Bombay High Court relief for teacher accused of abetting colleague’s ‘suicide’

Mumbai(PTI): The Bombay High Court has come to the relief of a teacher of a tribal school who was booked for abetment after one of his colleagues died in an apparent case of suicide. The deceased had been indicted by an inquiry committee for misbehaving with a female cook.

Directing that all charges against Sanjay Shinde, who part of the inquiry committee, be dropped, Justice Abhay Thipsay observed that it was not clear, in the first place, if the deceased had indeed committed suicide, and mere allegations were not sufficient to hold a person guilty.

Who all were booked by the police?
The Nashik police had in 2011 booked four teachers and the cook from Dr Rajendra Prasad Madhyamik Ashramshala at Shenit for conspiracy and abetment to suicide of teacher Shivaji Gade.

Why did Gade face a probe?
According to prosecution, on January 1 of that year, Gade went to the cook’s house after midnight and asked for water. He allegedly misbehaved with her and demanded sex. The cook ran away from there and lodged a complaint with the school management the next day.

A departmental inquiry indicted Gade on February 15, 2011, resulting in a minor disciplinary action against Gade. On February 24, 2011, Gade died after falling off a train.

What did Gade’s wife tell cops?
Gade’s wife then filed a police complaint, alleging that her husband’s death was a suicide. She said Gade killed himself as he faced humiliation at the hands of Shinde. The prosecution claimed that some letters written by Gade, which were found four days later, suggested that the teacher had killed himself.

Could prosecution prove the suicide angle?
Justice Thipsay observed that there was “basic fundamental defect” with the prosecution case that even if it was assumed that Gade committed suicide, the prosecution case “do not disclose the ingredients of any offence punishable under section 306 (abetment to suicide) of the IPC.”

Did the cook file a false complaint?
There is no sufficient basis to hold that the cook lodged a “false and malicious” complaint against Gade, said the court. “Even if it is assumed that the cook lodged a false complaint, there is nothing to show that the inquiry committee was aware of the same and deliberately gave a wrong finding, and that too with the intention that Shivaji Gade should commit suicide,” observed the judge.

What did the judge rule finally?
The HC further observed: “If the deceased has taken the step of putting an end to his life because of loss of reputation, and the humiliation felt by him on account of being subjected to a departmental enquiry, it is indeed unfortunate but, that by itself would not render the petitioner – and even the other accused – to be prosecuted on the allegation of having abetted the commission of suicide by the said Shivaji Gade.”