Officer not guilty of abetting junior employee’s suicide: SC

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NEW DELHI, MAY 23,
A superior officer cannot be charged with abetting the suicide of a junior employee on the ground that he made him work hard and cautioned him about stopping his increments if the work was not done. There is no criminal intent or “guilty mind” involved, the Supreme Court observed in a recent judgment.
The verdict by a Bench of Justices Arun Mishra and U.U. Lalit came on an plea filed by Vaijnath Kondiba Khandke, against whom a complaint was filed by the widow of Kishor Parashar.
Both were serving in the office of the Deputy Director of Education, Aurangabad. Mr. Parashar ended his life on August 8, 2017 in his house. He did not leave a suicide note.
Alleges mental torture
His wife made a complaint to the police that her husband was “suffering from mental torture as his higher officers were getting heavy work done from her husband which required him to work “from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; that her husband would be called at odd hours and even on holidays to get the work done”.
His wife accused another co-worker of getting her work done from Mr. Parashar. She said her husband used to be under pressure of work.
Mr. Khandke appealed that the allegations were “absurd and inherently improbable and did not make out any case”.
‘Insufficient evidence’
The court, citing precedents, said a person can be accused of abetment of suicide only if there is evidence to prove that he or she had “either instigated the deceased in some way to commit suicide or had engaged with some other person in conspiracy to do so or that the accused had in some way aided any act or illegal omission to bring about the suicide”.
Justice Lalit said the only material on record was assertions made by the wife. The court found the facts on record in the case as “completely inadequate and insufficient”.
“As a superior officer, if some work was assigned by the applicant to the deceased, merely on that count it cannot be said that there was any guilty mind or criminal intent. The exigencies of work and the situation may call for certain action on the part of a superior, including stopping of salary of a junior officer for a month. That action simplicitor cannot be considered to be a pointer against such superior officer,” the apex court observed, quashing the criminal case.

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