Words said in a fit of rage do not amount to abetment of suicide: Supreme Court.



DECIDED ON: 1.03.2024



The appellant has filed a special leave petition against the judgment passed by the trial court, and the high court dismissed the criminal revision petition. The trial court had convicted the appellant under section 306 of the IPC, sentencing him to undergo rigorous imprisonment for three years. It imposed a fine of Rs. 2000. If the appellant fails to pay the fine, he shall undergo strict punishment for four months.

The appellant was a tenant living in the deceased’s house. However, on the day of the incident, he was residing elsewhere since the term of his tenant agreement had ended. On 5.7.2000, when the deceased was returning home after dropping her sister’s kids at school, she saw the appellant waiting for her near Canara Bank. The appellant eve teased her, asking her to marry him. When the deceased did not respond, the appellant threatened to destroy her sister’s family, outraging their modesty and causing death. Upon arrival at the house, the deceased informed her sisters of the same and ingested poison. The neighbours saw the deceased lying on the floor in pain from the window and rushed to help. They opened the house door, and during this time, one of her sisters had also arrived with her husband. The deceased was taken to Nirmala Devi Hospital, after which she was relocated to Mission Hospital. She died on 06.07.2000 at 7:30 pm. Raju, the dead’s father, lodged an FIR on 07.07.2000 at 6:30 pm, alleging the appellant was liable for his daughter’s death. During the investigation, post-mortem was done, and the viscera of the deceased was sent for chemical analysis to the Forensic Science Laboratory, Bangalore. The doctor who did the examination stated that the death was caused by respiratory failure due to the consumption of a substance having Organophosphate. After the investigation, the police submitted the chargesheet, where the appellant was the accused.

The prosecution examined eleven witnesses and produced eleven documents as exhibits. The trial court gave its verdict after hearing both sides. The prosecution, beyond any reasonable doubt, had proved that the appellant was responsible for abetting the suicide of the deceased. Hence, the trial court convicted the appellant. As previously stated, the appellant had filed an appeal in the High Court of Karnataka, which upheld the judgement passed by the trial court and dismissed the petition. Following that, the aggrieved filed a special leave petition. The appellant was also granted bail contingent on the trial court’s satisfaction.


Section 107 of the IPC deals with abetment of a thing.

Section 306 of the IPC deals with abetment of suicide.

Section 309 of the IPC deals with attempt to commit suicide.

Section 161 of the CRPC deals with examination of witnesses by police.

Section 313 of the CRPC deals with power to examine the accused.

Section 374 of the CRPC deals with appeals from convictions.


The counsel for the appellant contends that the evidence produced by the prosecution has not been interpreted and analysed correctly since it does not aid the appellant’s conviction under section 306 of the Indian Penal Court. There are inconsistencies in the witness statements and the evidences produced by the prosecution which cannot be overlooked. It can be inferred that no case of instigation, abetment or conspiracy can be drawn against the appellant in this scenario.

The statements made by Prosecution Witness (PW) No. 1, 2, 3, 4 and 12 are highly unreliable. The gaps in their testimony prove that they have improved and changed their story. The counsel for the appellant also revealed that the front of the right wrist of the deceased had a partially healed superficial linear incised injury. The prosecution has not explained the same. Since the injury was only partially recovered, it suggests it happened before the appellant teased her. This shows the appellant did not instigate her suicidal nature, and it might be something else. Although the deceased was hospitalised on 05.07.2000, the FIR was only lodged on 07.07.2000 at 6:30 pm. Additionally, the deceased had not told anyone about the appellant allegedly harassing her. Moreover, the appellant had gotten married two months before the incident took place so there was no reason for him to threaten, he was deceased making the accuracy of the prosecution’s case questionable.



The respondent asserts that the appellant has been convicted rightfully. The prosecution has proved his liability without any reasonable doubt before the trial court. Even the high court has upheld the impugned order. Hence, the question of credibility does not arise. There is no such rule in any legislation that a conviction cannot be made on the statements given by the family members. A simple reading of the witness statements of PW 1, 2 and 4 which is further substantiated by the testimony of PW 13 the doctor will point towards the appellant’s conviction. Hence, there is no substance in the case presented by the appellant.



