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No Straitjacket Formula For Conviction In Suicide Abetment Case:SC

PTI 05 Jan 2010, 20:17:29 PM IST

Even as Haryana Government turned on the heat on former top cop S P S Rathore who molested Ruchika Girhotra charging him with abetment to suicide, the Supreme Court on Tuesday said it is "impossible to lay down any straitjacket formula" to convict an accused in such cases. 

A bench of Justices Dalveer Bhandari and A K Patnaik said an accused can be convicted if he or she was guilty of abetting the suicide or has committed an act that must have pushed the deceased to take the extreme step. 

"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.  "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 apex court said in a judgement. 

The apex court passed the verdict while acquitting Gangula Mohan Reddy of the charge of abetting the suicide of his employee Ramulu who ended his life after being accused of stealing gold ornaments in the house and told to refund Rs 7,000 loaned to him. 

A sessions court had sentenced Reddy to 10 years in jail but Andhra Pradesh High Court, while confirming the conviction, reduced the sentence to five years, follwing which Reddy appealed in the apex court.  

Citing its earlier rulings, the apex court said the intention of the legislature to introduce the provision of Section 306 IPC (abetment) to suicide was clear that a person can be convicted if he/she had the guilty intention. 

"The intention of the legislature and the ratio of the cases decided by this court is clear that in order to convict a person under Section 306 IPC there has to be a clear mens rea (intention) 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 committed suicide," the bench said.  In the present case, the apex court said Reddy cannot be held guilty of abetting the suicide as the deceased Ramulu appeared to be hypersensitive. 

"In the instant case, the deceased was undoubteldy hypersensitive to ordinary petulance, discord and differences which happen in our day-to-day-life. Human sensitivity of one individual differs from the other. Different people behave differently in the same situation," the apex court said. 

Recalling its observations in the West Bengal vs Orilal Jaiswal (1994) case, the apex court cautioned that courts should be extremely careful in assessing the facts and circumstances of each case to find out whether cruelty has really been meted out to the victim compelling her or him to commit suicide. PTI