether it contains any incriminating information in the nature of instigation, provocation, forcing the victim to commit suicide.

53. Now reading the alleged handwritings of the deceased in Ex.P-2 diary, it is not of such a nature. The entire handwritings in Ex.P-2 would not show any abetment on the part of the accused. It would not show any intention or wish on the part of the accused that his wife should die. It would not show any positive act on the part of the accused forcing her to commit suicide.

54. Considering all the above aspects, the prosecution has not established the charges framed against the accused beyond all reasonable doubts. The accused is entitled to the benefit of doubts.

55. In the result;

(i) This Criminal Appeal is allowed. The conviction under Sections 498-A and 306 IPC of the appellant by the learned Sessions Judge, Mahila Court, Chennai in S.C.No.3 of 2007 and the sentences imposed upon him are set aside. The appellant is acquitted from the charges;

(ii) The direction of the Trial Court to pay Rs.25,000/- as compensation to PW-3, out of the total fine amount of Rs.30,000/-, if the fine amount is already paid by the appellannt, the entire fine amount of Rs.30,000/- shall be paid to PW-3 and if already Rs.25,000/- has been paid to PW-3 out of the fine amount, the balance Rs.5,000/- shall be refunded to the accused.

31-07-2015 Index : Yes / No Internet : Yes / No Svn/vaan

To

1.The Principal Sessions Judge, City Civil Court, Chennai.
2.The Sessions Judge, Mahila Court, Chennai.
3.The Superintendent, Central Prison, Puzhal, Chennai.
4.The Public Prosecutor, High Court, Madras.
5.The Assistant Commissioner of Police, Ayanavaram Range, Chennai.

P.DEVADASS, J., Svn/vaan
PRE DELIVERY JUDGMENT IN Crl.A.No.56 of 2012

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