Abetment to Suicide: A detailed Study

Introduction

Suicide or self- annihilation is a peculiar crime where the accused and the victim are both the same person. There are provisions laid down in the Indian Penal Code, 1860 related to this crime which provided for punishment as well to control further commission of offences. The Section 309 and Section 306 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 deals with the punishment for attempt to suicide and abetment to suicide respectively.

Abetment of attempt to commit suicide falls outside the purview of section 306 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 but it is punishable under section 309, Indian Penal Code, 1860 read with section 107, Indian Penal Code, 1860. Thus, even where the punishment for attempt to commit suicide is not considered desirable, its abetment is made a penal offence in the interest of society. Such a provision is considered desirable to prevent the danger inherent in the absence of such a penal provision.
Abetment, in a real sense, implies the actuation of an individual to do (or not to do) an act with a particular goal in mind, or help given by some individual to another either on his own decision or conditions emerging out of joint and valuable risk. Abetment to suicide includes a psychological interaction of inducing an individual or purposefully helping an individual in ending his life on his own.
This part depends on a sensible public approach to forestall other individual’s contribution, incitement, and helping in ending one’s life. It deals with the circumstance and dangers forced by death baiters. Section 305 under Indian Penal Code, 1860 deals with the punishment of a person who abets the suicide of a kid, not being eighteen years old, insane or idiot individual being intoxicated which is the death penalty or life detainment, or detainment for a term not surpassing ten years, and will likewise be obligated to fine.

Concept of Abetment

Abettor of suicide is defined in the Section 107 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 as
“A person abets the doing of a thing who-
First: Instigates any person to do that thing; or
Secondly: Engages with one or more other person or persons in any conspiracy for the doing of that thing, if an act or illegal omission takes place in pursuance of that conspiracy, and in order to the doing of that thing; or
Thirdly: Intentionally aids, by any act or illegal omission, the doing of that thing.”
The main ingredients to constitute the offence of abetment under Section 107 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 are:

  • There must be an abetment
  • The abetment must be an offence or an act which would be an offence, if committed by a person capable in law of committing the offence with same intention or knowledge as that of the abettor.
  • Mens Rea or the Guilty mind.

Mens Rea is a pertinent element in abetting of any offence. Requirement of mens rea is considered as a pre-requisite for liability of the offence of abetment.

Illustration: If A says to B that ‘I am going to kill C’ and B replies ‘Do as you wish and take the consequences’, whereupon A kills C, B cannot be said to have instigated A to stab C. Thus, B is not liable for abetment.
As per the section, abetment can be done by various ways, i.e., by instigating, conspiracy or by aiding.

01. Abetment by Instigation

“Instigate” signifies to urge or inclination forward or to incite, affect, ask or support doing a demonstration disallowed by the law. An individual is said to impel another, when he effectively proposes or assesses him to do an unlawful demonstration using any and all means or language, immediate or aberrant, regardless of whether it appears as express sales or of clues, suggestion, or supportive gestures.
Another type of instigation is that of endorsement of an act. While passive, latent, or lethargic endorsement may not really be viewed as incitement, there very rare cases when approval or endorsement has been seen as instigation.
Illustration: X instigate Y to murder Z by uttering words ‘Maro Maro’ and W gave a knife in X’s hand. Here both X and W are guilty of abetting the murder of Z, X by instigation and W by aiding the murder.

2. Abetment by Conspiracy

The second part of the meaning of abetment is when the abetment takes place with the help of more than one person in the conspiracy to commit an offence. The difference between abetment by conspiracy and the criminal conspiracy, so far as an agreement to commit an offence is considered, is that for abetment by conspiracy, mere agreement is not enough. An act or unlawful omission of an act must take place in accordance of the conspiracy in order to fulfill the plotted act.
Illustration: X, a servant agreed with the thieves to keep the door of his master’s house open in the night so that they can enter and commit theft. X, according to the plan kept the doors open and the thieves took away the property of the master. X will be guilty of abetment of theft by conspiracy. But if the thieves did not come; X would not have been liable under this section.

3. Abetment by Aid

An individual is said to abet the commission of an offense, in the event that he deliberately delivers help or aids by doing an act or not doing an act. Just a simple intension to assist someone with something isn’t adequate.

