Question about Jiah Khan's suicide case?
I have a question regarding the recent, Jiah Khan's suicide case. can a person be held liable for abetment to suicide if he/she refuses to get married to the deceased, which in turn causes depression to the deceased forcing him/her to take the drastic step? In what circumstances, a person can be held liable for the same?
No, he cannot be held liable under the given circumstances. Abetment involves the mental process of instigating a person or intentionally aiding a person in committing any act. S. 306, IPC, realizes abetment to commit suicide as a crime. But in order to attract the ingredients of abetment, the intention of the accused to abet is necessary.[i]
SC has time and again emphasized on the importance of conscious efforts on the part of accused to abet, his intention as well as knowledge to do so as the conclusive facts to be proved in order to punish a person for abetment. Even in the cases involving suicide notes, court held that merely because the deceased has mentioned the name of the accused, he cannot be implicated for abetment. The mental state of the deceased also needs to be considered.[ii]
As the facts of the case indicate:
1. There is clearly no evidence to prove the presence of mens rea on the part of Sooraj and even to prove that he abetted Jiah Khan to commit suicide.
2. The mental state of Jiah Khan was not stable as she attempted suicide earlier also and was reportedly depressed about falling career. It is also stated that Sooraj asked Jiah to consult a psychiatrist for her behaviour.
Therefore, in my opinion, implicating him for abetting Jiah Khan to commit suicide simply because he did not want to get married to her or did not love her back would be a grave miscarriage of justice and would lead to absurd consequences. It would empower every lovelorn individual to implicate a person for not returning their love along with depriving them with the basic rights to freedom guaranteed by the Constitution of India.
But a person can be held liable if it is found that he committed any act with the intention to lead the accused to commit suicide. Also in cases where it is found that he prudently possessed the knowledge that his act would cause the deceased to take the drastic step, he can be implicated, given, in both case scenarios, the mental condition of the deceased was stable.
[i] Pallem Daniel Victoralions Victor Manter v. State of Andhra Pradesh, (1997) 1 Crimes 499 (AP)
[ii] A.K Chaudhary v. State of Gujrat 2006 CriLJ 726
Abetment means continual mental hrassment or instigation of some sort, to push a depressed person into suicidal thoughts or the like for one's own gain, which can be direct or indirect.
(i'm putting this in blatant lay person's language)
as Harsha has previously indicated, "the intention of the accused to abet is necessary" (mens rea)
Moral and legal aspects should be different from evidence what stands is that their relationship was consensual and no legitimate tie of marriage existed to claim adultery. That apart the guy chose to break up and the girl committed suicide. I don’t think any case beyond reasonable doubt can be proved under section 309 of Evidence Act on this ground. In the absence of any other penal provision, with article 20 operating, I guess the guy may get free in sometime.
As far as the judgement of Supreme Court is concerned in this particular case, there is a 2013 Justice Chauhan and Misra judgement which says if you have intercourse with a woman you are in a relationship with in a bona-fide manner, but subsequently, it doesn’t work out, the woman cannot be allowed to charge the guy for rape because the act was consensual and bona-fide.
Should this be all moral according to me, she was in a live in with a guy who cheated on her. In India live in relationship is not a marriage and breaking relationship is not a crime. In fact, if we see it as a corollary of divorce, it is a legal right in certain circumstances as in case of irrevocable breakdown. If the girl wasn’t able to handle it, the guy cannot be prosecuted u/s 309 irrespective of the guy being morally wrong.
Abetment has been defined in S- 107 of the IPC & Abetment to suicide is dealt with by section 306 of the IPC. Stated simply, a person can be charged with abetment of suicide if there is some active suggestion, instigation, provocation, incitement or encouragement by the accused forcing the victim to kill himself/herself. It is not necessary that an accused should have asked/exhorted the deceased to commit suicide. The Instigation/provocation can be a result of bad behaviour or illtreatment too. for example, In Jiah Khan's Case if the alleged torture, abuse ,rape etc. by the accused is proved, a case for abetment of suicide can be made out. This would be covered under 'instigation' as provided under section 107 clause first.
As far as refusal to marry is concerned, pertinent would be issues such as - the extent of relationship, reason for refusal to marry, the manner in which the deceased was treated by the accused...etc. Jiah Khan's suicide seems to be due to more reasons than a simple refusal to marry .
Let's not conflate this with the particular instance of Jiah Khan's death: we aren't privy to the details of the investigation or what evidence has been found during investigation. And Bollywood tabloids, in my opinion, should generally not be relied on. :P
However, it is safe to say that in these general circumstances, a person cannot be held liable for abetment - abetment needs some kind of conscious act, such as harrassment, instigation, verbal/physical abuse, etc., (only an indicative list) on the part of the accused, and s/he must do this act with a view to the victim's suicide as the final consequence. That is, when the accused undertakes the aforementioned act, s/he must be doing it with the mental element of abetting the victim's suicide.
In this case, if all that happened was that he refused to get married, then in my opinion, the required mental element is highly unlikely to be present. Causal links between the act and the consequence are too weak. There have been cases in the past where even ditching the bride at the altar, followed by the bride's suicide, have been held to not be abetment of suicide.
However, if the theories floating about tabloid- and cyber-space are to be paid some credence, and if Jiah Khan was truly the target of abuse, etc., then the case against Suraj Pancholi would seem to be stronger.
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