In a significant judgment that reinforces the gravity of the offence of abetment of suicide, the Supreme Court of India has ruled that cases under Section 306 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) cannot be quashed solely on the basis of a settlement between the parties involved. The bench, comprising Justices Indira Banerjee and V. Ramasubramanian, emphasized the broader implications of such offences on society and underscored the necessity for judicial scrutiny even in the presence of a mutual agreement.


The deceased person’s wife, who committed suicide, was the appellant. A formal complaint was filed by the deceased’s cousin against the appellant for aiding and abetting suicide under Section 306 IPC. 

The deceased left a handwritten note in which it was alleged that they had been defrauded of more than two crore rupees, according to the findings of the FIR. The accused had refused the deceased’s repeated pleas for the money’s return. The deceased felt obliged to take the extreme action because of these reasons.

The case that prompted this ruling involved an appeal to quash criminal proceedings under Section 306 IPC based on a settlement between the accused and the complainant’s family. The High Court had initially accepted the plea and quashed the proceedings. However, the Supreme Court was approached to review this decision.

Legal Framework of Section 306 IPC

Section 306 of the IPC deals with the abetment of suicide. According to this provision, anyone who abets the commission of suicide shall be punished with imprisonment, which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to a fine. Abetment involves inciting, encouraging, or aiding an individual to commit suicide, and is considered a serious criminal offence due to its severe implications on the sanctity of life.

Supreme Court’s Ruling

The Court observed that the facts and circumstances of each case will determine whether or not aiding and abetting suicide is proven. The accused and complainant had reached a settlement, thus the court overturned the FIR, noting that the High Court had not investigated whether the charge was proven.

According to the Court, Section 306 IPC would make even a subtle encouragement to commit suicide illegal.

The Court invoked its ruling in Monica Kumar (Dr.) v. State of U.P. (2008) 8 SCC 781, whereby it was determined that inherent jurisdiction under Section 482 of the Cr.P.C. must be used judiciously, cautiously, and with caution, and only when it is warranted by the particular standards established in the section itself.

The Court further observed,“Offence under Section 306 of the IPC of abetment to commit suicide is a grave, non-compoundable offence.  Of course, the inherent power of the High Court under Section 482 of the Cr.P.C. is wide and can even be exercised to quash criminal proceedings relating to non-compoundable offences, to secure the ends of justice or to prevent abuse of the process of Court.”

It was further stated that,“Heinous or serious crimes, which are not private in nature and have a serious impact on society cannot be quashed on the basis of a compromise between the offender and the complainant and/or the victim.  Crimes like murder, rape, burglary, dacoity and even abetment to commit suicide are neither private nor civil in nature. Such crimes are against the society.”

In its detailed judgment, the Supreme Court highlighted several key points:

1. Nature of the Offence: The Court emphasized that abetment of suicide is a serious offence, not merely against an individual but against society at large. The act of abetment directly impacts the sanctity of life, making it imperative for such cases to undergo thorough judicial scrutiny, irrespective of any settlements reached between the parties involved.

2. Public Interest and Judicial Precedent: The bench referenced previous judgments that established the principle that certain offences, due to their gravity, cannot be quashed merely on the basis of a compromise. For instance, in Gian Singh v. State of Punjab (2012), the Court held that while quashing of criminal cases involving non-compoundable offences based on settlements could be considered, it was not permissible for serious offences which have wider societal implications.

3. Role of Judicial Scrutiny: Justice Indira Banerjee stressed the importance of judicial scrutiny in cases involving serious offences like abetment of suicide. She highlighted that permitting such offences to be quashed based on settlements could set a dangerous precedent and undermine the legal framework designed to deter such crimes.

4. Implications for the Legal System: Justice V. Ramasubramanian emphasized that the integrity of the legal system could be compromised if serious offences were quashed easily. He pointed out that the judiciary has a duty to ensure that justice is served and that the law acts as a deterrent against severe crimes.

Relevant Case Laws

The Supreme Court referred to several significant judgments to support its ruling:

1. State of Madhya Pradesh v. Laxmi Narayan & Ors. (2019): In this case, the Court reiterated that the power to quash criminal proceedings involving non-compoundable offences should be exercised sparingly and with caution, particularly in cases involving serious offences that impact society at large.

2. Narinder Singh & Ors. v. State of Punjab & Anr. (2014): The Court held that the quashing of criminal proceedings based on a settlement should not be exercised in cases involving heinous and serious offences like murder, rape, or offences affecting the societal moral fabric.

3. Gian Singh v. State of Punjab (2012): This judgment underscored the principle that the quashing of non-compoundable offences based on settlements should be avoided in cases involving serious crimes, as such offences have far-reaching impacts beyond the immediate parties involved.

Analysis and Implications

The Supreme Court’s ruling is a critical reaffirmation of the judiciary’s commitment to upholding the sanctity of life and ensuring that serious offences like abetment of suicide are dealt with the gravity they deserve. By refusing to quash such cases based on settlements, the Court has sent a strong message that the rule of law and the protection of fundamental rights take precedence over individual agreements.

This decision has several implications:

1. Deterrence: The ruling reinforces the deterrent effect of the law against abetment of suicide. Potential offenders will be aware that such cases cannot be easily settled outside the judicial process.

2. Judicial Responsibility: The judgment underscores the judiciary’s role in ensuring justice is served, particularly in cases involving serious offences. It highlights the importance of thorough judicial scrutiny to prevent any miscarriage of justice.

3. Societal Impact: By emphasizing the societal implications of abetment of suicide, the Court has reinforced the principle that the legal system must protect the collective moral and ethical fabric of society.

4. Future Precedents: This ruling sets a clear precedent for future cases, indicating that settlements in serious criminal cases will not be sufficient grounds for quashing proceedings. This will guide lower courts in handling similar cases, ensuring consistency and fairness in the judicial process.


The Supreme Court’s decision to not quash offences under Section 306 IPC based on settlements underscores the seriousness with which such cases should be treated. The ruling aligns with the broader principles of justice and the need to uphold the rule of law, particularly in offences that have far-reaching societal impacts. By reinforcing the necessity of judicial scrutiny in serious criminal cases, the Court has ensured that the sanctity of life and the integrity of the legal system are preserved. This landmark judgment will serve as a crucial reference for future cases, reaffirming the judiciary’s commitment to delivering justice and maintaining societal order.

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