Intentional aid consists of following three components:

  • Doing of an act directly assisting the commission of the crime, or
  • Illegally omitting to do a thing which one is bound to do, or
  • Doing any act which may facilitate the commission or the crime by another.

Illustration: X instigates Y to murder Z by yelling the words ‘Maro Maro’ and W gives a knife to X. Here, both X and W are guilty of abetting the murder, X by instigation and W by aiding to commit the offence.
Illustration: In the case of Faguna Kanta Nath v. State of Assam, a priest who performs a bigamous marriage with the knowledge of the marriage being bigamous was held to have intentionally aided in the commission of a marriage prohibited by law.

Abettor

As per Indian Penal Code,1860, Section 108 deals with Abettor as under:
“Abettor: A person abets an offence, who abets either the commission of an offence, or the commission of an act which would be an offence, if committed by a person capable by law of committing an offence with the same intention or knowledge as that of the abettor.

Explanation I— The abetment of the illegal omission of an act may amount to an offence although the abettor may not himself be bound to do that act.

Explanation II— To constitute the offence of abetment it is not necessary that the act abetted should be committed, or that the effect requisite to constitute the offence should be caused.

Explanation III— It is not necessary that the person abetted should be capable by law of committing an offence, or that he should have the same guilty intention or knowledge as that of the abettor, or any guilty intention or knowledge.

Explanation IV— The abetment of an offence being an offence, the abetment of such an abetment is also an offence.

Explanation V— It is not necessary to the commission of the offence of abetment by conspiracy that the abettor should concert the offence with the person who commits it. It is sufficient if he engages in the conspiracy in pursuance of which the offence is committed.”

The abettor could either be an agitator or a conspirator or individual offering help to the commission of a wrongful act. The abetment should be of an offense or an act which adds up to an offense. On the off chance that the thing abetted isn’t an offense, the individual abetting won’t be viewed as an abettor and isn’t under the extent of this section. The part expresses that for an offense of abetment it isn’t fundamental that the individual abetted ought to be able in law, of submitting that offense, or that such individual ought to have a similar blameworthy expectation as that of the abettor.

Illustration: When the substantive offence is not established and the principal offender is acquitted, then generally the abettor cannot be held guilty. In another words, when the substantive charge fails, then the charge of abetment also fails. This was held in the case of Faguna Kanta Nath v. State of Assam .

Illustration: X incites Y to kill Z, and Y in pursuance of the incitement stabs Z, but Z recovers from the hurt, X is guilty of abetting Y to commit the offence murder despite of the fact that the act of Y did not gave the conspired effect.

Concept of Abetment of Suicide

Section 305 under Indian Penal Code, 1860, If any individual under eighteen years old, any insane or moron individual, or any individual in a condition of inebriation, commits suicide, whoever abets the commission of such a suicide, will be rebuffed with death or detainment forever, or detainment for a term not surpassing ten years, and will likewise be liable to pay the fine.

Instance: The material placed by the prosecution before the trial judge must be such that if it is accepted at its face value, it would establish that the commission of suicide by the girl below 18 years of age was direct and proximate cause of abetment or instigation offered by the accused.

Section 306 under Indian Penal Code, 1860, If any person commits suicide, whoever abets 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.

Illustration: If X abets Y to kill himself by taking poison and Y takes it, then X would be liable as an abettor under this section.

Creation of circumstances that provoked or forced wife to commit suicide attracts section 306 of Indian Penal Code- Brij Lal v. Prem Chand.
Along these lines, to convict an individual under section 305 or 306, Indian Penal Code, 1860, there must be an unmistakable Mens Rea to submit the offense. It likewise requires a functioning actor an immediate act which lead the perished to end it all seeing no other choice and this act probably been proposed to drive the expired into such a place that he comitted suicide.

Self-destruction is self-murder and the individual ending it all is past the range of the law. By and by, it doesn’t follow that abetment of self-destruction isn’t illegal by the code. A man urging and abetting another to carry out self-destruction is absolutely a crook and his act is culpable under Section 306 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. Truth be told, such an act isn’t just criminal yet condemnable according to each perspective.
To put forth out a defense of abetment, there should be incitement by the charged inciting, impelling, or urging an individual to do a demonstration. The offense of abetment under this part should adjust to the definition given under Section 107 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, i.e., there should be actuation, collaboration, or deliberate help given to the individual ending it all. Prior to the real conviction of an individual under Sec. 306 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, it should be set up that such other individual has ended it all. Section 306 makes a particular offense and the responsibility doesn’t emerge in the event of an endeavored self-destruction which will draw in section 309, Indian Penal Code, 1860. The direct involvement by the accused in such abetment or instigation is necessary.

