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'Criminal justice system itself can be a punishment', SC discharges accused in abetment to suicide case

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New Delhi | Wednesday, 2022 5:15:10 AM IST
The Supreme Court has discharged three accused in an alleged 2008 abetment to suicide case in Punjab, saying "the criminal justice system of ours can itself be a punishment".

A bench comprising justices S.K. Kaul and Abhay S. Oka said: "The criminal justice system of ours can itself be a punishment! This is exactly what has happened in this case. Fourteen years on, an issue of abetment to suicide in an episode where a student was reprimanded for misconduct in the college and on endeavour to take disciplinary action and call the father, though the parent did not turn up, and subsequently the child committed suicide. An unfortunate situation."

The bench, in its November 24 order, added that present appeals were preferred, assailing the high court order.

It said, "The trial of course naturally did not proceed in view of the stay by this court. The matter has rested at that for the last thirteen years."

The bench noted that the charge sheet was simply an incorporation of what the complainant has said.

"On perusal of the charge sheet, it was found that there is no other independent witness whose statement was recorded or who is cited as a witness to the actual incident," it added.

The bench said the anguish of the father ought not to have been converted into a case of abetment to suicide and certainly the investigation and the approach of the trial court could have been more realistic keeping in mind the surrounding facts and circumstances in which the suicide episode occurred.

On April 16, 2008, the student, who died by suicide, was attending a lecture under one of the accused and was alleged to have misbehaved with him in the class under the influence of alcohol. Later, an order was passed suspending the student from the class and calling upon him to call his parents as an exercise of legitimate disciplinary action.

The bench noted that the student, instead of complying with the disciplinary action, chose to take his own life by jumping in a canal and before doing so, he had sent an SMS to his brother.

In April 2008, a case was registered, on the complaint of deceased's father, for the alleged offence under Section 306 of the IPC claiming that the suicide was instigated by the three accused -- the teacher, the head of the department, and the principal. In April 2009, charges were framed against the accused. The high court dismissed the petition filed by the accused against the framing of charges against them.

The top court said, "We find not an iota of material on record even assuming the complete charge sheet to be correct which could lead to a conviction in a case of abetment as there was absence of the necessary ingredients to make the offence."

Allowing the appeals, the top court said, "We, thus, set aside the order framing charges dated April 16, 2009 and impugne the order of the high court sustaining the same and discharge the accused."

--IANS ss/arm

( 525 Words)

2022-11-29-23:28:02 (IANS)

 
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