Abetment to suicide

This article is written by Iffat Khan studying at the University of Lucknow. This article has been edited by Ojuswi (Associate, Lawsikho). 

This article has been published by Sneha Mahawar.


In today’s world when there is massive work pressure and unmonitored working hours, creating mental pressure on the employees coupled with the abuse or rebuke from the bosses, some people tend to commit suicide when they are unable to handle the circumstances.  In this article, we will analyse whether putting mental pressure on the employee could be the basis of conviction under Section 306 IPC. Particularly, we will analyse situations like excessive work pressure on the deceased, pressure for repayment of loans, and alike situations especially when the deceased has mentioned the name of the accused in the suicide note. 

Download Now

The term ‘Suicide’ is not specifically defined under the Indian Penal Code. It is a combination of two words – ‘Sui’ meaning ‘self’ and ‘cide’ meaning ‘killing’, thus ‘Suicide’ means ‘self-killing’. Oxford Dictionary defines it as the intentional killing of one’s life. Section 306 IPC penalise abetment of suicide and Section 309 IPC penalise attempt to commit suicide. In this article, we will look into the essential ingredients for Section 306 IPC and scenarios for its application. The ‘abetment’ under this section must conform to the definition of ‘abetment’ as given under Section 107 IPC

Commission of suicide 

Section 306 creates a specific offence as the liability under this section arises only upon commission of suicide and it will not be applicable for an attempt to commit suicide. This was discussed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in Satvir Singh And Ors vs State Of Punjab And Anr stating that Section 306 makes the person abetting the suicide punishable for which the condition precedent is that suicide should necessarily have been committed. In Shiv Prasad Pandey v. State of U.P, the court stated that the offence of attempt or abetment is made out only when the offence abetted is committed in consequence thereof. Thus, where the commission of suicide is abetted and the suicide is committed as result thereof, the abettor is liable under Section 306

The Constitutional validity of this section has also been established by the Apex court. Sec. 306 constitutes an entirely independent offence based on public policy. It follows the principle that nobody should instigate, aid, or encourage someone to end his own life. 

Can there be an attempt of abetment to suicide (Section 306 and 511 IPC) 

We have seen that when a person abets someone to attempt suicide and as result, the suicide is committed then the abettor shall be held liable under Section 306 IPC. For conviction under Section 306, the commission of suicide is a must. So does that mean if the suicide is not successful because of any factor, the abettor can go free? Section 511 IPC deals with punishment for attempting offences punishable with imprisonment. 

The Kerala High Court in Berin P.Varghese vs State Of Kerala held that it would be a defeat of the purpose of the law to hold a person liable for abetting suicide, but not for committing suicide itself. Such ad absurdum construction must certainly be avoided, if possible. The learned Justice R.Basant commented that “I take the view that an attempt to commit the offence under Section 306 IPC is certainly possible and there is no warrant for the presumption that there cannot ever be a conviction for an offence under Section 306 r/w. 511 IPC. If a person abets the commission of suicide and the abetment does not succeed and fructify into a completed offence under Section 306 IPC it must, be held to fall within the sweep of Section 306 r/w 511 IPC.”

The charge under sec. 306 r/w 511 can be levelled when the accused would be liable under Section 306 if the attempt to commit suicide would have succeeded. Further, section 511 is a residuary section and cannot be imposed when there is another express provision punishing the alleged act. It was observed in Satvir Singh And Ors vs State Of Punjab And Anr that when the act is expressly made punishable under another provision, it stands lifted out of the purview of Section 511 IPC. 

Ingredients of abetment to suicide

Abetment under this section is in tune with Sec. 107 which defines abetment. For making a case under Section 306, the prosecutor has to prove that- 

  • The deceased committed suicide
  • There was the instigation for suicide by the accused 
  • Engaging in a conspiracy and 
  • Aiding the commission of suicide. 

In all three cases of instigation, conspiracy or aid, direct and active involvement of the accused is essential to convict them for abetment of suicide. The term ‘instigation’ is not defined in IPC. The instigation on the part of the accused should be active and proximate to the incident. It has been held in many cases that to constitute “instigation”, a person who instigates another has to provoke, incite, urge or encourage doing an act by the other by “goading” or “urging forward”. A mere statement suggesting the deceased end his life without any mens rea would not come under the purview of abetment to suicide. Mens rea is a necessary ingredient of instigation and the abetment to suicide would be constituted only when such abetment is intentional.

