Naresh Kumar vs State Of Haryana 2024 INSC 149 :: [2024] 2 S.C.R. 830 – S 306 IPC – Abetment Of Suicide – S 113A Evidence Act- Presumption

Indian Penal Code, 1860; Section 306 – Indian Evidence Act, 1872; Section 113A – The mere fact that the deceased committed suicide within a period of seven years of her marriage, the presumption under Section 113A of the Evidence Act would not automatically apply – Mere fact of suicide within seven years of marriage, one should not jump to the conclusion of abetment unless cruelty was proved. The court has the discretion to raise or not to raise the presumption, because of the words ‘may presume’. It must take into account all the circumstances of the case which is an additional safeguard – The court should be extremely careful in assessing evidence under section 113A for finding out if cruelty was meted out. If it transpires that a victim committing suicide was hyper sensitive to ordinary petulance, discord and differences in domestic life quite common to the society to which the victim belonged and such petulance, discord and differences were not expected to induce a similarly circumstanced individual in a given society to commit suicide, the conscience of the Court would not be satisfied for holding that the accused charged of abetting the offence of suicide was guilty – In the absence of any cogent evidence of harassment or cruelty, an accused cannot be held guilty for the offence under Section 306 of IPC by raising presumption under Section 113A – Referred to Lakhjit Singh v. State of Punjab, 1994 Suppl (1) SCC 173, Pawan Kumar v. State of Haryana, 1998(3) SCC 309, and Smt. Shanti v. State of Haryana, 1991(1) SCC 371. (Para 28-33)

Indian Penal Code, 1860; Section 306 – Mere demand of money from the wife or her parents for running a business without anything more would not constitute cruelty or harassment. (Para 11)

Indian Penal Code, 1860; Section 306 – in order to convict a person under Section 306 of the IPC there has to be a clear mens rea to commit the offence. Mere harassment is not sufficient to hold an accused guilty of abetting the commission of suicide. It also requires an active act or direct act which led the deceased to commit suicide. The ingredient of mens rea cannot be assumed to be ostensibly present but has to be visible and conspicuous-In the case of accusation for abetment of suicide, the court should look for cogent and convincing proof of the act of incitement to the commission of suicide and such an offending action should be proximate to the time of occurrence. Appreciation of evidence in criminal matters is a tough task and when it comes to appreciating the evidence in cases of abetment of suicide punishable under Section 306 of the IPC, it is more arduous. The court must remain 15 very careful and vigilant in applying the correct principles of law governing the subject of abetment of suicide while appreciating the evidence on record. Otherwise it may give an impression that the conviction is not legal but rather moral. (Para 22, 34)

Indian Evidence Act, 1872; Section 113A– the term ‘the Court may presume having regard to all other circumstances of the case that such suicide had been abetted by her husband’ would indicate that the presumption is discretionary, unlike the presumption under Section 113B of the Evidence Act, which is mandatory. Therefore, before the presumption under Section 113A is raised, the prosecution must show evidence of cruelty or incessant harassment in that regard. (Para 29)

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