The Court has thoroughly analysed the evidence in this case, and the revelations have been astounding. It has only served to weaken the case of the prosecution. The accused had lived on the ground floor of his house for five years till the tenancy period was over. The deceased used to take the children of Raju’s other daughter to school daily. During that time, the accused used to ask for her hand in marriage and, upon her refusal, threatened to murder her family. Upon further examination of PW 1, 05.07.2000 was corrected to 06.07.2000. This very day, the accused had threatened to pour acid on the deceased and her sisters and murder them. Raju was informed about the accused’s marital status only after the death of his daughter. He was unaware of his whereabouts after he left his house.

Meena, PW 2, is the deceased’s sister residing with her. She stated that she saw her father in the hospital the next day at around 5:00 pm. Additionally, her father resided with some other woman outside marriage. Meena’s testimony contradicts the claims made by her father about living in the same house and reaching the hospital by 1 pm. The behaviour of Raju, whose daughter had been admitted to the hospital because of the consumption of poison, is very abnormal.

According to PW 4, Shantha, the second daughter of Raju, the deceased, had telephoned her and told them that she had consumed poison because of the incident that took place earlier that day. They rushed to her residence and took her to the hospital with the help of neighbours who were already there. This again contradicts PW 1’s statement that he had come home at 10 am and received the news that his daughter had already been taken to the hospital. PW 8 and 9, who were amongst the neighbours who saw the deceased in an unconscious state through the window while the telephone was ringing, turned out to be hostile witnesses. Only PW 8 and 9 were examined among all the neighbours present, and the reasons for not examining the others are unknown. Both the neighbours turned out to be hostile witnesses, stating that they didn’t know the reason behind the girl’s death. They also stated that the police hadn’t recorded their statements. It is also pertinent to note that if the telephone receiver hung, how could it keep ringing? In addition to the inconsistencies and loopholes that have already dented the prosecution case, the court stated that the credibility of the evidence produced cannot be trusted.

The court referred to the case M. Mohan v. State[1] to look into the meaning of suicide. In this case, it was observed that since “Sui” means self and “cide” means killing, a clear inference can be drawn that suicide means self-killing. In the case of Ramesh Kumar v. State of Chhattisgarh[2], it was held that instigation refers to an act of provocation and encouragement. When someone is provoked to perform an act, it is instigation. It is immaterial whether the words are spoken or unspoken. The accused’s act must indicate the resultant circumstance or situation. However, words said in a rage will not be considered as instigation.

Thus, the court, in this case, has laid down essentials that need to be proved to convict an accused for the offence of abetment of suicide. They are as follows:

  • the accused constantly irritates and annoys the deceased with spoken words, actions, deliberate omissions and deliberate silence to provoke and compel the deceased to take action swiftly
  • it is very important to establish mens rea of the accused in doing the aforementioned acts, which goes hand in hand with instigation.

Another point which is pertinent to note is that when a person dies by the consumption of poison, traces of poison must be discovered in such cases. PW 13 testified that there were injection marks on the front of both elbows of the deceased, including a partially healed wound on the wrist of the deceased. When he received the final chemical analysis, he opined that the death was caused by respiratory failure due to the consumption of the compound organophosphate. In the instant case, the doctors who treated the deceased were not called upon by the court for their testimony. It would have been crucial since they could have given information regarding the compound’s amount and way of consumption. No evidence pertaining to the bottle or the container from which the deceased had consumed poison or any syringe or needle used to inject was retrieved by the police.  

The court said that there can be a plethora of reasons as to why a person can commit suicide. It can be due to societal pressures or some mental illness. Hence, suicide is not always abetted. In the present case, the appellant cannot be convicted of abetment to suicide when suicide itself has not been proven. Considering the defaults in the prosecution case, the Hon’ble Court quashed the order given by the trial court and subsequently upheld by the High Court. The appellant’s conviction under section 306 has been set aside, hereby acquitting him of all the charges. The appellant is already out on bail, so the bail bonds shall no longer be in effect.

[1] 1 (2011) 3 SCC 626

[2] (2001) 9 SCC 618

Judgement Written by-Rashi Hora

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