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Need prima facie case showing intent to have abetment to suicide case stick: Bombay HC

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Mumbai: The Bombay High Court, while quashing an FIR against a man accused for abetment to suicide, has said that it is incumbent upon the prosecution to at least present a prima facie case showing that the accused had an intention to aid or instigate or abet the deceased to commit suicide.

The bench of Justices V.M. Deshpande and Anil S. Kilor said that in the absence of availability of such material the accused cannot be compelled to face trial for the offence punishable under Section 306 of the Indian Penal Code.

Background of the case

The court was hearing an appeal filed by Santosh Kumar, service manager of the Bank of Maharashtra, who was accused of abetment to suicide of Sudhir Gawande, the brother of the Prashant Wamanrao Gawande, (the complainant). The allegation was that the refusal of further loan to Prashant to restructure his already existing loan which he had not been able to pay amounted to abetment of suicide of his brother Sudhir.

Sudhir committed suicide on June 12, 2015 by hanging himself in a bedroom of his house. On June 13, 2015 the complainant approached the Morshi Police Station in Amravati and lodged his complaint against Santosh Kumar. The police station officer registered an offence punishable under Section 306 of the IPC. Santosh Kumar had apprehended arrest and moved for pre-arrest bail which the Sessions Judge at Amravati granted on June 26, 2015.

On January 25, 2016 Santosh Kumar filed a plea for quashing of the FIR. His lawyer Anand Deshpande argued that the FIR cannot stand the scrutiny of law, because there is nothing to show that the accused had any intention to aid or instigate or abet Sudhir to commit suicide. His argument said that as per loan account, there was an outstanding of Rs 2,32,689 as on March 31, 2015 in the name of Prashant. The lawyer argued that even if a request for a further loan by Sudhir for his brother was turned down on June 12, 2015, it could not be construed as abetment.

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The court said:

“Admittedly, in this case, the loan account of the complainant was showing outstanding to the tune of Rs 2,32,689. The said aspect is not denied by the prosecution. Sudhir Gawande, the deceased, was not having any loan outstanding in his name. Even, according to the prosecution, Gawande, the deceased, went to the Bank of Maharashtra, Morshi Branch, District Amravati for a loan. If the previous loan amount is outstanding and if the applicant, who is branch manager of the said bank, is refusing to grant any further loan, can this be said as act of a vigilant and prudent banker and if he is not granting any further loan, it cannot be termed that by such act he instigated and/or abetted the person to commit suicide.”

The Bombay High Court has quashed the FIR.

-India Legal Bureau

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