Taking legal action does not amount to abetting suicide: Delhi HC

Abetment involves a mental process of instigating a person or intentionally aiding a person in doing a thing, the court said.

Published: 24th August 2021 09:16 PM  |   Last Updated: 24th August 2021 09:16 PM   |  A+A-

Delhi High Court (File Photo | PTI)

Delhi High Court (File Photo | PTI)


NEW DELHI: Sending a legal notice and filing a criminal complaint does not amount to the offence of abetment to suicide in spite of the presence of a suicide note, said the Delhi High Court.

"Abetment involves a mental process of instigating a person or intentionally aiding a person in doing a thing," explained Justice Manoj Kumar Ohri.

The court's ruling came in a case where a seller had killed themselves after receiving a legal notice and facing a criminal complaint from a buyer for an alleged non-delivery of a product.

"The deceased had felt harassed but, in these facts, the act of petitioner (buyer) could not be held to have abetted the deceased in killing themselves. The filing of a criminal complaint by the petitioner was his legal recourse, as advised to him," the judge said in the August 23 order.

The court observed that the act of suicide did not have any "live link" or proximity with the acts of the buyer who filed a plea before the high court for setting aside a trial court order refusing to accept police's closure report in the case.

The court opined that the buyer had no intention or mens rea and it cannot be said that he instigated the deceased to commit suicide.

The court noted that as per the call data record, it was the deceased who had called the buyer twice during the relevant time duration and the only call received by the deceased was from the police station with regards to the criminal complaint which was yet to be registered as an FIR.

"The issue involved when narrowed down is whether issuance of a legal notice and filing of a complaint case by the petitioner would amount to 'abetment' punishable under Section 306 IPC," said the court.

"This Court is of the opinion that necessary ingredients of the offence punishable under Section 306 IPC are not made out against the petitioner and the petition is allowed and the impugned order passed by the learned ASJ directing the Trial Court to proceed with the matter, is set aside," the court ordered.

In the present case, the buyer, a resident of the USA, entered into a transaction with the deceased seller for purchasing an antique vintage motorcycle.

As per the buyer, in spite of complete payment, the deceased did not hand over the possession of the vintage motorcycle for two years, following which the petitioner came to India and sent a legal notice and filed a criminal complaint with the police for cheating and other offences.

After the buyer left the country, the seller themselves and left behind a suicide note naming him as the reason for taking the extreme step.

An FIR under Section 306 IPC was subsequently filed by the police on the deceased's wife's complaint, it was stated.


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