Feb 21, 2022

Arnab Goswami’s arrest and the Law on Abetment of Suicide

Republic TV editor Arnab Goswami was arrested by the Mumbai police in connection with an abetment to suicide case filed against him in 2018. The case is in relation to the death of architect Anvay Naik, who ended his life on May 5, 2018 after naming Goswami in his suicide note.

Which law punishes abetment of suicide?

Section 306 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 punishes the abetment of suicide. It states that if a person commits suicide, anyone who abets/assists that person in committing suicide is punishable under the law.

What is the punishment for abetting suicide?

The punishment for abetment of suicide is imprisonment for up to 10 years and a fine.

Increased punishment for abetting suicide in certain cases

The punishment for abetting suicide may be more severe if the person who commits suicide is:

  1. a) a child (under 18 years); or
  2. b) an insane person i.e., a person who is not of sound mind; or
  3. c) a person who is delirious or in a state of intoxication.

In these cases, the punishment could extend to life imprisonment or death.

Court judgements on abetment of suicide

In the 2011 case of Mohan v. State, the Supreme Court discussed the concept of abetment of suicide. The Court said that abetment involves a mental process of instigating a person or intentionally aiding that person in doing something. A person can be punished for abetment of suicide only if he/she takes action to instigate or aid another person in committing suicide. In order to punish a person for abetting suicide, there has to be a clear intention by that person to abet the suicide.

Further, in Madhav Rao v. State of Haryana, the Punjab and Haryana High Court stated that just because a person is named in a suicide note, this does not automatically mean that he/she has committed the offence of abetment of suicide. The contents of the suicide note and other circumstances have to be examined to decide whether the person is guilty of abetment.