The Supreme Court ruled that eve teasing has become a pernicious, horrid and
disgusting practice. In a civilized society, eve teasing is causing harassment
to women in all public places. A woman has her own private space just like a
man, and no one should even try to interfere or intervene in that.
The Article 21 of the constitution of India which guarantees right to life and
liberty gets violated by this horrid act of eve teasing and also adversely
affects the concept of gender sensitivity along with Article 14 and Article 15
of the constitution of India.
The court also said that in the instant case, the accused had by his acts and by
his continuous course of conduct created such a situation as a consequence of
which the deceased was left with no other option except to commit suicide.
Therefore, the accused can be held guilty of abetment to suicide under Section
306 of IPC. It was due to the active acts of the accused that the deceased
decided to put an end to her life.
The accused has played active role in tarnishing the self-esteem and
self-respect of the victim which drove the victim girl to commit suicide. The
cruelty meted out to her has, in fact, induced her to extinguish her life-spark.
Therefore, in this case the accused was held guilty of eve teasing as his acts
forced the victim to commit suicide and therefore was also held guilty of
abetment of suicide
Title Of The Case: Pawan Kumar Vs State Of Himachal Pradesh Citation: (2017)7
Bench Strength: 3-Judge Division Bench (Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.M
Khanwilkar, Justice Mohan M. Shantanagoudar)
Area Of Law: Criminal Law (Abetment To Suicide)
Author Of The Judgment: Justice Dipak Misra
Ratio: Unanimous Judgment
Pawan Kumar v State of Himachal Pradesh
is a landmark case that
illustrates the situation of women in India. It adequately presents how our
society becomes blindfolded when the rights and freedom are undermined. Many
times the girls and women are made to believe that they are unequal to the men
in the society and they don't belong in this society.
This leads to the dominance of the men over the females. This can ultimately
result in harassment of women by the males by eve teasing and threatening them
and their loved ones physically. These ultimately contribute as factors leading
to cruelty against women which can in various instances amount to abetment of
suicide. This act of eve teasing also doesn't allow a woman to live a peaceful
life and enjoy her fundamental rights that the constitution of India has given
Facts Of The Case
Points Of Law/Issues Raised
The Principle Issues That Were Raised Before The Supreme Court Were:
- This case depicts the story of a girl named Shalu, in her teens, who
fell in love with the appellant - the accused named Pawan Kumar. And blinded
in love she eloped with the accused. Subsequently, Pawan Kumar is charged
and acquitted under sections 363(2), 366(3), and 376(4) of the Indian Penal
- The accused blamed the girl for his prosecution and started harassing
and threatening her. This became his routine and he continuously started eve
- This created a situation for the victim in which she felt that she just
can't live her life in peace anymore. And she starts to believe that her
life is not worth living and succumbs to her emotional injuries.
- As a result, she committed suicide by pouring kerosene and setting
herself ablaze. She was brought to the hospital where her dying declaration
was recorded and then she succumbed to her injuries that she got due to her
attempt to suicide.
- Following her demise, the accused was charged with Abetment to Suicide
under Section 36 of IPC.
- The case was presented before the trial court, where the accused was
acquitted and the testimonies of the witnesses and the parents of the
deceased as well as the declaration given by the victim was held invalid and
the reason given by the presiding judge was given that the deceased was in
no place to speak and there was no medical certificate to prove the medical
condition and fitness of the deceased.
- But in contrast to what the trial court said, the High Court considered
the testimony that was given by the witnesses and the parents. They also
gave due credibility to the dying declaration that was given by the victim
and did not give much emphasis on the medical condition of the deceased.
- The Supreme Court agreed with the high court in reversing the trial
court's decision and it also stated that the dying declaration was
admissible in the court. The appellate court also stated that in the present
case there are instances of abetment to suicide. The reason given by them
was that there was cruelty imposed by the accused on the victim. The court
also observed that threatening and harassment by the way of eve teasing
amounts to abetment to suicide.
- The Hon'ble court also discussed Article 14, Article 15 and Article 21
in relation to this case and said that the women also have the same room as
the males in the society.
- The Supreme Court also said that the high court has rightly exercised
its jurisdiction rightly and the higher court abides by this decision. And
consequently, the appeal got dismissed and the appellate-accused got
convicted under the Section 306 of IPC.
Counsel For Appellant: Mr. Sanchar Anand
- Whether the High Court is in its jurisdiction when it is exercising its
power as an appellate court and can it overturn an acquittal to a
- Whether it is appropriate to treat a dying pronouncement as a reliable
source of evidence?
