The Allahabad High Court set aside a conviction order passed against a husband for abetting the suicide of his wife, remarking that separating wife from his own life could not be a reason which could come under the category of the abetment. The order is dated September 17, 2021.
The prosecution case was that the appellant and his parents were not satisfied with the dowry given in the marriage of the deceased and that they used to demand additional dowry and torturing the deceased for not meeting out the same.
In her post mortem report, aluminum phosphide poison was found in the viscera of the deceased, therefore, a charge sheet was submitted against the applicant and his father under:
- Section 498A
- Section 304B
of the IPC
- Section 4 Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961
A suicide note, written by the deceased, was the main basis of this case, which was found by Investigating Officer from the room of the deceased.
On believing the averments of suicide-note, the trial court acquitted the father of the appellant and convicted the appellant under
- Section 306 IPC
- Section 498A IPC
Allahabad High Court
The Bench of Justice Ajai Tyagi was hearing an appeal filed by husband Jagveer Singh Alias Bantu who had been convicted under Sections 498-A & 306 IPC by Additional Sessions Judge, Pilibhit.
At the outset, the Court noted that the trial court had found that the appellant used to torture the deceased mentally and that he had created such a situation before the deceased by separating her from his life that she was not left with any other option but to commit suicide and therefore, the trial court held him guilty of abetting the suicide of wife, reported Livelaw.
However, the High Court opined that this finding of the trial court was not in consonance with the settled position of law regarding abetment, as the Court noted that before a person may be said to have abetted the commission of suicide, he must have played an active role by an act of instigation or by doing a certain act to facilitate the commission of suicide.
Significantly, the court noted that in order to bring the case under Section 306 IPC, it must have been proved that the husband instigated the deceased to commit suicide or that he engaged with one or more persons in any conspiracy to abet the deceased to commit suicide or that he intentionally aided by any act for abetting her to commit suicide.
Now, referring to the facts of the case, the Court noted thus,
The trial court has referred the suicide-note left by the deceased which shows the sole reason of committing the suicide by the deceased was that she was separated by the appellant from his life. In the opinion of this Court, the aforesaid reason could not be the reason which could come under the category of the abetment.There is absolutely nothing in the suicide-note, which would make him responsible for an offence under Section 306 IPC. The aforesaid suicide note does not show any mens rea on the part of the appellant.
On Dowry Harassment Charges
The high court observed how the witnesses in the case, never uttered about dowry harassment to the investigating officer and the said charges were added only during trial. The high court said,
Learned trial court has given finding that there was mental cruelty on the part of appellant towards the deceased and on the basis of this finding, appellant was convicted under Section 498A IPC, but this Court is not convinced with this finding also because firstly there was no averment of demand of additional dowry of Rs 50,000 and a four wheeler in the FIR.
The statements of PW-1 and PW-2 show that they did not state this fact before the Investigating Officer also, both the above witnesses have stated the fact of demanding Rs 50,000/- and a four wheeler for the first time before the trial court, therefore, these averments will come under the category of improvement.
Moreover, entire suicide note does not contain any such demand of dowry or torturing the deceased. Learned trial court has wrongly given the finding of mental cruelty on the basis that appellant drove out the deceased from his life.
Lastly, underscoring that if the appellant had separated the deceased from his life, it was not compelling reason which put the deceased in a situation where she had no option but to commit suicide, the Court allowed the appeal and conviction and sentence of the appellant as awarded was set aside.
Trial court had convicted husband in 2011 and he had been on bail.
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