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Karnataka High Court: Accused Discharged in Suicide Abetment Case Due to Insufficient Evidence

Case title: ONKARAPPA G H & ORS VS THE STATE OF KARNATAKA

Case no.: CRIMINAL REVISION PETITION NO. 141 OF 2024

Dated on: 21st may 2024

Quorum: HON’BLE MR JUSTICE S RACHAIAH

FACTS OF THE CASE

The case of the prosecution is that the deceased Shruthi was working as a maid in the house of Sri. G.H. Omkarappa and Smt. Anusuyamma at Shivamogga. The deceased was staying with them since two years. The complainant being a mother of the deceased-Shruthi used to visit the house where Shruthi was working often and she was enquiring about the welfare of her daughter. Such being the fact, she has received a message from the reliable source that her daughter committed suicide in the house of the accused around 2.00 pm. Immediately after receiving the said information, the complainant and others went to Shivamogga and learnt that the deceased Shruthi committed suicide inside the room and it was bolted from inside. It is further stated in the complaint that, the door was opened with the help of the localities in the presence of police. On opening the said room, the complainant found that her daughter was hanging from the ceiling fan and also noticed a chit said to have written by the deceased. Hence, she lodged a complaint. Upon the complaint, the jurisdictional police registered a case in Cr.No.207/2015 for the offence under Section 306 read with Section 34 of IPC. After conducting investigation submitted charge sheet. Being aggrieved by filing of the charge sheet, the petitioner herein filed an application under Section 227 of Code of Criminal Procedure Act (for short, ‘Cr.P.C.’). The said application came to be rejected by the Trial Court. Hence, this revision.

ISSUES

  • Whether the accused can be charged under Section 306 of the IPC for abetting suicide based on the evidence provided in the complaint and charge sheet.
  • Whether the contents of the complaint and charge sheet provide sufficient grounds to proceed against the accused and whether they disclose the necessary elements of instigation or harassment required for abetment of suicide.
  • Whether the Trial Court’s decision to reject the application for discharge was justified or if it amounted to an abuse of process of law.

LEGAL PROVISINS

Indian Penal Code (IPC), Section 306: Abetment of Suicide Section 306 of the IPC deals with the abetment of suicide. It states that 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 extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.

Indian Penal Code (IPC), Section 34: Acts Done by Several Persons in Furtherance of Common Intention Section 34 deals with acts done by several persons in furtherance of a common intention. It states that when a criminal act is done by several persons in furtherance of the common intention of all, each of such persons is liable for that act in the same manner as if it were done by him alone.

Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr.P.C.), Section 227: Discharge Section 227 of the Cr.P.C. provides the power to discharge. It states that if, upon consideration of the record of the case and the documents submitted therewith, and after hearing the submissions of the accused and the prosecution in this behalf, the Judge considers that there is not sufficient ground for proceeding against the accused, he shall discharge the accused and record his reasons for doing so.

CONTENTIONS OF THE APPELLANT

Arun Shyam, learned Senior Counsel for Sri. Suyog  Herele, learned counsel for the petitioner and Sri. Rahul Rai, learned High Court Government Pleader for the State. It is the submission of learned Senior Counsel that the findings of the Trial Court in rejecting the application for discharge is erroneous and against to the facts of the case. Hence, the same is liable to be set aside. It is further submitted that the contents of the charge sheet do not disclose the ingredients of Section 306 of IPC. In fact, the complainant in her complaint stated that she was visiting the house of the accused and she was enquiring about the welfare of her daughter. The averments of the complaint did not disclose either instigation or harassment to commit suicide. It is further submitted that a letter said to have been found in the room where the deceased committed suicide clearly discloses that, the deceased was loving a boy and she mentioned the phone numbers and narrated certain facts in it. However, the deceased mentioned in the end of the said letter, that accused are responsible for her suicide. That itself is not sufficient to attract the ingredients of instigation or abetment to commit suicide. Such being the fact, asking the petitioner to face the trial, certainly, amounts to an abuse of process of law. Therefore, the petition deserves to be allowed. Making such submissions, the learned Senior Counsel prays to allow the petition.