Constitutional Validity of Section 306, Indian Penal Code, 1860

The constitutional validity of section 306 has been maintained in Naresh Morotrao v. Union of India.It was observed that section 306 establishes altogether an entirely independent offence. It depends on the guideline of public approach that no one ought to include himself in or affect, or help, the commission of wrongdoing. It isn’t violative of Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India.

Key Ingredients of Abetment of Suicide

To be convicted under this section, the prosecution has to prove these essentials –

  1. The deceased committed suicide,
  2. The accused instigated or abetted for committing suicide, and
  3. Mens Rea of the accused.

The liability emerges just when the suicide is committed. In the event of an endeavored suicide, provisions of Section 306 won’t be appropriate.

For conviction under Section 305 or 306, the offence of abetment must conform to the definition of ‘abetment’ given in section 107 of the Indian Penal Code. There must be instigation, or engaging in conspiracy, or assistance in the commission of the offence.

To convict an individual under Section 305 or 306, Indian Penal Code, 1860, there must be an unmistakable Mens Rea to submit the offense. A conviction for abetment to suicide is conceivable just if the charged really took a positive action to push the casualty to take their own life. At the point when someone else, in line with or with the assent of the suicide, has executed that individual, he would be blameworthy of at fault crime under execption 5 to Section 300.

To pull in the elements of abetment, the expectation of the blamed to help, incite, or abetting the suicide of a person is essential. The fundamental constituents of an offense under Section 306 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 are self-destructive demise and abetment thereof. The immediate contribution by the charged in such abetment or incitement is essential.

Important Cases

One of the most pertinent cases regarding abetment and attempt to suicide are the P Rathinam vs Union of India & Gian Kaur vs State of Punjab. In the case of P. Rathinam vs Union of India and Anr, 1994, SC held that Section 309 (punishment for attempt to commit suicide) is unconstitutional and violative of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. The Supreme Court in the Gian Kaur vs State of Punjab, 1996, reopened the issue and the two main contentions therein were that:

1.Abetment of suicide under Section 306 does not constitute a crime as it is only assisting another person who is exercising a fundamental right resting on the judgment in P Rathinam vs Union of India and Anr.
2.Section 306 is equally violative of Article 21.

The constitution bench held that Article 21 does not include “right to die” and hence overruled P Rathinam vs Union of India and categorically stated that the judgment in it does not stand judicial scrutiny. It was also held that the right to live with dignity cannot be construed to include the right to terminate one’s natural life, at least before commencement of the natural process of death and so Section 309 was neither violative of Articles 21 or 14.

In Arvind Kumar vs State of U.P, 2007, there was predictable, solid and dependable proof to demonstrate that the accused spouse continually harassed, embarrassed, and tormented his wife for bringing the left endowment articles. Thus, the spouse poured lamp fuel oil and set her body ablaze, and that burnt the wife’s body to the maximum. Spouse however present in the house at the hour of the episode made no endeavor to save his deceased wife. He didn’t try to call a specialist. Along these lines, assumption pondered under area 113-A, Evidence Act would be pulled in Facts and Circumstances of the case. Charged Husband Failed to counter that assumption. Accordingly, the conviction of accused under Section 306, IPC, and Section 4 of Dowry Prohibition Act were held not to be illicit.

It was held in Gangula Mohan Reddy vs state of Andhra Pradesh, 2010, that undoubtedly mens rea and active act by denounced is fundamental to comprise the offense. For this situation denounced was claimed to have leveled charge of robbery of adornments on expired, his worker had additionally requested development paid at the hour of his business. Deceased ended his life by the consumption of poison. Deceased seems, by all accounts, to be a very sensitive man. Thus, charged isn’t responsible to be indicted under Section 306, Indian Penal Code, 1860.

AUTHOR:

Abdul KarimJamia Milia Islamia (Faculty of Law)