In Geo Varghese v. State of Rajasthan, a 9th standard student committed suicide and left a note alleging that his PTI teacher harassed and insulted him in front of everyone. The court emphasised two essentials for conviction under Sec. 306. Firstly, there should be a direct or indirect act of incitement. A mere allegation of harassment of the deceased by another would not be sufficient. Secondly, there must be reasonableness. If the deceased was hypersensitive and if the allegations imposed upon the accused are not otherwise sufficient to induce another person in similar circumstances to commit suicide, it would not be fair to hold the accused guilty for abetment of suicide. Thus, the Hon’ble SC quashed the FIR in the lack of any specific allegation and material on record as the essentials to prove the allegation under Section 306 were not satisfied.

Importance of mens  rea in case of abetment to suicide

The court quashed the FIR under Section 306 IPC in Roop Kishore Madan v. State, mentioning that even though the suicide note clearly mentions that the deceased committed suicide because of the accused but there is no material on record to show that the ingredients of the offence of abetment had been satisfied and, therefore the offence under Section 306 IPC cannot be said to have been committed. The instigation when not direct has to be gathered from the circumstances of the case. 

In Manish Kumar Sharma v. State, the accused lent some money to the deceased lady and while demanding the dept repayment the accused used filthy words and the lady committed suicide due to extreme mental stress. It was held that the accused cannot be held guilty under section 306 and the importance of mens rea was emphasised.

In Chitresh Kumar Chopra v. State, the special leave appeal was dismissed by the SC and the charges framed by the trial court were affirmed. The brief facts of the case were that the deceased named Jitender Sharma committed suicide by shooting himself with a licensed revolver. The deceased was a partner with the appellant and two other people and was engaged in the real estate business. The deceased left a suicide note saying that his three partners abetted him to commit suicide because of some money matter. It was argued that the role of the accused in the conspiracy resulting in the deceased committing suicide is not established. As per the suicide note, the deceased owed some money to the accused and the accused would not instigate the deceased to commit suicide without recovering the debt as the accused will lose his money in this case. Under Section 107 of the IPC, intentional aiding and active complicity are essential. The court stated that the onus of showing the circumstances which led the deceased to take the drastic step of committing suicide is upon the prosecution. To frame charges under Section 306 IPC, prima facie, the conduct of the accused shall be such that the deceased was left with no other option besides committing suicide or there should be encouragement or aiding from the accused. But there was evidence showing that the deceased was threatened, called dishonest and was forced to give up his 25% share in the joint property and accept a 10% share instead. In addition, a witness told the deceased that he overheard the other two partners telling the deceased that the accused had instructed them to inform him that he had the last chance to sign the contract, and that he must sign or die by taking poison if he wants to live in society. Soon thereafter the deceased committed suicide. Hence the circumstances were such that the deceased was pushed to the wall and the only escape shown to him was suicide thus, the SC dismissed the appeal stating that the charge was correctly made out against the accused under Section 306

In Madan Mohan Singh v. State of Gujarat & Anr., in the suicide note it was mentioned that the accused was the sole reason for the deceased to commit suicide. The deceased was a driver and underwent heart surgery because of which his doctor suggested he abstain from stressful duties. Failing to comply with the orders a superior officer (accused) to the deceased rebuked him and asked the deceased how he still found the will to live, despite being insulted so. The driver then committed suicide. The Apex court observed that the deceased was suffering from depression and the accused never intended him to commit suicide.  

Praveen Pradhan v. State Of Uttaranchal & Anr the SC observed that “instigation has to be gathered from the circumstances of a particular case. No straight-jacket formula can be laid down to find out as to whether in a particular case there has been instigation which forces the person to commit suicide.” In this case, it was alleged that the accused was compelling the deceased to indulge in several wrongful practices at the workplace and on refusal to such demands the accused started harassing and insulting the deceased at regular intervals. The court held that there was persistent harassment and humiliation thus the court dismissed the appeal and ordered for trial. 

High work pressure and abetment to suicide

In Vaijnath Kondiba Khandke v. The State Of Maharashtra, the deceased named Kishor Parashar was working in the office of the Deputy Director of Education Aurangabad. His wife alleged that the higher officers of her husband subjected him to mental torture, requiring him to work from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm, they would call her husband at odd hours and even on holidays to get the work done. She also alleged that the accused stopped his one month’s salary and was threatening to stop the increment due to which her husband was very disturbed and committed suicide. The HC observed that even though the accused persons have no intention of the deceased committing suicide but if they create a situation causing extreme mental tensions to drive the person to commit suicide, they can be charged for instigating the suicide. However, the Hon’ble SC allowed the appeal for quashing the criminal case and observed that there is no suicide note left by the deceased and the allegations against the accused are based on the assertions of his wife only. It cannot be denied that when a situation is created deliberately to instigate a person to commit suicide as result thereof, Section 306 would be attracted but in the present case, where a superior officer exercised his powers to get the work done from his junior, it cannot be said that there was any criminal intent/mens rea.

