Supreme Court Verdict Emphasizes Proximate Cause in Abetment Cases.

Date: December 1, 2023.

Court: Supreme Court of India.

Nature: Criminal Appeal.

Quorum: Hon’ble J. Abhay S. Oka, J. Pankaj Mithal.


Facts of the case

The appellant in this case is accused of abetting suicide under Section 306 of the Indian Penal Code. The respondent, a widow, had borrowed Rs. 40,000 from the appellant. She later borrowed an additional Rs. 60,000, from which the appellant deducted Rs. 15,000 as interest. In 2017, the appellant verbally abused the respondent over the phone for failing to repay the loan. On one occasion, the appellant visited the shop of the respondent’s husband. Despite the husband’s request for more time to arrange the money, the appellant abused him and threatened to abduct the respondent’s daughter. The appellant had also obtained cheques from the respondent and issued a legal notice when one was dishonoured. The respondent alleges that her husband took his own life due to the threats and tension caused by the appellant’s actions.

Legal issues

Whether the appellant instigated the deceased to commit suicide?

Legal provisions

  1. Section 306 of Indian Penal Code.
  2. Section 107 of Indian Penal Code.
  3. Section 138 of Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881

Contentions by the Appellant:

The learned counsel for appellant submitted that the deceased was under tension due to his inability to repay the loan borrowed by his wife. The allegations in the complaint and suicide note do not constitute an offence under Section 306 of the IPC.


Contentions by the Respondent:

The learned counsel for respondent submitted that the allegations in the suicide note are sufficient to make out a prima facie case against the appellants. The question of whether an offence under Section 306 is made out should be decided only after evidence is adduced.

Judgment and Analysis:

The Supreme Court, in its wisdom, sided with the appellants and quashed the proceedings. The Court emphasized that for abetment of suicide, there must be instigation that is intended to push the deceased to a position where they have no choice but to commit suicide. Importantly, such instigation must be in close proximity to the act of committing suicide. The Court noted that the alleged incident of threats and assault occurred more than two weeks before the suicide. There were no allegations of any actions by the appellants close to the date of the suicide. The Court found no evidence of the necessary mental element (mens rea) to instigate the deceased to commit suicide. The Court observed that there were no allegations of the appellants meeting or speaking to the deceased or his wife after the initial incident on June 15, 2017. Interestingly, the Court noted that in his suicide note, the deceased had blamed his wife for their troubles due to her “bad habits.”

This judgment provides clarification on what constitutes abetment of suicide under Indian law. It notes that mere demands for repayment of a loan, even if accompanied by abusive language or assault, do not automatically amount to abetment of suicide. There must be a clear and proximate link between the alleged instigation and the act of suicide. Courts should be cautious in proceeding with abetment of suicide charges where the alleged acts are not closely connected in time to the suicide.


The Supreme Court’s decision in Mohit Singhal v. State of Uttarakhand serves as a reminder of the high bar for proving abetment of suicide. While the law must protect vulnerable individuals, it must also safeguard against misuse. This judgment strikes a balance by emphasizing the need for clear evidence of instigation closely linked to the act of suicide.

Reviewed by Maria Therese Syriac.

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