Edirorial: Crime time

The Supreme Court has made an important observation while setting aside the conviction of a man who was accused of abetting his wife’s suicide in 1997.

State of mind to commit a particular crime ‘must be visible’ to determine the culpability for offence of abetment, said the apex court. It said that ingredient of ‘mens rea’ (intention) cannot be assumed to be ostensibly present but has to be visible and conspicuous.

This was said by a bench headed by Justice N V Ramana while setting aside the March 2010 order of the Punjab and Haryana High Court which had upheld the trial court’s verdict convicting the man for the offence under section 306 (abetment of suicide) of the Indian Penal Code.

“As in all crimes, mens rea has to be established. To prove the offence of abetment, as specified under sec 107 of the IPC, the state of mind to commit a particular crime must be visible, to determine the culpability,” said the court.

The bench, also comprising Justices Surya Kant and Hrishikesh Roy, said that in order to prove mens rea, there has to be something on record to establish or show that the man had a guilty mind and in furtherance of that state of mind, abetted the suicide of his wife. The SC delivered its verdict on a plea filed by the man against the order of High Court which had dismissed his appeal and upheld the four-year jail term awarded to him by the trial court in the case. The court noted that there is no direct evidence of cruelty against the husband or the in-laws in the case.


NT Bureau