Jammu & Kashmir High Court
Bansi Lal vs State Of J. And K. on 12 May, 2000
Equivalent citations: 2001 CriLJ 3267
Author: T Doabia
Bench: T Doabia

JUDGMENT T.S. Doabia, J.

1. On 11th of September, 1991 at about 1.45 p.m. one Santosh Kumari aged about 19 years set herself ablaze by sprinkling kerosene oil on her person. She was found to be in the kitchen of her house. She suffered serious injuries. She was taken to hospital at Arnas. Police reached in the hospital. Her dying declaration was recorded. This is EXP-RD. The dying declaration when rendered in English this reads as under :-

Dying declaration of Santosh Kumari D/o. Shri Krishan Singh R/o. Radoo, aged 19 years, occupation House wife, time 14.15 hours dated 11-9-1991.

On enquiry stated that I have put myself on fire because all the family members of Nanda family, whether male or female are stating that I am of a depraved character. By sprinkling kerosene oil I have set myself on fire. I could not bear the taunts. I have set myself on fire in the room. My father was called in the morning and he was being told that his daughter is of a depraved character. They resort to abuses daily. Some one half (hour) or 45 minutes before, I have set myself on fire, after getting disgusted, so that I may die. When I set myself on fire, at that time my mother, daddy and sisters all were present in the home.


                      EX. M.IST., ARNAS
DATED 13-11-92

2. The perusal of the dying declaration makes it apparent that the deceased set herself ablaze because the male and female members of Bansi Lal’s family used to describe her as an ill-character lady. She could not tolerate these false imputation. In the morning of the ill-fated day, Bansi Lal and others called her father and told him that the deceased is not of good character. This was breaking point. Deceased was unable to tolerate this. She committed suicide. The mother and father of the deceased appeared in the witness box. The perusal of their statements brings out that aspersion were made vis-a-vis the character of the deceased. She was unable to tolerate. She committed suicide.

3. The trial Court came to the conclusion that so far as Bansi Lal is concerned, a case under Section 306 of the Penal Code was made out. However taking into consideration his age instead of directing him to undergo jail sentence a fine of Rs. 7,000/-was imposed. It is this order which is subject-matter of challenge in this appeal.

4. Legal position in this regard be noticed.

5. The prosecution case was that the mother, aunt and cousin of the deceased had stated that there was demand of dowry and consequential ill-treatment of the deceased by her in-laws. In the letters which were written by the deceased to her parents, she never indicated that she was ever tortured or humiliated on account of dowry demand. It was held that these allegations would not fall within the parameters of Section 306 of the Penal Code. State of Punjab v. Gurdip Singh, 1996 (7) SCC 163.

6. The allegations were that the deceased was subjected to cruelty and harassment by her husband, mother-in-law and sister-in-law. There was dowry demand. Mother-in-law gave her a drati blow. This caused an injury on the forehead of the deceased. The deceased committed suicide on the same day by consuming naphthalene balls. It was observed that the offence would not be covered by Section 306 or by Section 498-A of the Penal Code. State of H.P. v. Nikku Ram (1995) 6 SCC 219 : (1995 Cri LJ 4184).

7. During a quarrel, the appellant allegedly remarked that she can go and die. The deceased committed suicide. It was held that suicide could not be attributed to the words uttered by the appellant. Swamy Parhaladas v. State of M.P. (1995) Suppl 3 SCC 438.

8. In Mahaveer Singh v. State of M.P. (1987) Jabalpur Law Journal 645, the view expressed was that in order to bring a case within the scope of Section 306 of the Penal Code there must be evidence to suggest that there was some incitement or some instigation suggesting the deceased to commit suicide. In the aforementioned judgment reliance was placed on several decisions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. These are noticed in para 11 of the judgment. This para be noticed :

The technical question is whether the offence under Section 306 of the Indian Penal Code was made out against the appellants. This offence is described in the Penal Code as follows :

306. Abetment of suicide : If any person commits suicide, whoever sets the commission of such suicide, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years and shall also be liable to fine.

