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.
Abetment of suicide is punishable under this section and attempt to commit suicide, under section 309.
Ingredients. The ingredients of abetment of suicide are as follows:
The prosecution has to prove-
- the deceased committed suicide;
- the accused instigated or abetted the commission of suicide;
- direct involvement by the accused in such abetment or instigation is necessary.
In Ramesh Kumar v State of Chhattisgarh 2001 the Supreme Court held that where the accused by his acts or by a continued course of conduct creates such circumstances that the deceased was left with no other option but to commit suicide, an “instigation” may be inferred. In other words, in order to prove that the accused abetted commission of suicide by a person, it has to be established that
- the accused kept on irritating or annoying the deceased by words, deeds or wilful omission or conduct which may even be a wilful silence until the deceased reacted or pushed or forced the deceased by his deeds, words or wilful omission or conduct to make the deceased move forward more quickly in a forward direction, and
- that the accused had the intention to provoke, urge or encourage the deceased to commit suicide while acting in the manner noted above.
Undoubtedly, presence of mens rea is the necessary concomitant of instigation.
It was held in Gangula Mohan Reddy v. State of Andhra Pradesh 2010, that so far as abetment of suicide is concerned mens rea and active act by accused is essential to constitute the offence. In this case accused was alleged to have levelled allegation of theft of ornaments on deceased, his servant and also demanded advance paid at the time of his employment. Deceased committed suicide by consuming poison. Deceased appears to be a hypersensitive man.
Hence accused is not liable to be convicted under Section 306, I.P.C.
Instigation by conduct
In Girija Shanker v. State of M.P 1989, one Dinesh was married with Urmila. Sometimes after the marriage Urmila was being ill-treated by her husband and in-laws, who had in fact started searching for another bride for Dinesh. She was made to starve and work like a bonded labour and also subjected to mental and physical torture. One day her dead body was found in a well situated at a distance of about a furlong from the house of appellants. The three were tried under Section 302 and alternatively under Section 306 I.P.C. They were found guilty under Section 306, I.P.C. The Court held that it is not necessary that instigation should be only in words and may not be by conduct. Direct evidence of any instigation or aid is not necessary. It is a matter which can be deduced from the circumstances. In this case maltreatment and starvation coupled with a search for another bride for their son was proved and therefore appellants were guilty of abetment of suicide.
In Siddalinga v. State of Karnataka 2019, the bride committed suicide due to harassment and alleged dowry demand and cruelty meted out to deceased by accused (appellant) husband who was having illicit relationship with another woman. This was the sole cause of wife committing suicide. Held, the High Court rightly maintained the conviction of the accused under Section 498A/306 of IPC and sentenced him for rigorous imprisonment for two and five years respectively for the said two offences. The case deserved no leniency.
Abetment of defamation
The publication of defamatory article against the victim was held to be not sufficient abetment for leading the victim to suicide.
Instigation from Superior officers.-
In Madan Mohan Singh v State
of Gujarat 2010, the deceased was a driver in the Microwave Project Department. He had undergone a bypass surgery for his heart, just before the occurrence of such incident and his doctor had advised him against performing any stressful duties. The accused was a superior officer to the deceased. When the deceased failed to comply with the orders of the accused, the accused became very angry and threatened to suspend the deceased, rebuking him very harshly for not listening to him. The accused also asked the deceased how he still found the will to live, despite being insulted so the driver committed suicide. For the purpose of bringing home any charge, vis-à-vis section 306/107 IPC, 1860 against the accused, Supreme Court stated that there must be allegations to the effect that the accused had either instigated the deceased in some way, to commit suicide or had engaged with some other person in a conspiracy to do so or that the accused had in some way aided any act or illegal omission to cause the said suicide.