SC sets aside HC order describing deceased as weakling

SC sets aside Karnataka HC order describing deceased as weakling

The apex court has allowed abetment to suicide probe against KAS officer

The Supreme Court of India. Credit: PTI Photo

The Supreme Court has set aside a Karnataka High Court order which quashed an abetment to suicide case against a special land acquisition officer by describing the deceased, his driver, as "weakling". 

A bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and B V Nagarathna said behavioural scientists have initiated the discourse on the heterogeneity of every individual and have challenged the traditional notion of ‘all humans behave alike’. 

The court also said the observations by a single judge bench of the High Court in the judgement of May 29, 2020 describing the manner in which a depressed person ought to have behaved deeply diminished the gravity of mental health issues. 

It said the alleged suicide is of a person who was working as a driver of a Special Land Acquisition Officer, a public servant, and against whom serious and grave allegations of amassing wealth disproportionate to the known sources of income were made by the deceased. 

"The suicide note contains a detailed account of the role of the accused in the events which led to the deceased committing suicide. These are matters of investigation and possibly trial," the bench said.

The court allowed an appeal filed by Mahendra K C, brother of Ramesh K C, who ended his life on December 6, 2019 at Mandya leaving behind a suicide note alleging KAS officer L Bheema Naik threatened and harassed him. The deceased, who uploaded his suicide note on Facebook, had also alleged that the accused officer amassed wealth in excess of Rs 100 crores, converting black money into white and transferring funds from the bank account of the deceased through his mobile to the accounts of the relatives.

The top court said the HC's single judge, other than deciding on the merits of the case while exercising the power under Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code, has also made observations diminishing the importance of mental health. "The mental health of a person cannot be compressed into a one size fits all approach," it said.

The court said the High Court has travelled far beyond the limits of its inherent power under Section 482 CrPC since instead of determining whether on a perusal of the complaint, a prima facie case was made out, it had analysed the sufficiency of the evidence with reference to the suicide note and has commented upon and made strong observations on the suicide note itself. 

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