Mohan Reddy Vs. State of A.P.  INSC 4 (5 January 2010)
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 1301
of 2002 Gangula Mohan Reddy .. Appellant Versus State of Andhra Pradesh ..
This appeal is directed against the judgment of the High Court of
Judicature of Andhra Pradesh at Hyderabad in Criminal Appeal No. 1039 of 1996
dated 30.3.2002. The appellant was convicted by the Assistant Sessions Judge,
Nagarkurnool under Section 306 of the Indian Penal Code (for short `the Code')
and sentenced to suffer rigorous 2 imprisonment for 10 years and to pay a fine
of Rs.10,000/- and in default to suffer simple imprisonment for six months.
The appellant, aggrieved by the said judgment of the learned
Assistant Sessions Judge filed an appeal before the High Court. The High Court
upheld the judgment of the learned Assistant Sessions Judge, but while
affirming the conviction of the appellant under Section 306 of the Code, the
sentence of rigorous imprisonment of 10 years was reduced to 5 years. The
appellant, aggrieved by the said judgment, approached this Court. This Court
granted leave and released the appellant on bail.
The brief facts which are relevant to dispose of this appeal are
recapitulated as under:
to the case of the prosecution, the appellant, who is an agriculturist had
harassed his agriculture labour (servant) deceased Ramulu by levelling the
allegation that he had committed theft of some gold ornaments two days prior to
his death. It was also alleged that the appellant had demanded Rs.7,000/- from
the deceased which was given in advance to him at the time when he was kept in
The prosecution further alleged that the deceased Ramulu could not
bear the harassment meted out to him and he committed suicide by consuming
pesticides. The prosecution in support of its case examined the father of the
deceased as P.W.1 Urikonda Jammanna in which he had stated that his son Ramulu
was a farm servant and used to work at the house of the appellant. He also
stated that the appellant gave Rs.7,000/- in advance to his son. PW1 also
stated that about two years ago, the appellant had asked his son (Ramulu) that
his wrist watch was missing from his house and harassed him on which his son
had returned the watch to the appellant. PW1 in his statement stated that the
appellant also levelled the allegation that the gold ear-rings were also
missing from his house and the same were stolen by Ramulu.
stated that the appellant also demanded the advance of Rs.7,000/- paid to
Ramulu at the time of his employment.
further stated that Ramulu committed suicide because the appellant had levelled
the allegation of theft of ornaments.
The prosecution also examined Balamma, the mother of the deceased
as P.W.2. She also corroborated the statement of 4 PW1 and gave same version of
the incident in her testimony.
basis of the testimonies of P.W.1 and P.W.2, the Trial Court convicted the
appellant under Section 306 of the Code and his conviction on appeal was
confirmed by the High Court.
Learned counsel for the appellant submitted that the conviction of
the appellant is totally unsustainable because no ingredients of offence under
section 306 of the Code can be made out in the facts and circumstances of this
case. It would be profitable to set out section 306 of the Code:
Abetment of suicide - 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 extent to ten years, and shall also be liable
The word suicide in itself is nowhere defined in the Indian Penal
Code, however its meaning and import is well known and requires no explanation.
`Sui' means `self' and `cide' means `killing', thus implying an act of
self-killing. In short a person committing suicide must commit it by himself,
irrespective of the means employed by him in achieving his object of killing
Suicide by itself is not an offence under either English or Indian
criminal law, though at one time it was a felony in England. In England, the
former law was of the nature of being a deterrent to people as it provided
penalties of two types:
Degradation of corpse of deceased by burying it on the highway with a stake
through its chest.
Forfeiture of property of deceased by the State.
This penalty was later distilled down to merely not providing a
full Christian burial, unless the deceased could be proved to be of unsound
mind. However, currently there is no punishment for suicide after the enactment
of the Suicide Act, 1961 which proclaims that the rule of law whereby it was a
crime for a person to commit suicide has been abrogated.
In our country, while suicide in itself is not an offence,
considering that the successful offender is beyond the reach of law, attempt to
suicide is an offence under section 309 of IPC.
`Abetment' has been defined under section 107 of the Code. We deem
it appropriate to reproduce section 107, which reads as under:
Abetment of a thing - A person abets the doing of a thing, who - First -
Instigates any person to do that thing; or Secondly - Engages with one or more
other person or persons in any conspiracy for the doing of that thing, if an
act or illegal omission takes places in pursuance of that conspiracy, and in
order to the doing of that thing; or Thirdly - Intentionally aides, by any act
or illegal omission, the doing of that thing."