CONTENTIONS OF THE RESPONDENTS

The learned High Court Government Pleader vehemently justified the order of rejection passed by the Trial Court and submitted that as per the averments of the complaint, the deceased Shruthi was working in the house of the accused as a maid and she committed suicide in their house by leaving death note. The said death note contains some facts and the same are required to be proved during full-fledged trial. In case, if the petition is allowed, the facts remain unchallenged. Therefore, the petition deserves to be dismissed. Making such submission, the learned High Court Government Pleader prays to dismiss the petition. Having heard learned counsel for the respective parties and also after having perused the findings of the Trial Court, the Trial Court while rejecting the application opined that at the stage of framing of charges, the Court has to see only prima-facie material and further opined that the contents of the death note are required to be proved during trial. It is settled principles of law that in order to convict a person under Section 306 of IPC, there has to be a clear mens rea to commit the offence. Further, it also requires an active act or direct act which lead 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/she committed suicide.

 

COURT’S ANALYSIS AND JUDGEMENT

In the present case, either the averments of the complaint or averments of the charge sheet do not disclose neither mens-rea nor instigation. Even assuming that the contents of the death note are true, it can be inferred from the averments that the deceased was loving a boy and she mentioned the phone numbers and expressed her willingness to meet him and at the same time, she mentioned the reason for committing suicide. “Mere mentioning that the accused are responsible for committing suicide “, is not sufficient to attract the ingredients of abetment. Such being the facts, asking accused to face the trial, certainly would be considered as an abuse of process of law. Therefore, the petition deserves to be allowed. It is needless to say that the Trial Court while considering the application for discharge must satisfy as to whether the material placed in the charge sheet are sufficient to record the conviction. The Hon’ble Supreme Court time and again reiterated that the Trial Court shall not act as a post office between prosecution and investigating agency. Of course, the Trial Court while framing the charge must prima facie satisfy that the materials are sufficient to frame the charge. However, the said word “prima facie” would mean that, even if no other material is placed by the investigating agency, the conviction can be recorded based on the charge sheet materials. The Criminal Revision Petition is allowed. The order dated 18.12.2023 in S.C No.126/2023 passed by the Prl. District and Sessions Judge, Shivamogga, is hereby set aside. The petitioners are discharged for the offence punishable under Sections 306 read with Section 34 of IPC.

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Judgement Reviewed by – HARIRAGHAVA JP

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The FSL report cannot be read as evidence when samples aren’t drawn in compliance with S.52A: Supreme Court

Case Title : Mohammed Khalid and another versus The state of Telangana

Case No: Criminal Appeal No(s).1610 of 2023

Decided on: 10th November,2022.

Quorum: Judge Mehta

Facts of the case:

Mr.M.Srinavasa Rao, Inspector of Police received an information on 8th May,2009 regarding that the transportation of ganja by two persons from Sangareddy to Hyderabad in a Toyota Qualis Vehicle. It is alleged that three bundles of ganja weighing 80kgs found lying in the vehicle were seized. Both the persons were arrested and interrogated at the spot itself. Three samples weighing about 50 grams were drawn from each bundle and remaining muddamal ganja. Another sample was sent for investigation. After that charge sheet has filed on them. They sent for an appeal to high court. First time high court rejects and then after asking again for an appeal they will reconsider it. And they reinvestigate the case. Three samples were changed into 7 samples. That samples does not have any seals or identification marks .So they will not consider it as an evidence because it is not in a correct way.

Legal Provisions:

Section 20(b) of NDPS Act it deals with Narcotic drugs.

Section 313 of CrPC it deals that it questions the accused.

Section 374(2) of CrPC it deals that high court rejects judgement of trial court.

 Contentions:

They go to appeal in high court and the evidences which are produced by police are not under safe custody. Both the accused were caught red handed in the vehicle with drugs. When they investigated and they said that they are supplying for two persons.

Court Analysis and Judgement:

It passed to high court of state of Telangana on 10th November,2022.Trial court sentenced that each of them to undergo rigorous imprisonment for the period 10 years and to pay fine of 1 lakh each. The evidences are reconsidered. But the evidences are not sealed by the trail court. They didn’t even took permission from the court regarding changing the evidences as 3 bags to 7 bags. The evidences are not in safe custody. So they cannot consider these evidences for the case. Affirming the judgment of the trial court convicting and sentencing the accused appellants for the charge under Section 8(c)read with 20(b)(ii)(c) of the NDPS Act is hereby quashed and set aside. The appellants are acquitted of all the charges. They are in custody and shall be released forthwith, if not wanted in any other case. The appeals are accordingly allowed.

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Judgement Analysis Written by – K. Immey Grace

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