The Orissa High Court recently granted bail to a petitioner accused under Section 306 (Abetment of suicide) suspected to be in a relationship with a woman who died by suicide (Safi @ Somanath Sahu v. State of Odisha)
“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,” the order passed by Justice SK Panigrahi stated.
The Single Judge discussed in detail the scope and ambit of bail law in relation to the offence under Section 306.
Justice Panigrahi relied on the case of Dataram Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh, where the Supreme Court laid down that the freedom of an individual cannot be curtailed for an indefinite period, especially when his/her guilt is yet to be proved.
It was observed that some of these basic principles were being lost sight of, due to which more and more people were being incarcerated for long periods. The order stated that this does not do any good to our criminal jurisprudence or to our society.
Considering this, the Court said that the sum of evidence and circumstances must be taken into account before adjudication on a question of bail.
“Keeping in mind that the normal rule is of bail and not jail...The Court has to keep in mind 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.”
With this background, the Court proceeded to answering the question in the current plea and observed thus:
“There is no answer as to why suicides occur because it is impossible to ever fully comprehend or analyze what goes on inside a person’s mind. Suicidal ideation and behaviours in human beings are complex and multifaceted. Human beings by their very intrinsic nature of being individualistic react and behave differently in different situations because of the personal meaning they add to each event, thus accounting for individual vulnerability to suicide.”
Justice Panigrahi discussed a judgment of the Madras High Court in the case of Manikandan v. State that said,
“If a lover commits suicide due to love failure, if a student commits suicide because of his poor performance in the examination, a client commits suicide because of his case is dismissed, the lady, examiner, lawyer respectively cannot be held to have abetted the commission of suicide.”
Therefore, the High Court granted bail to the petitioner, observing that even though the witnesses suggested a relationship between him and the deceased, the nature of evidence did not meet the required standards to prove that the petitioner abetted the suicide. The order clarifies that he trial court shall proceed with a fair trial, uninfluenced by any of the prima facie observations made above.
[Read order here]