The Andhra Pradesh High Court in B.Sridevi v. The State Of Andhra Pradesh,  granted bail to the petitioner because the complaint showed that the deceased committed suicide due to pressure from his higher officers, without showing any instigation or abetment. Hence, no prima facie case for abetment to commit suicide could be made out. 

Committing suicide due to frequent transfers and harassment at workplace

In Dr J.P. Bhargav And Anr. v. State Of U.P., the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad HC on 06.07.2022, allowed the application for quashing of FIR under Sections 120-B/306 IPC and the order passed by the Special Judicial Magistrate (C.B.I.) Lucknow in absence of any record showing mens rea for instigation. The name of the accused was present in the suicide note. The HC stated that it is clear that the deceased perceived harassment as he was transferred in frequent succession on administrative grounds and was not given earned leave but the essentials for instigation under section 306 are completely absent.

Recently, Dr Surendra Manjrekar v. State of Maharashtra decided on 28.1.2022, the applicant was granted anticipatory bail as the Bombay High Court held that it was doubtful whether the offence, under Sections 306 read with 107 of IPC was made out.

Sufficiency of evidence for a conviction

The Delhi HC in Prashant Manchanda v. Lt. Governor Of Delhi & Anr held that an FIR cannot be registered for abetting suicide merely on the basis of allegations that XYZ abetted the suicide. In this case, the deceased held his superior, the Commissioner of Police responsible for him to commit suicide. The court stated that when a person commits suicide he goes beyond the reach of investigating forces. In such cases, the cognizable part is abetment to commit suicide, hence before registering the FIR the complaint must disclose the abetment to commit suicide by the person named in the complaint. Police cannot register FIR against someone based on the absurd allegations in the complaint. 

After FIR, in order to start the trial, the first step is to frame charges. In the State of M.P. v. S.B. Johari, the court held that the charges can be quashed if the evidence that the prosecutor proposes to introduce to prove the guilt of the accused, even if accepted fully before it is challenged by cross-examination or rebutted by the defence evidence, if any, cannot prove that the accused committed the particular offence. In that case, there would be no sufficient ground for proceeding with the trial.

Thus, at the time of framing charges against the accused the court has to prima facie consider the case and examine if there are sufficient grounds to proceed against the accused and if there is strong suspicion against the accused based on the independent facts and circumstances of each case. The court is not supposed to examine whether the evidence produced by the prosecution may be sufficient for conviction or not. 

Category of offence and procedure for trial

This is a cognizable and non-bailable offence under CrPC as it is considered a heinous crime which impacts society. On 29 July 2022, the Hon’ble SC set aside an order of the Gujarat High Court by which the HC quashed the FIR under Section 306 IPC and Justices Indira Banerjee and V. Ramasubramanian observed that abetment of suicide is a heinous offence thus proceedings under it cannot be quashed on the basis of any financial settlement with the informant. As it would suggest a dangerous precedent where the complaints would be lodged for ulterior motives to extract money from the accused. Thus, it is a non-compoundable offence to be tried by the Court of Session. The fine imposed is usually given to the family of the deceased.


Thus, we can conclude that in order to charge the accused under Section 306 IPC there must be some direct and proximate nexus of the abetment and the result of such abetment must have led the deceased to commit suicide. Mere mentioning the name of the accused in an FIR/suicide note or the words uttered by the accused in a fit of anger or emotion cannot be the basis for conviction. It is important to judge each case according to the facts and circumstances, but a mere reprimand or a demand to fulfill contractual obligations cannot constitute a conviction, unless, the prosecution can show that the deceased was left with no choice by the accused’s actions or that he was encouraged to commit suicide by the accused.


Students of Lawsikho courses regularly produce writing assignments and work on practical exercises as a part of their coursework and develop themselves in real-life practical skills.

LawSikho has created a telegram group for exchanging legal knowledge, referrals, and various opportunities. You can click on this link and join:


Follow us on Instagram and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more amazing legal content.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here