Suicide Bail-Suicide Note-FSL Report-Bail Granted-Advocate Drall
A Delhi Court has granted bail in suicide case to a man, arrested in connection with a case of alleged suicide of a doctor in south Delhi in April last year.
Additional Sessions Judge Geetanjli Goel granted the relief to Kapil Nagar on furnishing a bail bond of Rs 25,000 with one surety of like amount.
Nagar was allegedly a close aide of AAP legislator Prakash Jarwal, who was also arrested in the case and is currently out on bail.
The court said in its order dated March 20, “As per the report of the IO (investigating officer), the voice sample of the witness Sanjay has already been collected and samples are now before the FSL (Forensic Science Laboratory) and it is stated that no further investigation remains to be done.
“Charge sheet has already been filed. In these circumstances, no purpose would be served by sending the applicant (Nagar) to custody,” it said.
The court directed Nagar not to tamper with evidence or influence the witnesses in the case.
The court noted that a perusal of the material on record showed that there was no mention of Nagar’s name in the complaint made by the wife of the deceased just one week before the suicide to Delhi Jal Board and there was no allegation of threat or extortion.
“Moreover, no complaint was made of extortion or harassment against the applicant (Nagar) since 2006 since when the deceased and his family members were plying water tankers. It is not in dispute that the name of the deceased was blacklisted by DJB.
“As regards the allegations of stoppage of payment, there is merit in the contention of the counsel for the applicant that the applicant was neither the Member of DJB nor its office bearer to have been in a position to stop the payment of money,” it said.
It further said nothing has been brought on record to show that the deceased or his family members had applied for re-engagement of water tankers and the main allegations were against Jarwal.
It said it was true that the deceased had committed suicide on April 18, 2020, but there were no allegations prima facie against Nagar immediately prior to the date of the incident nor any complaint of alleged extortion of money made by them against him.
“Even the allegations that have been made of influencing the witnesses are against the accused Prakash Jarwal and not against the present applicant (Nagar),” the court said.
Advocate Ravi Drall, appearing for Nagar, submitted that he was on interim bail and had already joined the investigation.
Drall further said that there was no evidence to prove that Nagar had allegedly tried to extort money from the deceased.
Additional Public Prosecutor Manoj Garg, appearing for the police, opposed the bail plea saying allegations against Nagar were serious in nature as he had allegedly abetted the commission of the suicide.
Rajendra Singh, 52, allegedly committed suicide in Durga Vihar in south Delhi on April 18. In his suicide note, the doctor held Jarwal responsible for his death.
Like Jarwal, Singh was also involved in the business of water supply with the Delhi Jal Board since 2007, and police alleged that the MLA and his associates were extorting money from other water-tanker owners, including the doctor.
Jarwal, who represents the Deoli assembly constituency, was arrested on May 9, after a case of alleged extortion and abetment to suicide was filed against him and others based on a police complaint by the doctor’s son — Hemant.
The FIR said Singh had been allegedly threatened and intimidated by Jarwal and others.
Police alleged that their investigation showed the money extorted from water-tanker owners was routed through the MLA’s brother Anil Jarwal and invested in several properties and farm-houses in Delhi, Gurugram (Haryana) and Jaipur (Rajasthan).
They also claimed that Jarwal had got allotted many water borewells in his constituency by influencing the Jal Board and one water borewell was illegally given after taking Rs 10 lakh as “gratification money”.
Police said complaints against the accused were filed to various authorities but action was allegedly never taken.
They said they have found a WhatsApp group in the name of tanker-owners whose administrator was Nagar.
Interpretation of ‘instigation’
Instigation literally means to encourage, provoke or incite a person to commit an act which is abstained by law. The Indian Penal Code, 1860, does not define the term “instigate”. In the case of Ramesh Kumar v. State of Chhattisgarh (2001), the Hon’ble Supreme Court ruled that “instigation” can be interpreted as a series of acts on the part of the accused that led to the establishment of such conditions where the deceased had no other alternative than to commit suicide. In other words, in order to prove that the accused abetted the act of suicide of a person, it must be established that:
- That the accused continued to irritate or annoy the deceased through words, deeds, or wilful omission or conduct, including wilful silence, until the deceased reacted, pushed or forced to commit suicide.
- That the accused intended to provoke, urge or encourage the deceased to commit suicide while acting in the manner abovementioned. Without a doubt, the presence of mens rea is a crucial condition for instigation.
In the case of B Sridevi v. State of Andhra Pradesh (2022), the Andhra Pradesh High Court ruled that proof of incitement and abetment is required and that mere claims of workplace pressure or harassment will not serve to attract components of Section 306 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
In the case of Ramesh Babubhai Patel v. State of Gujarat (2022), the Gujarat High Court held that words spoken in anger, not with the intention of instigation, cannot be constituted as abetment of suicide.
Punishment for abetment of suicide
Abetment of suicide is punishable under Section 306. The punishment for abetment of suicide is imprisonment for a term which may extend to ten years and a fine.
