Gurcharan Singh v The State of Punjab
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.40 OF 2011 decided on October 1, 2020.
BENCH- NV Ramana, Surya Kant and Hrishikesh Roy, JJ.
The accused, along with his parents, was charged under section 304-B and 498A/34 of Indian Penal Code (hereinafter referred as IPC) for harassing the deceased who was his accused’s wife regarding insufficient dowry. The deceased in this case was alleged to have consumed some poisonous substance. The Trial Court ordered acquittal of the accused’s parents but convicted the accused for abetting suicide of his wife, under section 306 IPC. Aggrieved by the same, the accused filed an appeal to High Court and then to Supreme Court.
Whether accused could be held guilty for instigating and abetting suicide based on circumstantial evidence, in absence of any direct evidence?
The Supreme Court answered the question in negative and said that a young married lady with two minor children committing suicide, in the absence of evidence, conjectures cannot be drawn that she was pushed to take her life, by the circumstances and atmosphere in the matrimonial home. The Supreme Court held that in order to convict an accused under Section 306 IPC, the accused should instigate a person either by act or omission. The Supreme Court in its judgment relied on the importance of the principle of Mens Rea and held that to determine the culpability there must be state of mind to commit a particular crime which must be visible. Mens Rea cannot be assumed to be ostensibly present but has to be visible and conspicuous. The Supreme Court applying the above law on present facts and circumstances of the case it concluded that there was no direct evidence to show that deceased was subjected to cruelty or any maltreatment instead evidence suggest that due care and treatment was given to the deceased at her matrimonial home.