Whether the words uttered in a fit of anger, amount to abetment?

Date:

Introduction 

In common parlance, the word ‘Abet’ signifies help, co-activity, and support and incorporates within its ambit, an illegitimate reason to commit the crime.

So as to bring an individual abetting the doing of a thing under any of the conditions specified under Section 107 of the Indian Penal Code, it isn’t just important to demonstrate that the individual who has abetted has participated in the means of the transactions yet additionally has been associated with those means of the transaction which are criminal Instigation as a form of abetment has generally been the most essential consideration in cases of abetment to suicide and dowry death.

Sanju @ Sanjay Singh Sengar V. State of Madhya Pradesh

Date of the Judgment: 1 May 2002

Bench: Justice M.B. Shah and Justice H.K. Sema

Citation: (2002) 5 SCC 371

Facts of the case:

(Sanju) Sanjay Singh Sengar (Hereafter referred to as the appellant) is the brother of Neelam Sengar, who is the wife of the deceased Chandra Bhushan (Babloo). The marriage between the sister of the appellant and the deceased took place in 1993.

Soon, after their marriage, the sister of the appellant was subject to ill-treatment and harassment by the deceased and his family members. Due to this, she lived with her husband along with their children for about a year.

Thereafter, the sister of the appellant went to her parent’s home and started living with the appellant. Two months prior to the incident the appellant had advised the deceased to take his sister back to the matrimonial home and treat her properly.

On 25th July 1998, the appellant(Sanju) visited the place of the parents of the deceased and pleaded with them that his sister should live in her matrimonial home and should not be ill-treated or harassed. It was also stated by the appellant that if they do not mend their behavior towards his sister, he would file a complaint under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code.

This story was further narrated to the deceased by his mother asking him to bring his wife back to avoid any police case against them.

Later that day, the deceased went to the house of the parents of appellant that is Neelam’s parents, followed by a quarrel between the appellant and the deceased. It was alleged by the counsel of the respondent that the appellant had used abusive language and said, “To go and die”.

On 27th July 1998, the deceased was found hanging with a rope by their neck on the raft of his house. The deceased also left a dying declaration naming “Appellant” as the abettor of his death. The appellant was convicted in the high court and filed an appeal in the Supreme court on 2nd July 2001

Judgment:

(1) Considering the definition of the word ‘abetment’ under Section 107 of IPC, it was found by the hon’ble court that the conviction of the appellant for an offense under section 306 is not sustainable merely on the allegation of harassment to the deceased by the appellant.

(2) It was also observed that neither of the ingredients of abetment is involved in the statement of the deceased.

Rationale:

(i) The court cited the case of Ramesh Kumar v. State of Chhattisgarh [(2001) 9 SCC 618]. In this case, the court acquitted and said the “word uttered in a fit of anger or emotion without intending the consequences to actually follow, cannot be said to be instigation”. In relation to this case, the court said that the fact that the appellant had said “To go and die”, does not amount to instigation.

(ii) Assuming that the deceased took the abusive language very seriously and drove him to commit suicide on 27th July 1998. The court was of the view that the suicide was not the direct outcome of the quarrel that had taken place on 25th July 1998.

(iii) With respect to the suicide note of the deceased, it was observed that the deceased was a frustrated man and was always indulged in the consumption of wine, as it was stated by the wife of the deceased. Moreover, the suicide note lacked the ingredients of abetment.

Analysis:

(i) Men’s rea, i.e. guilty intention is a necessary element for some to be held liable under section 107 of IPC.

(ii) For an individual to be called liable for Abetment, and so as to proceed against an individual for a criminal offense under Section 107, the prosecution must claim the component of men’s rea. For the prosecution, it should be shown that the abettor intentionally aided the commission of the crime.

(iii) Men’s rea plays a key role as it is a criminal act. As in this case, the hon’ble court was also of the opinion that the men’s rea as part of the intention, was missing in the appellant.

(iv) The dying declaration of the deceased Chandra Bhushan, was ambiguous and the note clearly indicated, that the deceased was drunk and was not in a proper mental state, so out of intoxication, he may have committed suicide.

Written By: Krishna Haritwal  –  BBA.LLB(2nd Year)

College: University of Mumbai Law Academy.

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