This article has been authored by Ritik Jain, a Second year students Nirma Law University.
According to section 107 of Indian Penal Code (IPC),1860, abetment is the instigation of a person to do (or not to do) an act in a certain way, or aid given by some person to another either of his own accord or under the provisions governing joint and constructive liability. This involves a mental process of instigating a person or intentionally aiding a person in doing of a thing.
Suicide implies an act of self-killing, meaning, it is often carried out as a result of despair, the cause of which is frequently attributed to a mental illness including depression and personality disorder etc. Often, stress factors such as financial difficulties or troubles with interpersonal relationships may also lead to self -killing or suicide.
So, if we talk about the concept of abetment of Suicide, then any person commits suicide, whoever abets the commission of such suicide, shall be punished under section 306 of Indian penal code.
However, "if there is a financial transaction, A owes money to B, and B commits suicide due to financial stress, is that Abetment or Abetment of Suicide?
Will there be an offence of Abetment of Suicide if one commits suicide due to stress arising out of a financial transaction?
whether Abetment of Suicide cases will be charged in the matters of financial transactions?
Will there be an offence of Abetment of Suicide, if mere name of any person in Suicide Note is mentioned?
Therefore, this Article aims to explain the Abetment of Suicide cases in financial transactions with the constituents and ingredients of Abetment of suicide, and validity of suicide note in the such cases.
(ii) What Constitutes an offence of Abatement of Suicide in financial transactions-
The following case laws amply explain, “what constitutes Abetment of Suicide in financial transactions”:
(I ) Rohit Nalawade vs. State of Maharashtra- In this case, Pramod Prakash(deceased) took a loan from Mahindra financial service limited to buy a new vehicle and the company sanctioned the amount of Rs.6,21,000 to the deceased and it was agreed by the deceased to pay that amount through monthly instalments of Rs.17,800 in 4 years. On 22ndmarch 2018, an amount of Rs.15,800 was paid by the deceased and he assured the applicant to pay the remaining amount later. However, the applicant did not agree with this and started harassing the deceased. After this, the deceased committed suicide due to financial difficulties and mentioned the applicant’s name in the suicide note. Therefore, the offence of abetment of suicide was registered against the applicant under section 306 of the IPC. The court held that offence of abetment of suicide cannot be charged against the applicant because there is no intention of applicant to aid or abet or instigate the deceased. This is the duty of the applicant as an employee of Mahindra finance company ltd., to clear all outstanding loan amount of deceased. Therefore, demand of outstanding loan from the deceased can’t fall under the ambit of offence of abatement of suicide.
(ii) Arnab Goswami vs. State of Maharashtra- In this case, the applicant’s company ARG Ltd. had signed a contract with the deceased’s company for an interior work. ARG had paid an amount of Rs. 5.45 crores to the deceased but there was a commercial dispute between the two companies with regard to the remaining payment. Later, the deceased committed suicide due to financial difficulties arising from the commercial dispute. The court held that offence of abetment of suicide can’t be charged against any person by merely suicide committed due to any financial transactions or any financial difficulties. The court also held that for proving an offence of abetment of suicide under section 306 of IPC, it must be prima-facie established by the prosecution that accused had an intention to abet or instigate or to aid the deceased to commit suicide. Abetment includes intentionally aiding a person or instigating a person to do a thing and without an accused’s positive act to instigate or abet the deceased, said person cannot be charged under section 306 of IPC. In other words, there must be an accused’s direct act or active role or Mens Rea which led the deceased to commit suicide without seeing any other option available.
Therefore, in the absence of these ingredients, an offence can’t be charged against the applicant.
According to section 107 of IPC, an offence of Abetment can be done by an instigating a person or by aiding or by any conspiracy: -
· Abetment by instigation- Instigation means to provoke, incite or urge any person for doing an act which is prohibited by law. In other words, if any person directly or indirectly suggests to do an unlawful act by language or by any other means then it can be said as an instigation.
· Abetment by conspiracy- Conspiracy means engaging of one or more person to commit the offence.
· Abetment by aid- If any person gives an aid by doing or omitting to do an act or renders assistance intentionally for doing of an act then it can be said as an abetment to the commission of offence. In this, intentional aid consists of three components, which are- (i) Doing of an act by directly assisting, (ii) Illegally omitting a thing, and (iii)Facilitate to another person by doing of an act.
To invoke section 305 and 306 of the IPC,offence of Abetment must conform to the definition which is given in section 107 of the IPC.There must be instigation, or intentional aid or conspiracy to commit an offence .So, there must be clear Mens Rea to commit the offence under section 305 or 306 of IPC.Hence, prosecution has to prove the following components for conviction: (i)The deceased committed suicide,(ii)The accused instigated the deceased to commit suicide, and (iii) Mens Rea of the accused or intentional mind.
After an analysis of the abovementioned case laws and relevant provisions of the IPC, “what constitutes an offence of Abetment of Suicide in financial transactions” can be definitively laid down. However, if any person mentions any name in a suicide note or makes an open statement about any person before committing suicide, will it come under the ambit of offence of Abetment of Suicide or not?
(3) Suicide Note as A Conclusive Evidence-
According to section 32(1) of Indian Evidence Act, if any person makes any statement as the cause of their death or due to any transaction which resulted in their loss of life then, such ,statement made by the person will be relevant in Court of Law, whether that person who made the statement was alive or not or made under the expectation of death. These statements made by person can be in oral, written and by conduct. This will be treated as an evidence according to the maxim ‘Nemo Mariturus Presum Untur Mentri’ which means that ‘men will not meet his maker with lying on his mouth’. In other words, dying man can’t speak any false statements or can never lie because truth sits on the lips of that person.
The Supreme Court in Madan Mohan Singh vs. State of Gujrat, however held a different stand. The court stated that the expression of state given by deceased in suicide note can’t portray anything intentional on the part of accused that deceased might commit suicide. In other words, the intention of the accused to aid or instigate the deceased to commit suicide must be present to bring the offence under section 306 of IPC.Merely an expression in a suicide note will not be sufficient to bring the offence against the accused under section 306 of IPC.
The court further held that in the context of an offence of abetment of suicide, many issues remain a vexed one due to complex attributes of human behaviour and responses or reactions. Therefore, the court would be looking for cogent or convincing proof of the act(s) of incitement to commission of suicide in the case of accusation for abetment of suicide and mere allegation of harassment of the deceased by another person would not be sufficient for the offence unless it depicted on the part of accused to compel that person to commit suicide. These actions also ought to be proximate to the time of occurrence.
If any person commits suicide due to any financial transactions or any financial difficulties and mentions any person’s name in suicide note then merely due to this, the offence of Abetment of Suicide will not be charged against that person under section 306 of IPC. For proving a charge of Abatement of Suicide, there must be an accused’s positive act and intentional mind to instigate or abet the deceased to do an act.
In today’s society, people face many problems relating to their workplace or due to commercial transactions, and who are unable to deal with such pressures tends to end up their Life. Thus, cases of suicides are becoming very common in country. Moreover, along with this, there has been a steady rise in cases of Abetment of suicide, be it a case of abetment by instigating or by intentionally aiding the victim in doing of an act. The accused can easily defeat the provisions dealing with such offence because the ambit of these provisions are limited to three categories only.
Therefore, an overall analysis of the facts and circumstances a case must be examined carefully by the court in these cases because no innocent person shall suffer merely due to a wrong decision taken by another person.