Naming somebody in suicide note not enough to prove abetment: HC
The case pertained to the suicide of the employee of a Gurgaon firm on March 23, 2011. In his suicide note, he had accused six people of forcing him to take the extreme step.Updated: Jun 06, 2018 12:09 IST
A case of abetment to suicide cannot be made out if a “person of weak mentality” names somebody in his suicide note but a subsequent investigation fails to establish the accused’s guilt, the Punjab and Haryana high court has ruled.
“The offence of abetment requires ‘mens rea’ (a guilty mind). There must be intentional aiding or goading the commission of suicide by another. Otherwise, even a casual remark or something said in everyday conversation will be wrongly construed as abetment,” a high court bench of justice PB Bajanthri said, quashing an FIR against four lawyers and two employees of a Gurgaon firm in a suicide case dating back to 2011.
Iqbal Asif Khan, a manager with Xerox India Limited, had ended his life on March 23 that year. His suicide note alleged that six people – lawyers AR Madhav Rao, RK Hasija, MP Devnath and Nishant Mishra and firm employees Inder Singh Bisht and Ganesh Prasad Sati – had forced him to take the extreme step.
However, a police investigation failed to find any wrongdoing on their part. The accused also pointed out to the court that the allegations were vague in nature, and must have been made by Khan at a time of severe stress.
Justice Bajanthri observed that one cannot immediately jump to the conclusion that a person has abetted suicide just because he was named in a suicide note. Instead, the “attending circumstances” have to be examined to find out if the accused was responsible in any way, he said.
“For the wrong decision taken by a coward, fool, idiot, a man of weak mentality, a man of frail mentality, another person cannot be blamed as having abetted his committing suicide (sic),” the court observed in its ruling.