A suicide note alone is not proof enough to charge someone with abetting a suicide, the Bombay high court has said in a decision that is likely to spur a debate on the contentious issue.
The HC ruled last week that one cannot be held guilty of abetment “merely because a relationship fails”.
There must be evidence of the accused having “intentionally aided, or instigated” the victim to end his or her life.
The ruling came while the court was hearing an appeal filed by the state against a recent sessions court judgment.
According to the state’s plea, the lower court had erred in acquitting Mumbai resident Anurag Singh, whom police had charged under section 306 and section 495 of the IPC for abetment and concealment of marriage.
The prosecution said despite being already married, Singh had made a false promise of marriage to the deceased, who was a third-year college student.
One day the young woman came to his house unannounced and discovered that he was living with his wife. She then came back home and hanged herself. Police found a suicide note by her bedside in which she had blamed Singh for her death.
The sessions court, however, dismissed the note, questioning its authenticity.
Justice Abhay Thipsay of the Bombay high court, who was presiding over the matter, rejected the state’s appeal, saying “even if the court was to believe in the genuineness of the suicide note, the note alone would not be enough to hold Singh guilty under section 306”.
He said “merely because a relationship does not work out” and one of the two people ends his or her life, the other person cannot be held guilty of abetment.
“A study of the case laws on abetment reveals that even if a person commits suicide because of being tormented by the accused, the accused cannot be held guilty of abetment unless there is proof that he goaded or encouraged the victim to end her life,” Justice Thipsay said while dismissing the state’s appeal.
“Besides, the accused must have possessed the knowledge or intention that his acts would lead the person to commit suicide. Without knowledge or intention, there can be no abetment.”