Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh High Court recently held that mere sarcastic remarks or harassment of wife by husband and in-laws due to matrimonial disputes would not attract the offence of “abetment of suicide” under Section 306 of Ranbir Penal Code (RPC).
The bench comprising Justice Rajesh Sekhri noted that intentional aid and active participation of the abettor must be established to constitute an offence of abetment of suicide.
Justice Sekhri stated that there may be instances of matrimonial discord that merely reflect the wear and tear of married life, and would not be an abetment of suicide.
The order reads, “There may be various instances of matrimonial discord between husband and wife and at times wife being constantly taunted and subjected to sarcastic remarks in the house of her in-laws may be driven to commit suicide. However, such instances are normal wear and tear of a matrimonial life. In my opinion mere harassment of a wife by her husband or in-laws due to matrimonial discord or sarcastic remarks perse does not attract Section 306 of RPC (abetment of suicide).”
The bench was hearing an appeal filed by the State against the trial court judgment acquitting the husband of charges under Section 306 (abetment of suicide) and Section 498-A (husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty) of the RPC.
The High Court was focusing on the husband’s role in instigating, engaging in a conspiracy or intentionally aiding the victim to commit suicide.
The wife died by suicide by dousing kerosene and setting herself ablaze. As per the details, the incident occurred after the wife called the husband at midnight and he refused her request to come to a specific place. The husband allegedly told the wife to go back to her place.
The victim on her way to the hospital stated that she took this extreme step because of her husband. However, the Court noted that there was nothing to indicate that the husband anticipated that his wife would die by suicide owing to his remarks.
“It is evident from the utterance of the respondent that there was neither any intention on his part nor any positive act taken by him to instigate the victim or to aid her in the commission of suicide. It appears that his intention was only to get rid of the victim and he could not have thought of any consequences that his wife would be go and commit suicide due to such utterances,” the High Court bench noted.
The bench noted that the prosecution’s submissions indicated that the victim was “hypersensitive to ordinary petulance of matrimonial life”.
While noting that the respondent never intended or participated to abet the victim’s suicide, the bench dismissed the appeal.