- What is the scope and application of Section 306 of the Indian Penal
Counsel For Respondent: Mr. D.K. Thakur
- Mr.Anand argued that the decision given by the learned trial judge was
flawless because he had thoroughly examined the evidence and placed it in
- He further claimed that the trial court, after reviewing the medical
evidence and the victims' burn injuries, had correctly dismissed the dying
- It was further argued that, in such a fact circumstance, the High court
would be well advised not to interfere with the acquittal verdict if the
trial court had given compelling reasons for not relying on the deathbed
declaration and the testimony of the prosecution witnesses.
- He also argued that the High court should not have interfered with the
trial court's decision since the trial court's evaluation of evidence was
not perverse and the perspective conveyed by it was plausible.
Decision Of The Court
- But the learned counsel appearing for the State, Mr. D.K. Thakur,
claimed that the High Court had appreciated the evidence and found that the
conclusion pertaining to the victim's medical condition was wholly
- Thus he opined that the trial judge's acquittal was unsupportable and
therefore the court should give the stamp of approval.
The first issue that the court had to decide was the nature of the jurisdiction
of the high court while exercising its power as an appellate court on reversing
the judgment of acquittal to that of conviction.
The Supreme Court while deciding the first issue rightly said that in appeal
against acquittal, the High Court had full authority to review at large all
evidence and to reach the conclusion that upon such evidence the order of
acquittal to be reversed.
The Judicial precedents that the Supreme Court referred to while deciding this
Jadunath Singh and others v. State of Uttar Pradesh:
In this case a three-Judge bench of Supreme court has opined:
"This court has consistently taken the view that in an appeal against acquittal
the High Court has full power to review at large all the evidence and to reach
he conclusion that upon that evidence the order of acquittal should be reversed.
This power of the appellate court in an appeal against acquittal was formulated
by the judicial committee of the privy Council in Sheo Swarup v. King Emperor
and Nur Mohammad v. Emperor.
Girija Prasad (Lt.) by LRsv. State of MP
It was observed in this case that in an appeal against acquittal the appellate
court has every power to re-appriciate, review and reconsider the evidence as a
whole before it. The court further stated that it is, no doubt, true that there
is presumption of innocence in favor of the accused and that presumption is
reinforced by an order of acquittal recorded by the trial court, but that is not
the end of the matter, for it is for the appellate court to keep in view the
relevant principles of law, to reappriciate and reweigh the evidence as a whole
and to come to its own conclusion in accord with the principles of criminal
Jaswant Singh v. State of Haryana:
In this case, the principle for the appellate court to interfere was given. The
said principle is enumerated below -
"The principle to be followed by appellate courts considering an appeal against
an order of acquittal is to interfere only when there are compelling and
substantial reasons for doing so. If the order is clearly unreasonable it is a
compelling reason for interference."
Keeping in view the principles laid down in the aforesaid authorities and some
other authorities Hon'ble court shall scanned the approach of the High court and
adjudge the ultimate reversal of the trial court.
The second issue before the court was whether the dying declaration can be
treated as the reliable source of evidence or not ?
The Supreme court found no reason to disregard the dying declaration and
considered it to be reliable evidence. The court also discussed a legal maxim -
"Nemo moriturus praesumitur mentire" which meant that "a man will never meet his
maker with a lie in his mouth", this is the principle on which the dying
declarations are admitted in the evidence.
The court relied on the decision in Gulzari Lal v. State of Haryana in which the
court held that a valid dying declaration may be made without obtaining a
certificate fitness of the declarant by the medical officer.
In Laxman v. State of Maharashtra
, the Supreme court while stating the
law relating to the dying declaration, has succinctly held:
"A dying declaration can be oral or in writing and any adequate method of
communication whether by words or by signs or otherwise will suffice provided
the indication is positive and definite. In most cases, however, such statements
are made orally before death ensues and is reduced to writing by someone like a
Magistrate or a doctor or a police officer.
When it is recorded, no oath is necessary nor is the presence of a Magistrate
absolutely necessary, although to assure authenticity it is usual to call a
Magistrate, if available for recording the statement of a man about to die.
There is no requirement of law that a dying declaration must necessarily be made
to a Magistrate and when such statement is recorded by a Magistrate there is no
specified statutory form for such recording. Consequently, what evidential value
or weight has to be attached to such statement necessarily depends on the facts
and circumstances of each particular case.
What is essentially required is that the person who records a dying declaration
must be satisfied that the deceased was in a fit state of mind. Where it is
proved by the testimony of the Magistrate that the declarant was fit to make the
statement even without examination by the doctor the declaration can be acted
upon provided the court ultimately holds the same to be voluntary and truthful.
A certification by the doctor is essentially a rule of caution and therefore the
voluntary and truthful nature of the declaration can be established otherwise."
The learned counsel for he appellant contended that when the deceased 100%
bodily burn, she was not in the position to make any statement to her brother.
