NEW DELHI: The Central Bureau of Investigation has levelled charges of abetment to suicide against actor Sushant Singh's friend Rhea Chakraborty. But getting a conviction in the case may be a tall order for the premier investigating agency given that CBI has not been able to get a single conviction in the abetment to suicide cases it has probed, as per reports.
To understand why convictions in such cases have remained quite low, New Indian Express talked to various experts including lawyers and senior police officers. This paper also asked experts what could be the challenges in probing the case.
According to the latest NCRB report of 2018, the conviction rate of cases registered under 306 IPC was a mere 15.6%. And in metropolitan cities such as Mumbai, the rate of conviction was even lower, at about 10%.
Investigators and prosecutors both said abetment to suicide is a difficult charge to prove.
Noted criminal lawyer Rajiv Mohan said, “It is not easy to get direct evidence in cases of abetment. It was brought in for cases like dowry. The investigating agency will have to prove that the accused created such a situation that the victim was left with no choice but to end his life. It is clearly defined that the instigation has to be of that level and only then can the accused be proved guilty.”
Mohan, who has been a special prosecutor in the suicide case of air hostess Geetika Sharma in which Haryana MLA Gopal Kanda is facing trial, added that the case would be easier to crack if CBI finds evidence that Rhea was giving Sushant wrong medicines as is being alleged by some.
A senior IPS officer, on the condition of anonymity, said that if the mental health of the deceased was not good at the time of suicide, then it goes in favour of the accused.
The fact that Rhea Chakraborty had left Sushant’s house a week before his death also makes the case difficult for the CBI, investigators said adding it will be difficult to prove abetment since immediate trigger leading to suicide has to be established.
Lawyer AT Ansari, who was a special prosecutor in the Nirbhaya rape case, said that the intention and involvement of the accused to aid or instigate the commission of suicide is imperative in cases of abetment.
“Suicide is never to be inferred from circumstances in absence of intentions on the part of accused to aid or abet or instigate the deceased to commit the suicide,” Ansari said.
On poor conviction rates of abetment to suicide cases, Ansari said, “Apart from the cases of suicide arising out of matrimonial discord, the essential ingredients of the offence are always found missing in cases of abetment. Most of the time cases are forwarded to court on the basis of unsubstantiated circumstances portrayed to be the potential reasons driving the deceased to die by suicide.”
Of the total 4026 cases of abetment to suicides decided by courts in 2018, only 628 led to convictions while 3232 cases ended in acquittals and accused were discharged in 166 cases.
A total of 6239 people were acquitted in these cases, 282 persons were discharged and 1024 accused were convicted in 2018, as per the NCRB report.