In the case of Daxaben v. State Of Gujarat (2022), the Hon’ble Supreme Court held that the abetment of suicide is a heinous, grave and non-compoundable offence which cannot be resolved with a mere compromise.
Burden of proof
It is necessary to evaluate the facts and circumstances in order to establish the act of abetment of suicide. The prosecution needs to prove –
- The deceased must commit suicide as held in the case of Satvir Singh And Ors v. State Of Punjab (2001),
- The accused instigated or abetted committing suicide, and
- Mens Rea of the accused as held in the case of Gurcharan Singh v. the State of Punjab, (2016)
The prosecution has to predominantly rely on circumstantial evidence. In the landmark case of Gurbachan Singh v. Satpal Singh and Ors (1989), the Hon’ble Supreme Court ruled that the burden of proof of abetment of suicide lies on the prosecution. Therefore, it’s important to gather convincing proof, such as indirect or circumstantial evidence.
Suicide note as “evidence”
Suicide notes are basically written by a person who allegedly commits suicide and writes out the cause of their suicide. They may be used as an important piece of evidence for proving the abetment of suicide under Sections 306 and 107 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. A suicide note can be a written note, typed, an audio message, or in a video format. The content of a suicide note can be a plea for absolution or framing charges against the accused for abetting the suicide.
In the case of Harbhajan Sandhu v. State of Punjab and Anr (2022), the Punjab-Haryana High Court ruled that a person is not guilty of abetting suicide simply because their name appears in a suicide note. The ingredients of Section 306 must be fulfilled.
Nexus between Section 113A of the Evidence Act, 1872 and Section 306 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860
Section 113A of the Evidence Act, 1872, presumes the commission of suicide by a married woman to have been abetted by her husband or any relative of his relative if it is established that she committed suicide within a period of seven years from the date of her marriage and that her husband or any of his relatives had subjected her to cruelty. “Cruelty” has the same meaning as defined under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860
The ingredients of Section 306 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 are necessary to be fulfilled for conviction of the crime under Section 113A.
In the case of Gumansinh v. State of Gujarat (2021), the Hon’ble Supreme Court ruled that Section 113A of the Evidence Act can be invoked to uphold the conviction of the accused in the absence of direct evidence.
Euthanasia and abetment of suicide
The word “euthanasia” is derived from the Greek words “eu” and “thanotos,” which means “good death”. Euthanasia, often known as mercy killing, is the act of putting to death in a painless manner to those suffering from severe and incurable diseases. The Law Commission‘s 241st report outlined the details of Passive Euthanasia – A Relook. In the case of Aruna Ramchandra Shanbaug v. Union of India and Ors (2011), the Hon’ble Supreme Court held that physician assisted suicide constitutes a crime under Section 306 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. However, the Court permitted passive euthanasia in extraordinary and extremely uncommon instances with the consent of the patient’s family members and doctors.
Exceptions to abetment of suicide
- In the case of A.K. Chaudhary and Ors. v. State of Gujarat and Ors. (2005), the Gujarat High Court ruled that if an employee commits suicide due to any abnormal reaction caused by the complainant or higher officer’s conduct of taking departmental action by using a legal remedy or enforcing the law, it cannot be deemed an abetting or encouraging suicide under such circumstances.
- In the case of Reena v. NCT of Delhi (2020), Delhi High Court ruled that an accused cannot be held guilty of abetment of suicide if the deceased appeared to be of weak character and unable to handle the ups and downs of life.
- In the case of Ajayakumar and anr. v. State of Kerala (2021), Kerala High Court observed that merely because an accused has been held liable to be punished under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 does not automatically mean that he must also be held guilty of having abetted the commission of suicide by the woman concerned under Section 306 Indian Penal Code, 1860.
- In the case of Sabirabano Yusuf Sayyad v. State of Maharashtra (2021), the Bombay High Court ruled that the charge against the accused cannot be framed as abetment of suicide as an alternative to committing murder.
- In the case of Velladurai v. State (2021), the accused and his wife consumed pesticide together as there was some quarrel between the accused and his wife. The accused survived and his wife died. The Hon’ble Supreme Court ruled that the accused cannot be held guilty under Section 306 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 as this case lacked the necessary ingredients mentioned under the Section.
- In the case of Kanchan Sharma v. State of Uttar Pradesh (2021), the Hon’ble Supreme Court quashed the criminal proceeding against the accused filed under Section 306 on the absence of any material within the meaning of Section 107 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and lack of any positive act on the part of the accused to instigate or aid in committing suicide.
- In the case of Dyamanna s/o Yamanappa v. State of Karnataka (2022), the Karnataka High Court ruled that mere harassment by way of filing cases cannot associate the petitioner for the offence punishable under Section 306 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
- In the case of Mariano Anto Bruno v. Inspector of Police (2022), the Hon’ble Supreme Court held that for an offence to be punished under Section 306 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, there must be a clear mens rea and direct act of instigation or abetment which led the deceased to commit suicide.