Read Order: Safi @ Somanath Sahu v. State of Odisha

Tulip Kanth 

Cuttack, August 18, 2021 : The Orissa High Court has granted bail to a man who was suspected to be in a  relationship with a woman, now deceased, and was alleged to have abetted her suicide.

A bench of Justice S.K. Panigrahi extensively discussed the law on Bail and Section 306 of the Indian Penal Code. It was opined that the Court has to keep in mind the nature of accusations, nature of evidence in support thereof, severity of the punishment which conviction will entail, character of the accused, circumstances which are peculiar to the accused involved in that crime when considering the question of bail.

The FIR in question was filed by the father of the deceased stating that his daughter had left her home and after three days her body was found hanging from a tree on a river bank. During the course of investigation, a phone was recovered, belonging to the deceased, from which it was found that three numbers were frequently contacted. 

One of the three numbers belonged to the present petitioner. Thereafter, the petitioner was arrested and forwarded to judicial custody.

The High Court clarified that although some witnesses suggested a love relationship between the petitioner and the deceased, the nature of evidence that had been forthcoming did not meet the standards required to prove that the petitioner abetted the suicide of the accused. 

The Bench observed that the fact as to what degree of intimacy and affinity the petitioner and deceased shared is a matter that can only be unearthed at the stage of trial and so, at this stage, for the purpose of this application the same does not need to be gone into.

The Court also noted that there was a complete lack of any proof showcasing how or which acts of the petitioner led him to allegedly commit the offence of abetting the deceased’s suicide.

“The offence of abetment to suicide under Section 306 of IPC has twin essential ingredients: (i) a person commits suicide (ii) such suicide was abetted by the accused. This offence involves a mental process of instigating a person or intentionally aiding a person in doing of a thing. To hold a person liable for abetting suicide, active role is required which can be described as instigating or aiding in doing thing,” added the Bench.

The High Court expounded that in order to prove that the accused abetted commission of suicide by a person, it has to be established that: (i) the accused kept on irritating or annoying the deceased by words, deeds or wilful omission or conduct which may even be a wilful silence until the deceased reacted or pushed or forced the deceased by his deeds, words or wilful omission or conduct to make the deceased move forward more quickly in a forward direction; and (ii) that the accused had the intention to provoke, urge or encourage the deceased to commit suicide while acting in the manner noted above.

A recent decision of the Apex Court in Dataram Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh was also cited by the Bench wherein it was held that the freedom of an individual cannot be curtailed for indefinite period, especially when his/her guilt is yet to be proved. 

The Court also referred to another judgment of the Madras High Court in Manikandan v. State wherein the example of a lover committing suicide due to love failure was given and it was observed that sometimes, the decision to commit suicide might be taken by the victim himself/herself, unaccompanied by any act or instigation etc. on the part of the accused.

Deciding the matter, the Bench directed the petitioner to be released on bail with imposition of certain stringent terms and conditions as deemed fit and proper. It was also clarified that the Trial Court shall proceed with a fair trial uninfluenced by any of the prima facie observations made in this order.

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