Calling a woman “call-girl” not sufficient to attract offence of abetment to suicide, Supreme Court

Calling a woman “call-girl” not sufficient to attract offence of abetment to suicide, Supreme Court

Shruti Mahajan

The Supreme Court held that verbally abusing a woman by calling her a “call-girl” will not attract the offence of abetment of suicide under Section 306 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

The judgment was rendered by a Bench of Justices Indu Malhotra and R Subhash reddy in an appeal filed by the State of West Bengal against a decision of the Calcutta High Court discharging the accused-Respondents of offences under Section 306 read with Section 34 of IPC.

The Respondents were charged with abetment to suicide after the deceased victim committed suicide leaving behind two suicide notes. The victim’s father, who is the complainant in the case, had lodged the complaint and had stated that Respondent no. 1 and the victim had developed a relationship and intended to get married.

For the purpose of discussing the prospect of marriage, the victim visited the Respondent’s house. However, the parents of Respondent 1  opposed the alliance with the father of Respondent 1 allegedly abusing the victim by addressing her a “call girl”.

On the day following this incident, the victim committed suicide by hanging leaving behind suicide notes where she detailed the incident. Charges were framed against the Respondents under Section 306 read with  Section34 of the IPC based on the suicide notes.

An application for discharge was moved in the High Court which by a detailed and reasoned order allowed the plea and discharged the Respondents.

It was observed by the High Court that the utterance of the words itself cannot be termed as goading or insinuation for the commission of suicide. The Supreme Court agreed with the view taken by the High Court and said,

“we are also of the view that the present case does not present any picture of abetment allegedly committed by respondents. The suicide committed by the victim cannot be said to be the result of any action on part of respondents nor can it be said that commission of suicide by the victim was the only course open to her due to action of the respondents. There was no goading or solicitation or insinuation by any of the respondents to the victim to commit suicide.”

Whether the words uttered directly or indirectly constitute an incitement or abetment to suicide will depend on the facts and circumstances of each case, the Supreme Court held and added,

“To draw the inference of instigation it all depends on facts and circumstances of the case, whether the acts committed by the accused will constitute direct or indirect act of incitement to the commission of suicide is a matter which is required to be considered in facts and circumstances of each case.”

The Court thus upheld the decision of the High Court and dismissed the appeal filed by the State of West Bengal.

[Read Judgment]

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