The Calcutta High Court recently discharged a retired school principal booked under Section 306 of Indian Penal Code (IPC) for abetment of suicide of a student who had jumped from a building after he admonished her [Neville Mcnamara vs State of West Bengal]..Single-judge Justice Rai Chattopadhyay, while discharging the principal, noted that the deceased student was found along with another student in a 'compromising position' in a vacant classroom during class hours.The petitioner, being the principal of the school, reprimanded them for their conduct after which both the girl and the boy jumped from a building. However, the boy was saved by his mother who got an ambulance and rushed him to the hospital, leaving behind the girl, who succumbed to her injuries.The principal was later booked for abetment of suicide and charge-sheet was filed on December 5, 2014. The trial court on March 31, 2016 rejected his plea for discharge leading to the present plea before the High Court.The High said that the being the principal, he was prima facie entrusted with the duty of maintaining discipline and order in the school. "Such duty of the principal is not only accepted in common parlance but also sometimes codified in the rule book of the school. In that event it is found not improbable that the petitioner being the principal of the school takes certain measure of reprimanding and giving punishment to the errant students," the Court observed.Reprimanding students and punishing them cannot be construed to be done with criminal intent to force the said students to commit suicide, the single-judge said. Further, no material was available in this case to disclose anything in terms of words or actions to suggest that the petitioner had such criminal intention to drive the said students to commit suicide, the Court opined."No doubt it is very unfortunate that an act of remedying indiscipline in students has impacted them so negatively and intensely that they thought it not any further possible to face the world. It may be their own thought process that their prestige has been diminished to that extent not to be able any further to face the surrounding persons, including parents," the judge observed. .The Court also took into account the statements of witnesses, who told the police that the boy's disgust could be seen just when he walked out of the principal's room saying 'everything is now known to everybody.'"In my considered opinion, the petitioner had no contribution to such a thought process of the said students, it was only common and natural duty of the petitioner to takes steps to set in discipline and the petitioner in doing so has taken the steps as he thought proper. By no stretch of imagination one can conclude the principal of the school to have any mens rea to drive the students to commit suicide by rebuking them for the purpose of inculcating discipline into them," the bench held.The bench further opined, "feeling of humiliation, panic and sudden and acute tension faced by a student due to punishment or fear of punishment cannot be attributed to the admonitory finger of the school Principal, to have been caused with the criminal intention to make him or her to commit suicide."A reasonable certainty to incite the consequence must be capable of being spelt out, the court added..The bench also noted from the case diary that there was sufficient material to show that there had been an act of indiscipline by the two students including the deceased."Bunking of class by them, secretly taking refuge to a vacant class room instead of attending class, are all spoken by the witnesses. In such view of the fact, even if the contention of the informant made in FIR is taken at its face value, the same would not disclose an offence against the petitioner as alleged or make out any cognizable case against him," the bench said.With these observations, the bench quashed the 2016 order passed by a trial court and discharged the petitioner.