He also referred to the case of Mafabhai Nagarbhai Raval v. State of Gujarat
where the victim who suffered 99% bodily burn was deemed to be capable enough of
making a dying declaration.
And the hon'ble court also opined that unless there is no inherent and apparent
defect, the trial court should not substitute it's opinion for that of the
doctor. And keeping this in view the dying declaration was found to be worthy of
reliance. In the present case the dying declaration was supported by the
witnesses and thus the High courts decision to reverse the trial courts decision
was rightly done.
The last aspect that the court addressed was whether this case comes under the
ambit of Section 306 of IPC. The accused provided that his case was beyond the
ambit of this section. Because when we read the section the word "abetment" is
not explained under the section. And in this context, the definition of abetment
that is provided under Section 107 of Indian Penal Court is applicable.
According to one of the two explanations of his section, a person who by willful
misinterpretation or by willful concealment of a material fact which he is bound
to disclose, voluntarily causes or procures, or attempts to cause or procure, a
thing to be done, is said to mitigate the doing of that thing. The second
explanation is that, whoever either prior to or at the time of commission of an
act, does anything in order to facilitate the commission of that act, and
thereby felicitate the commission thereof is said to aid the doing of that act.
When we look further into it, we find the case of Randhir Singh and another v.
State of Punjab, where the stare had observed that abetment involves a mental
process of instigating a person or intentionally aiding that person in doing a
thing. More active role in this can be described as instigating or aiding the
doing of a thing is required bore a person can be said to be abetting the
commission of an offence under Section 36 IPC.
Another instance that we can find is in Praveen Pradhan v. State of
Uttaranchal & another
where it was ruled that no straitjacket formula can be
laid down to find out as to whether in a particular there has been instigation
which led the person to commit suicide. In some cases there may be direct
evidence us in most there is no direct evidence which may have direct nexus to
the suicide. Thus, in such cases the inference has to be drawn from the
circumstances that would lead to the person committing suicide.
Keeping the above mentioned legal principles, the court was required to
determine whether or not there was abetment in committing suicide. The court
observed that a casual remark that is likely to cause harassment will not come
under the purview of instigation. A mere word in fit of anger will also not be
said to be abetment. There needs to be a serious action that can cause the
victim to end their life.
In the current case when the principle was applied, it was found that the
continuous course of conduct by the accused created a situation as a consequence
of which the deceased was left with no other option except to commit suicide.
The accused played an active role in this. The court also did not find any
instance which suggests that it was the personal life of the victim that led up
to this and not the actions done by the accused. The accused also played a role
in tarnishing the self esteem and self respect of the girl which eventually led
to her committing suicide.
The final decision of the court was that the High Court was absolutely right in
reversing the judgment of acquittal and imposing a sentence. It also held that
the High court has rightly exercised its jurisdiction. Consequently, the appeal,
being devoid of any merit was dismissed by the Supreme Court.
This judgment can be regarded as flawless, especially in light of the country's
women's rights. Years of patriarchy, gender indifferences, and other causes have
all contributed to women being subjugated and regarded as second-class citizens
to males. In simple terms, violence against women refers to any act of
This causes physical, mental, and psychological suffering or harm to women, and
it encompasses a wide spectrum of behaviors that deprive a woman of her liberty,
dignity, and right to live in peace. Gender-based violence is a reflection of
gender imbalance and inequality, as well as a societal assignment of women to a
subordinate social rank. The consequences of these crimes are terrible and
horrifying, and they can have both short- and long-term implications on a
woman's physical and emotional health.
As a result, this type of decision provides a glimpse of hope to women who have
been suffering since the dawn of humanity. It is a positive step toward
preserving women's dignity. The judgment emphasizes a woman's right to her
personal space, which she has the same as a male under Article 14, which
guarantees equality, and Article 15, which forbids discrimination on the basis
This also pertains to the underlying concepts of gender sensitivity and equal
rights, as well as the idea that men and women should have equal access to
justice. The Supreme Court of India also observed that eve teasing deprives a
woman of equal rights to her male counterpart because he does not have the same
freedom, dignity. Article 21 of the Indian Constitution guarantees us the right
to a dignified existence. This right also encompasses the right to a decent and
pleasant way of life.
When a woman is teased or coerced into a love or relationship she doesn't
desire, it can deprive her of both physical and emotional health in a variety of
ways. It deprives her of the chance to live a trouble-free and serene life. It
also focuses primarily on her freedom to choose, which should be considered and
honored legally and socially.
Her decision to reject love or overtures from a guy is an undeniable right since
it affects her right to life, and no one, even her relatives or friends, can
compel or force her to do anything she does not want to do, which is something
the court is also attempting to pressurize her to do. As a result, the court has
declared "male chauvinism," "egoism," and "masculinity" to be threats to women's
rights and dignity.