Explanation 2 which has been inserted along with section 107 reads
2 - Whoever, either prior to or at the time of the commission of an act, does
anything in order to facilitate the commission of that act, and thereby
facilitate the commission thereof, is said to aid the doing of that act."
Learned counsel for the appellant has placed reliance on a
judgment of this Court in Mahendra Singh & Another v. State of M.P. 1995
Supp. (3) SCC 731. In the case of Mahendra Singh, the allegations levelled are
as under:- 7 "My mother-in-law and husband and sister-in-law (husband's
elder brother's wife) harassed me. They beat me and abused me. My husband
Mahendra wants to marry a second time. He has illicit connections with my
sister-in-law. Because of these reasons and being harassed I want to die by
The court on aforementioned allegations came to a definite
conclusion that by no stretch the ingredients of abetment are attracted on the
statement of the deceased.
to the appellant, the conviction of the appellant under section 306 IPC merely
on the basis of aforementioned allegation of harassment of the deceased is
unsustainable in law.
Learned counsel also placed reliance on another judgment of this
court in Ramesh Kumar v. State of Chhattisgarh (2001) 9 SCC 618. A three-Judge
bench of this court had an occasion to deal with a case of a similar nature. In
a dispute between the husband and wife, the appellant husband uttered "you
are free to do whatever you wish and go wherever you like". Thereafter,
the wife of the appellant Ramesh Kumar committed suicide. The Court in 8
paragraph 20 has examined different shades of the meaning of
"instigation'. Para 20 reads as under:
Instigation is to goad, urge forward, provoke, incite or encourage to do
"an act". To satisfy the requirement of instigation though it is not
necessary that actual words must be used to that effect. or what constitutes
instigation must necessarily and specifically be suggestive of the consequence.
Yet a reasonable certainty to incite the consequence must be capable of being
spelt out. the present one is not a case where the accused had by his acts or
omission or by a continued course of conduct created such circumstances that
the deceased was left with no other option except to commit suicide in which
case an instigation may have been inferred. A word uttered in the fit of anger
or emotion without intending the consequences to actually follow cannot be said
to be instigation."
In State of West Bengal v. Orilal Jaiswal & Another.
SCC 73, this Court has cautioned that the Court should be extremely careful in
assessing the facts and circumstances of each case and the evidence adduced in
the trail for the purpose of finding whether the cruelty meted out to the
victim had in fact induced her to end the life by committing suicide. If it
appears to the Court that a victim committing suicide was hypersensitive to
ordinary petulance, discord and difference in domestic life quite common to the
society to which the victim belonged and such petulance, 9 discord and
difference were not expected to induce a similarly circumstanced individual in
a given society to commit suicide, the conscience of the Court should not be
satisfied for basing a finding that the accused charged of abetting the offence
of suicide should be found guilty.
The Court in the instant case came to the conclusion that there is
no evidence and material available on record wherefrom an inference of the
accused-appellant having abetted commission of suicide by Seema may necessarily
In the instant case, the deceased was undoubtedly hyper sensitive
to ordinary petulance, discord and differences which happen in our day-to-day
life. Human sensitivity of each individual differs from the other. Different
people behave differently in the same situation.
This court in Chitresh Kumar Chopra v. State (Govt. of NCT of
Delhi) 2009 (11) SCALE 24 had an occasion to deal with this aspect of abetment.
The court dealt with the dictionary meaning of the word "instigation"
opined that there should be intention to provoke, 10 incite or encourage the
doing of an act by the latter. Each person's suicidability pattern is different
from the others.
person has his own idea of self esteem and self respect.
it is impossible to lay down any strait-jacket formula in dealing with such
cases. Each case has to be decided on the basis of its own facts and
Abetment involves a mental process of instigating a person or
intentionally aiding a person in doing of a thing.
positive act on the part of the accused to instigate or aid in committing
suicide, conviction cannot be sustained.
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 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.
In the light of the provisions of law and the settled legal
positions crystallized by a series of judgments of this Court, the conviction
of the appellant cannot be sustained.
Consequently, the appeal filed by the appellant is allowed and disposed of.
During the pendency of the appeal, the appellant was released on
bail. He is not required to surrender. His bail bond is cancelled and he is set
at liberty forthwith, if not required in any other case.
Consequently, the appeal filed by the appellant is allowed.
................................J. (Dalveer Bhandari)
................................ J. (A. K. Patnaik)
January 5, 2010.