Instigation or Abetment to suicide

What is the meaning of instigation?

Facts:

The picture which emerges from a cumulative reading and assessment of the material available is this. Presumably because of disinclination on the part of the accused to drop the deceased at her sister’s residence the deceased felt disappointed, frustrated and depressed. She was overtaken by a feeling of shortcomings which she attributed to herself. She was overcome by a forceful feeling generating within her that in the assessment of her husband she did not deserve to be his life-partner. The accused Ramesh may or must have told the deceased that she was free to go anywhere she liked. May be that was in a fit of anger as contrary to his wish and immediate convenience the deceased was emphatic on being dropped at her sister’s residence to see her. Presumably the accused may have said some such thing you are free to do whatever you wish and go wherever you like. The deceased being a pious Hindu wife felt that having being given in marriage by her parents to her husband, she had no other place to go excepting the house of her husband and if the husband had “freed” her she thought impulsively that the only thing which she could do was to kill herself, die peacefully and thus free herself according to her understanding of the husband’s wish. Can this be called an abetment of suicide?

Unfortunately, the Trial Court mis-spelt out the meaning of the expression attributed by the deceased to her husband as suggesting that the accused had made her free to commit suicide. Making the deceased free – to go wherever she liked and to do whatever she wished, does not and cannot mean even by stretching that the accused had made the deceased free “to commit suicide” as held by the Trial Court and upheld by the High Court.

Meaning of instigation:

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.

Analysis:

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 transpires to the Court that a victim committing suicide was hypersensitive to ordinary petulance, discord and differences in domestic life quite common to the society to which the victim belonged and such petulance, discord and differences 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.

Sections 498-A and 306 IPC are independent and constitute different offences. Though depending on the facts and circumstances of an individual case, subjecting a woman to cruelty may amount to an offence under Section 498-A and may also, if a course of conduct amounting to cruelty is established leaving no other option for the woman except to commit suicide, amount to abetment to commit suicide. However, merely because an accused has been held liable to be punished under Section 498-A IPC it does not follow that on the same evidence he must also and necessarily be held guilty of having abetted the commission of suicide by the woman concerned. Evidential value of the two writings contained in diary Article A is that of dying declarations. On the principle underlying admissibility of dying declaration in evidence that truth sits on the lips of a dying person and the Court can convict an accused on the basis of such declaration where it inspires full confidence, there is no reason why the same principle should not be applied when such a dying declaration speaking of the cause of death exonerates the accused unless there is material available to form an opinion that the deceased while making such statement was trying to conceal the truth either having been persuaded to do so or because of sentiments for her husband. The writing on page 11 of diary (Article A) clearly states that the cause for committing suicide was her own feeling ashamed of her own faults. She categorically declares – none to be held responsible or harassed for her committing suicide. The writing on page 12 of diary (Article A) clearly suggests that some time earlier also she had expressed her wish to commit suicide to her husband and the husband had taken a promise from her that she would not do so. On the date of the incident, the husband probably told the deceased that she was free to go wherever she wished and wanted to go and this revived the earlier impulse of the deceased for committing suicide. The dying declaration Exbt. P/10 corroborates the inference flowing from the two writings contained in the diary and as stated hereinabove. The conduct of the accused trying to put off the fire and taking his wife to hospital also improbabilises the theory of his having abetted suicide.

In our opinion there is no evidence and material available on record wherefrom an inference of the acucsed-appellant having abetted the commission of suicide by Seema may necessarily be drawn. The totality of the circum-stances discussed hereinabove, especially the dying-declaration and the suicide notes left by the deceased herself, which fall for consideration within the expression “all the other circumstances of the case” employed in Section 113-A of Evidence Act, do not permit the presumption thereunder being raised against the accused. The accused- appellant, therefore, deserves to be acquitted of the charge under Section 306 IPC.

[Source: Ramesh Kumar v. State of Chhattisgarh, (2001) 9 SCC 618]
[See also State of West Bangal v. Orilal Jaiswal, AIR 1994 SC 1418, 1994 (1) ALT Cri 193, 1994 (1) BLJR 267, 1994 CriLJ 2104, I (1994) DMC 138 SC, JT 1993 (6) SC 69, 1993 (3) SCALE 845, (1994) 1 SCC 73, 1993 Supp 2 SCR 461]
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