Common Divorces Do Not Count As Aiding Suicide Without Additional “Instigation” :Kerala High Court

Case Title:- Dr.Radhika Kapahtia Versus State of Kerala and others

Case No:- CRL.MC No.3412 of 2021

Decided on :- 20th March,2024

Quorum:- Bechu Kurian Thomas, Judge.

Facts of the case:-

Both the petitioner and her spouse were specialists in Kochi’s Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences Hospital. The petitioner’s spouse used an injection to end his life on September 11, 2018 with toxins. The spouse is said to have taken the drastic action due to marital conflict. At first, an offense for unnatural death was reported under section 174 Cr.P.C.; however, the legislation was later changed to section 306 IPC, and the petitioner was charged with aiding and abetting suicide. The final report, submitted on June 15, 2020, said it was claimed that the wife’s exposure to specific personal recordings of her husband with his ex-girlfriend after their marriage caused marital strife. The arguments and squabbles had a severe emotional toll on the husband, which led to his suicide and the leave of two suicide notes. The accused is of encouraging the suicide by allegedly harassing her husband on a regular basis and disparaging the deceased. The petitioner’s husband committed suicide on September 11, 2018, although the two purported suicide letters are dated July 14, 2018, and August 28, 2018. According to the prosecution, the two notes provide enough proof of assistance. For the purposes of this action, it is assumed that the notes are suicide notes even though they were written approximately 58 days and 14 days respectively, before the date of suicide. It was acknowledged that the petitioner’s husband had booked a room in an Ernakulam hotel, injected himself with poison and killed himself. The petitioner was not in the room or in the surrounding area. Reading the afore mentioned two suicide letters simply reveals that the pair frequently argued. There is absolutely no mention of the petitioner doing anything to encourage or assist her spouse in ending his life. The letters suggest that some of their premarital events have plagued them resulting in arguments and squabbles between them. Nothing suggests that the accused’s actions and her husband’s suicide were related in any way let alone that they were instigated by one another.

Petitioner Contentions:-

Sri. C.C. Thomas, the learned Senior Counsel assisted by Adv. Nireesh Mathew, learned counsel for the petitioner contended that the prosecution allegations even if admitted would not make out the offence under section 306 IPC and hence the proceedings are liable to be quashed. It was contended that the alleged suicide notes recovered did not indicate any act done by the petitioner falling within the purview of abetment under law. The learned Senior Counsel argued that merely because one of the parties to a marriage decided to end his life even if it be on account of quarrel between the couple. The same cannot mulct the spouse with the offence of abetment of Suicide.

Respondent Contentions:-

Sri. Joseph Kodianthara, learned Senior Counsel assisted by Adv. Aashique Akthar Hajjigothi on behalf of the second respondent submitted that the contentions now raised before this court are matters which require appreciation of evidence and hence the same cannot be interfered with under section 482 Cr.P.C. The learned Senior Counsel referred to the decision in Mahendra K.C. v. State of Karnataka and Another (2022) 2 SCC 129 and submitted that the repeated and continued acts of mental cruelty and torture could amount to abetment. It was also submitted that it is too premature a stage for this court to interfere.

Court Analysis and Judgement:-

In the instant case, the suicide notes were written weeks before the act of suicide and not in close proximity to the date of suicide. There is no reference to any instigation by the accused to prompt the deceased to commit suicide. A reading of the two suicide notes only indicates that the deceased felt the need to commit suicide. There is a death of material in the final report or the further final report, which can indicate any intention on the part of the accused to goad the deceased to commit suicide. Other than ordinary quarrels between the spouses, no overt acts have been allegedly committed by the accused to stimulate or prod the deceased to commit suicide. By no stretch of imagination can the alleged acts of the accused, in the instant case, amount to instigation to commit suicide. Taking into reckoning the above circumstances, this Court is satisfied that the admitted allegations in the final report and in the further final report do not constitute the ingredients of the offence of Section 306 IPC and the prosecution of the petitioner, who is a Medical doctor, is an abuse of the process of court. Hence all further proceedings in C.P. No.9/2021 on the files of Judicial First Class Magistrate’s Court-II, Ernakulam arising Out of Crime No.1936/2018 of the Ernakulam Central Police Station are hereby quashed. This criminal miscellaneous case is allowed as above.

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Judgement Analysis Written by – K.Immey Grace

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