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Employer’s plea to quash suicide abetment charges rejected

The Delhi High Court has rejected the plea of a man seeking quashing of a trial court order for framing of charges against him for abetting his employee in committing suicide in 2001.

“The victim was not only humiliated but also threatened to be killed after his name figured in a case filed before the labour court by the workers union against the company, observed Justice Mukta Gupta, dismissing the plea of Vijay Sakhija.

Sakhija had sought setting aside of the trial court’s order framing the abetment of suicide charge against him for allegedly abusing his employee Sanjay Srivastava in filthy language and forcing him to commit suicide.

The court has also dismissed a similar plea of Sakhija’s accountant Uttam Duggal for his alleged participation with Sakhija while hurling abuses against Srivastava in front of other colleagues in the office.

There is a prima facie case raising a strong suspicion of petitioners having committed the offence under Section 306 (abetment of suicide) IPC. I find no reason to interfere with the impugned order, Justice Gupta said, relying upon Srivastava’s suicide note in which he had held Sakhija and Duggal responsible for his suicide. The ruling Tuesday was only made available Friday.

The court took note of the arguments of the prosecution, who said that while Srivastava was at his native place, Sasaram (Bihar), a case was filed in the labour court wherein the name of Srivastava figured as one of the workmen.

When he returned from his home town, he was summoned to the office and abused in filthy language by the petitioners in front of a number of other persons. He was made to sign 42 blank papers and was intimidated with his instant death. Since he could not bear the said pressure and humility, Srivastava committed suicide, said the prosecution.

In the present case, they (accused) threatened the deceased (Srivastava) saying that he would eliminate him and, therefore, in view of the safety of his children, he signed a number of blank pages. It is stated that the unbearable tension resulted in the deceased ultimately committing suicide, the court observed in its judgement Tuesday.

Justice Gupta said: If it was mere abuse then it could not be stated that the accused had the requisite mens rea of causing the offence under Section 306 IPC (abetment). However, in the present case besides the abuses and humiliation the deceased was threatened to be killed and made to sign number of blank pages. Hence the acts went beyond mere abuse or insults.

On April 2, 2007, the trial court had framed the charge of abetment to commit suicide against Sakhija and Duggal.


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