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To prove abetment to suicide, there must be instigation, to commit suicide or intentionally aided the deceased to commit suicide: Odisha High Court

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. A word uttered in the fit of anger or emotion without intending the consequences to actually follow cannot be said to be instigation. A single bench comprising of Justice S.K. PANIGRAHI adjudicating in the matter of Prof. Dr. Sanjiv Mittal vs. State of Odisha (ABLAPL No.6554 of 2021 )dealt with an issue of whether to grant pre-arrest bail to the Petitioner.

In the present case, an application for Anticipatory Bail is filed against the SDJM Sambalpur. The petitioner was accused of offenses punishable under Section 306 read with Section 34 of the I.P.C. Prior to the present application, the petitioner approached the court of the learned Sessions Judge, Sambalpur seeking pre-arrest bail but such application was rejected.

The deceased, Mr. Dinabandhu Mishrawas was serving as a Technical Assistant (Computer) on a contractual basis at Sambalpur University for about 27 years and was appointed by the VC of the Sambalpur Technical Assistant (Computer) on a contractual basis at Sambalpur University for about 27 years. On 20.04.2021 Mr. Dinabandhu Mishrawas wrote a letter to the Registrar of Sambalpur University where he stated that the Petitioner had called him 15.04.2021 to question him regarding leaking of some information to the press about the burning of cut wood. Further, the letter states that the petitioner had called upon the deceased on the unfortunate day of 20.04.2021 wherein the deceased claimed that the petitioner had used filthy language and made false allegations against him regarding the theft of some University property without any basis. He also stated that the behavior of the Vice-Chancellor is not tolerable to him and therefore he would commit suicide and upon his death, the petitioner, one Mr. Abinash Kar, and Prof. Biswajit Satpathy are to be held responsible.

The petitioner submitted that the ingredients to constitute the said offenses are completely absent in the present case. He also contended that there is the complete absence of any sort of instigation or any positive move on the part of the petitioner causing the deceased to commit suicide. Although the incident is mournful and very unfortunate, the petitioner cannot be prosecuted for the offenses punishable under Sections 306 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. Also it was contended that the deceased on an earlier occasion on 25.03.2014 had given the representation to Sri S.C. Jamir, the then Governor of Orissa, threatening for self-immolation if his service was not regularised immediately. Similar conduct was seen in the present case and hence it can be stated that he was totally in an unbalanced state of mind and he reminded about his repeated message describing his mental status through Whatsapp and threatened self-immolation. Thus, in the past, he had frequently threatened the authority to commit suicide which reflects his vulnerable state of mind and conduct in general. Hence their partition should be allowed.

The Respondent vehemently opposed the bail application and induced the suicide letter/note itself states that the accused persons including the present petitioner used to create mental pressure on the deceased which has resulted in his committing suicide. According to the FIR and the investigation report of the Police, it was found that the accused persons are responsible for abetting the suicide of the deceased. It is clear from the plain reading of the Case Diary that the present case is not a prima facie exclusion of guilt case hence falls under the ambit of Section 306 of I.P.C. According to the set of events, the deceased was called upon the office of VC and had some discussions regarding the theft of some materials and was yelled at. The conduct of the VC was intimated to the Registrar but on the same date at about 10.30 AM he poured some inflammable liquid over his head and sets himself ablaze near the chamber of the VC. It was submitted that the rude behavior of the petitioner, his arbitrary attitude have clearly inflicted a deep scar on the psychology of the deceased which triggered him to take such a drastic step of self-immolation and died an excruciatingly painful death.

In order to prove the charge of abetment, the accused must have instigated a person to do a thing, in this case, to commit suicide or intentionally aided the deceased to commit suicide. If one goes by the suicide note of the deceased, one would find that the deceased does not state how the appellant had instigated or intentionally aided him in committing suicide.

The court held that human sensitivity differs from person to person. It is unfortunate that such a tragic episode of suicide had taken place in the case of the deceased. But the question that remains to be answered is whether the petitioner herein can be connected with such unfortunate incident in any manner, was there any motive or positive move on the part of the accused to abate such suicide etc. which can be established after a thorough inquiry followed by a proper trial. According to the facts and circumstances of the case “it appears that if the present petitioner is enlarged on anticipatory bail at this stage, it will not affect the investigation adversely. The petitioner is a noted educationalist and he is a Vice-Chancellor of a reputed University throughout this period. No case has been made out warranting the petitioner’s custodial interrogation and no reasonable apprehension lies that if the petitioner is released on bail, he is likely to abscond, therefore this court allows his prayer for anticipatory bail.”

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