Mens rea and Intention are two crucial elements to invoke the provision of Section 306 of IPC(abetment of suicide): Gujarat High Court quashes charges against the applicants

Ashwinbhai Mansukhbhai vs State Of Gujarat

Bench: Honourable Justice Ilesh J. Vora


JUDGMENT DATED: 24/05/2023


In the instant case, the deceased Ashok Chavda, employee of Rajkot Municipal Corporation committed suicide by hanging himself in Hotel Miracle at Ahmedabad. He was recruited as a labourer and work charge employee. On 10.11.2012, deceased along with other employees of the same cadre were transferred from Malaria branch to Drainage branch at Bedinaka, Rajkot. The applicant – Chirag Pandya being a City Engineer of RMC was in control and management of Drainage Department of Rajkot, whereas, the other applicants – Jitendrasinh Zala and Ashvin Kanjaria were serving on the post of Dy. Engineer and Asst. Electrical Engineer, RMC respectively. The deceased person was dissatisfied with his transfer posting and was irregular in attending the office. After resuming the duty at the drainage branch, he remained absent for 72 days.

He committed suicide on 4.7.2012. Before the incident of suicide, he wrote a letter addressed to Police Commissioner, Rajkot, alleging therein that the applicants intentionally insulted and intimidated him in front of other employees with an intent to humiliate and harass him as he belongs to a scheduled caste

After the suicide, the father of the deceased lodged an FIR against the applicants to get them behind bars. In view of the registration of the offence, the applicants have approached this Court, seeking quashing of the FIR mainly on the ground that the applicants hold higher posts in the establishment of Rajkot Municipal Corporation and any act done in discharge of their legal duty without there being any intention on their part to abet the commission of suicide by class IV employee, no ingredients of Section 306 of Indian Penal Code are satisfied. Section 306 deals with abetment of suicide.

The advocate for the applicants contended that the plain reading of the FIR and the suicide notes cannot satisfy the ingredients required to convict a person on the basis of section 306.

The advocate for the respondent held that the allegations levelled in the FIR and facts disclosed in the suicide notes, constitute a cognizable offence and based on this, the FIR was registered and still investigation is not completed due to interim order passed by this Court. Thus, it was urged that at this stage, the criminal proceedings cannot be quashed when the allegations made in the FIR and suicide notes disclosed the commission of offence


The Court after hearing the contentions of both the parties held that there is no allegation that the deceased was continuous harassed and insulted deliberately without justifiable cause or reason. A simple act of issuing notice or memo for the irregular attendance of the deceased, for which he was otherwise duty bound to serve the department, would definitely not amount to abetment of things as defined under Section 107 of Indian Penal Code.

Thus, considering the aforesaid aspects as discussed hereinabove, the applicants had no intention to drive the deceased to commit suicide and they could not anticipate the same. To bring home the applicants for the charge under Section 306 of Indian Penal Code, the intention and mens rea are main ingredients of the offence of abetment and they are lacking in the present case.

For these reasons, the Court was confident that a case of abetment of suicide fails to sustain and hence quashed the charges against the applicants


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The High Court of Bombay passed a judgement on 04 May 2023 on a case involving allegations of culpable homicide and negligence at a construction site. The case of PINKESH DHIRAJ PATEL & ANR. VS. THE STATE OF MAHARASHTRA & ANR. IN CRIMINAL WRIT PETITION NO. 2879 OF 2022 which was passed by the division bench comprising of HONOURABLE SHRI JUSTICE SUNIL B. SHUKRE & HONOURABLE SHRI JUSTICE M.M. SATHAYE. The petitioners challenged the charge-sheet filed against them, arguing that the offense of culpable homicide was not applicable in their situation.


The case revolves around a charge-sheet filed against the petitioners under Section 304 read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code. The petitioners contended that they should not be charged with culpable homicide as defined by Section 299 of the Indian Penal Code. They argued that the allegations made in the First Information Report (FIR) did not demonstrate any intention to cause death or inflict bodily injury likely to cause death, which are essential elements for culpable homicide.

The petitioners’ defence focused on the absence of overt acts on their part that would meet the requirements for culpable homicide. They emphasized that the FIR did not establish any criminal intention or knowledge on their part. They referred to a previous legal precedent, the case of Shantibhai J. Vaghela and Anr. v. State of Gujarat, to support their argument.

The respondent-state, represented by the learned Additional Public Prosecutor (APP), countered the petitioners’ claims. They argued that the specific allegations against the petitioners indicated their negligence in providing proper safety measures at the construction site. The respondent’s counsel highlighted that the tragic death occurred due to the petitioners’ failure to install safety belts and leaving dangerously exposed vertical iron bars in the column. They contended that the act of negligence led to the unfortunate incident, and it would be a matter for trial to determine if there was any intention on the part of the accused to cause a fatal injury.


Section 304 of the IPC: Deals with culpable homicide not amounting to murder, punishing those who cause death without fulfilling the criteria for murder.

Section 34 of the IPC: Holds individuals jointly liable for a criminal act when committed in furtherance of a common intention.

Section 299 of the IPC: Defines culpable homicide, involving the intentional causing of death or bodily injury likely to cause death.

Section 227 of the CrPC: Empowers the Sessions Court to discharge the accused if there is insufficient ground for proceeding with the case, requiring recording of reasons for the decision.


The court thoroughly analysed the arguments presented by both parties and referred to Section 227 of the Criminal Procedure Code. Section 227 stipulates that if, after considering the case record and the submissions of the accused and prosecution, the judge finds no sufficient grounds for proceeding against the accused, they may be discharged.

The court acknowledged the difference between what constitutes a sufficient ground for proceeding against the accused in a sessions trial and what constitutes the offense itself. It emphasized that the possibility of the accused’s acquittal does not negate the existence of sufficient grounds for proceeding.

In its ruling, the court recognized two aspects of the case: an omission on the part of the petitioners and an overt act. While the omission did not attract the offense of culpable homicide, the court found that the petitioners’ act of leaving dangerously exposed vertical iron bars, which were being used during construction work, could be considered an overt act.

The court concluded that prima facie evidence of an overt act, coupled with the knowledge of the potential harm it could cause, provided sufficient grounds for proceeding further with the criminal trial against the petitioners. It clarified that the final determination of the petitioners’ guilt or innocence would be a matter for trial.

Additionally, the court dismissed the documents presented by the petitioners, which allegedly showed the Labour Commissioner’s adjudication on the incident. It clarified that compensation granted by the Labour Commissioner does not equate to a finding of accidental death without criminal intention or knowledge.

Considering the analysis and considerations, the court dismissed the petition and held that there were sufficient grounds for proceeding with the criminal trial against the petitioners.

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