‘Merely telling one to go and die not abetment to suicide’
Merely shouting in anger and asking a person, ‘Why do you live? Go and die,’ would not be ground enough to charge a person with abetment to suicide, ruled the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court.
Justice PN Prakash, quashing the conviction of a man whose wife committed suicide after killing her two children, said in order to bring the case under the purview of IPC 306 (abetment to suicide), the person said to have abetted the suicide ‘must have played an act of instigation or by doing certain act to facilitate the commission of suicide’.
The act of abetment must be proved and established by the prosecution, the judge said, allowing the appeal by Arokiasamy, who had challenged his conviction and the 10 years rigorous imprisonment awarded to him for abetting the suicide by a lower court.
Quoting a Supreme Court ruling, the judge said, ‘Even if we accept the prosecution story that the appellant did tell the deceased ‘to go and die’, that itself does not constitute ingredient of instigation.’
Besides, words uttered in a quarrel or in a spur of the moment could not be taken as to be uttered with mens rea (criminal intent), the judge held.
Arokiasamy had been convicted by the assistant district and Sessions Court of Tuticorin in October 2002 for allegedly telling his wife in the midst of a quarrel, ‘Why do you live? Go and die’.
Justice Prakash said the entire case was tried based upon the evidentiary value of a letter written by his 10-year old daughter, before her death, to her maternal uncle. The girl’s letter was not sent for handwriting verification.
The judge said it ‘looked artificial for a 10-year old girl cataloguing the reasons for ending her life. I am unable to fathom as to how a 10-year-old girl would have the desire to commit suicide along with her mother and sibling and in anticipation of which she would leave such a passionate suicide note,’ he said.