3-Judge Bench of Supreme Court held that, for IPC 306 to be made out, necessary ingredients must be satisfied.
From Para 6, Learn the art and craft of Trail Courts in India, assuming certain sections apply to accused in the face of no direct evidence. Some of them are fit-for-nothing fellows…
6. The Trial Court then posed a question to itself as to why a young lady with two small children would commit suicide unless she has been pushed to do so, bythe circumstances in the matrimonial home. It was then observed that the expectation of a married woman will be love and affection and financial security at thehands of her husband and if her hopes are frustrated by the act or by wilful negligence of the husband, it would constitute abetment within the meaning of section107 IPC, warranting conviction under section 306 IPC. With such reasoning, the Trial Court concluded that Shinder Kaur committed suicide when her hopes were frustrated by the act of her husband or alternatively, by his wilful neglect. Thus, the Court itself wasuncertain on the nature of the act to be attributed to the appellant. Moreover, even while noting that no direct evidence of cruelty against the husband and thein-laws is available, the learned Court assumed that section 306 IPC can be applied against the appellant. With such conjecture, while acquitting all threeaccused of the charged crime under section 304B and 498A of IPC, the husband was convicted under section 306 IPC.
From Para 11, Rebutting the callous nature in which Trial Court used conjectures to lay conviction
11. Insofar as the possible reason for a young married lady with two minor children committing suicide, in the absence of evidence, conjectures cannot be drawn that she was pushed to take her life, by the circumstances and atmosphere in the matrimonial home. What might have been the level of expectation of the deceased from her husband and in-laws and the degree of her frustration, if any, is not found through any evidence on record. More significantly, wilful negligence by the husband could not be shown by the prosecution.
Then from Para 15,
15. As in all crimes, mens rea has to be established. To prove the offence of abetment, as specified under Sec 107 of the IPC, the state of mind to commit a particular crime must be visible, to determine the culpability. In order to prove mens rea, there has to be something on record to establish or show that the appellant herein had a guilty mind and in furtherance of that state of mind, abetted the suicide of the deceased. The ingredient of mens rea cannot be assumed to be ostensibly present but has to be visible and conspicuous. However, what transpires in the present matter is that both the Trial Court as well as the High Court never examined whether appellant had the mens rea for the crime, he is held to have committed. The conviction of Appellant by the Trial Court as well as the High Court on the theory that the woman with two young kids might have committed suicide, possibly
because of the harassment faced by her in the matrimonial house, is not at all borne out by the evidence in the case. Testimonies of the PWs do not
show that the wife was unhappy because of the appellant and she was forced to take such a step on his account.
From Para 19, Supreme Court declared that Trail Court and High Court speculated. How horrible !!!
Gurcharan Singh vs State of Punjab on 1 Oct 2020
19. Proceeding with the above understanding of the law and applying the ratios to the facts in the present case, what is apparent is that no overt act or illegal omission is seen from the appellant’s side, in taking due care of his deceased wife. The evidence also does not indicate that the deceased faced persistent harassment from her husband. Nothing to this effect is testified by the parents or any of the other prosecution witnesses. The Trial Court and the High Court speculated on the unnatural death and without any evidence concluded only through conjectures, that the appellant is guilty of abetting the suicide of his wife.
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