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Pawan Kumar v. State of Himachal Pradesh

The Facts of the Case

  1. This case depicts a mournful story of a young girl named Shalu, who fell in love with the appellant, and later she decided to elope with the accused. The accused was booked u/s 363(2), 366(2) and 376(4) of the IPC and was acquitted for the same.

  2. By this, the accused felt betrayed and thus started threatening the girl on a routine basis. The accused created a situation that was unbearable and insufferable for the victim following which she commits suicide by pouring kerosene on her body and setting herself ablaze.

  3. The appellant was subsequently charged u/s 306 of IPC for the Abetment of Suicide. The trial court acquitted the accused for the reason, that the dying declaration given by the deceased was ruled out as invalid as the deceased was not in a position to speak and there was no medical certificate as regards her fitness.

  4. Being aggrieved, the state preferred the appeal before the Hon’ble High Court of Himachal Pradesh at Shimla, reserved the judgment of acquittal rendered by the trial court, and convicted the appellant u/s 306 IPC.

  5. Being aggrieved accused preferred an appeal to the Hon’ble Supreme Court of Indian through special leave petition.


The main issues raised before this Hon’ble court were:

  • Whether the Dying Declaration is to be treated as a source of evidence or not?

  • The ambit and scope of Section 306 of the Indian Penal Code.

Observation

  • The first issue before the Hon’ble Supreme Court was, whether the dying declaration can be treated as a reliable source of evidence or not?

  • A legal maxim Nemo Moriturus Praesumitur Mentiri i.e. a man will never meet his maker with a lie in his mouth, is the principle on which the dying declaration is admitted in evidence.

  • In our case statement given by the deceased i.e. Shalu was under the expectation of death and was also related to her cause of death which according to the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 is a reliable source of evidence.

  • In Laxman v. State of Maharastra, a dying declaration can be oral or in writing.

  • On the question of obtaining a certificate of fitness of the declarant by a medical officer, reliance can be sought from the authority in the case of Gulzari v. State of Haryana, which stated that a valid dying declaration may be made without a certificate of fitness of a declarant by a medical officer.

  • Hence, the dying declaration of the deceased Shalu passes all the tests laid down by law and thus, the Court rightly re-appreciated the evidence.

  • The second issue which is required to be addressed is whether Section 306 of IPC is attracted.

  • The word abetment is not mentioned in section 306 IPC but can be traced u/s 107 and thus reads as:- Section 107 abetment of a thing:

First: Instigate any person to do that thing; or

Secondly: Engages with one or more other person or persons in any conspiracy for the doing of that thing, if an act or illegal omission takes place in pursuance of that conspiracy: or

Thirdly: Intentionally aids, by any act or illegal omission, the doing of that thing.

  • Abetment”, thus, means a certain amount of active suggestion or induce or assist to do an act.

  • In Praveen v. State of Uttranchal and Ors, it has been ruled: In fact, from the above discussion, it is apparent that instigation has to be gathered from the circumstances of a particular case.

  • Keeping in view the above observation in the instant case, the accused acts like eve-teasing, tarnishing the self-esteem and self-respect of the victim, and his continuous course of conduct created such a situation as a consequence of which the deceased was left with no other option except to commit suicide.

  • Hence, the court suggests that the constant and intentional interference of the accused in the life of the victim to harass and tease her created such a situation that instigated the victim to end her life.

  • Thus, the act of accused comes under that of abetment, and hence accused tried and punished u/s 306 IPC is justified.


Decision

Thus the Supreme Court, in this case, has taken a firm stand for women’s rights. In a civilized society, male chauvinism has no room. The Constitution of India confers the affirmative rights on women and the said rights are perceptible from Article 15 of the Constitution.


Therefore, the high court has absolutely correctly reversed the judgment of acquittal and imposed the sentence.

*2017 SCC Online SC 509

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Shashank Shrivastava is a 3rd-year law student at Law Center II, Faculty of Law, University of Delhi

They can be contacted at shashank07672@gmail.com

LinkedIn ID: https://www.linkedin.com/in/shashank-shrivastava-9114211b2

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