In Chambers 20th Century Dictionary the word, “abet” has been defined to mean “to incite by encouragement or aid (used chiefly in a bad sense) to back up”.

A Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court in Rajkumar v. The State of Punjab (1983) 1 Chand LR (Cri) 660 : (1983 Cri LJ 706) has very elaborately, interpreted the definition of “abetment” of an offence. Their Lordships were pleased to hold that expression instigate in the Consise Oxford Dictionary is defined as to “urge or incite, being about the persuasion” and in Webster, Dictionary is defined as “urge forword, provoke with synonyms of stimulate, urge spur, provide, attempt, incite, impel, encourage, animate. The word ‘instigate’ in common parlance would mean to urge forward or provoke, incite, or encourage to do an act.

This case has been followed by the said High Court in the case of Rajkumar v. State of Punjab, 1983 (1) Chand LR (Cri) 660: (1983 Cri LJ 706).

9. Accordingly in Mahaveer Singh’s case the learned Judge found no reason to differ from the interpretation given by the Punjab and Haryana High Court to the word “abetment”.

10. In Chanchal Kumari v. Union Territory, Chandigarh, 1986 Cri LJ 816 : (AIR 1986 SC 752), their Lordships of the Supreme Court have dealt with the factual aspect relating to the non-dependability of the evidence adduced in that particular case in order to prove the offence punishable under Section 306I.P.C.

11. In Panchram and Samailal v. State of M.P., 1971 Jabalpur Law Journal (SN)) 80, the prosecution story was that the accused had developed a love affair with another lady and he started neglecting his wife. With this neglect being shown by the husband, the wife drenched herself with kerosene and burnt herself. The Court came to the conclusion that offence under Section 306 could not be said to have been made out. The requirement is to show that positive steps were taken with a view to induce the person concerned to commit suicide. This requirement was held to be imperative.

12. In Tej Singh v. State of M.P., 1985 Cri LJ 202 (sic), it was observed that merely because evidence is brought on the record that there was some quarrel between the accused and the person who committed suicide, this would not amount to abetment.

13. To the same strain is the view expressed in Mahaveer Singh and Ors. v. State of M. P., 1987 Madhya Pradesh Law Journal 403.

14. Basant Kumar v. State of M.P., 1991 Jabalpur Law Journal 175 : (1990 Cri LJ (NOC) 45) is again an authority for proposition that mere misbehaviour on the part of the accused cannot be equated with abetment.

15. In Deepak v. State of M.P., 1994 CriLJ 677, in a dying declaration it was stated that accused had entered her room and caught hold of her and asked her to allow them to have sex. When she refused they threatened to defame and to rape her. The accused did not commit sexual intercourse with her. One hour after this incident, she poured kerosene oil on her body and set herself ablaze. It was held that, that a case under Section 306 cannot be said to have been made out.

16. In Dinesh Chandra v. State of M.P., 1988 (2) Madhya Pradesh Weekly Notes 84, the person who committed suicide made a statement to the effect that “he wanted to put an end to his life as he is being harassed by his father, brother and sister-in-law”. He had further stated that he is going to place where there would be none to harass (Pareshan) him. This was held to be outside the purview of Section 306.

17. Decision of the Supreme Court reported as Mahendra Singh v. State of M.P., 1995 AIR SCW 4570, may also be noticed. In this case, the charge under Section 306 of the Indian Penal Code was based on a dying declaration of the deceased. This stands reproduced in the judgment of the Supreme Court and the same be noticed.

My mtoehr-in-law, husband and sister-in-law (husband’s elder brother’s wife) harassed me. They beat me and abused me. My husband Manendra wants to marry a second time. He has illicit connections with my sister-in-law. Because of these reasons and being harassed I want to die by burning.

It was held that in the absence of positive instigation no case would be said to have been made out under Section 306.

18. I am of the opinion that merely because there is character assassination and this leads some one to take extreme step to commit suicide, then it cannot be made a ground to come to the conclusion that a case has been made out under Section 306 of the Penal Code.

19. This appeal as such is allowed.

20. Fine if any deposited by the petitioner be refunded.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s