MADURAI: Exercising its suo motu revisional powers, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court recently convicted a man of abetting a woman’s suicide without an appeal or revision being filed by the State or victim’s side.
The court initiated the suo motu proceedings in 2015, after finding that the trial court erred in acquitting one Nagarajan. It was hearing an appeal filed by Nagarajan against his conviction for two other offences, house-trespass and outraging the modesty of a woman, in the same case.
The judgment said that around 1 am on July 11, 2003, Nagarajan trespassed into the victim’s house and attempted to rape her. Ashamed, the woman killed her one-and-a-half-year-old daughter and died by suicide. Nagarajan was booked for abetting the suicide, and in 2015, the Dindigul Mahila Court acquitted him and instead convicted him of the two other offences (trespass, and outraging the modesty of a woman).
When Nagarajan appealed against the conviction the same year, the high court said the trial court should not have acquitted him of abetment to suicide. Though neither the State nor the victim’s family filed an appeal, the court invoked its suo motu revisional powers and directed the Registry to file a revision petition in 2015.
Advocate A Thiruvadi Kumar, who was appointed as amicus curiae in the case, told TNIE it is rare for the court to invoke its suo motu revisional powers. He said that the conviction of Nagarajan under Section 354 of the IPC (outraging the modesty of a woman) by the trial court when he was not originally charged with the said offence, would not make the trial redundant.
Justice B Pugalendhi, who heard both the appeal and the suo motu revision petition recently, accepted the submissions of the amicus curiae and held that Nagarajan directly instigated the victim’s suicide by “tarnishing her self-esteem” and the trial court ought not to have acquitted him of the said charge.
Though Nagarajan’s counsel contended that the high court does not have the power to initiate suo motu revision, Justice Pugalendhi observed that the high court, as an effective instrument in the administration of criminal justice, is duty-bound to act suo motu where there is a flagrant abuse of the law, for the ultimate social good of the community, without waiting for a conduit application from the aggrieved party.
Dismissing Nagarajan’s appeal, he convicted him of abetment of suicide and sentenced him to five years of rigorous imprisonment.
(If you are having suicidal thoughts, or are worried about a friend or need emotional support, someone is always there to listen. Call Sneha Foundation - 04424640050 (available 24x7) or iCall, the Tata Institute of Social Sciences' helpline - 02225521111, which is available Monday to Saturday from 8 am to 10 pm.)