In the Matter of Manish Agarwal v. State of Odisha The orders of the Sub-Divisional Judicial Magistrate whereby cognizance of the offences under Sections 302, 506, 201, and 204 read with Sections 120-B and 34 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 were taken were challenged in two criminal petitions brought under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. The petitioner, who was the then Collector, hired the deceased to serve as his assistant. While on duty, the deceased went missing on December 27, 2019. The fire crew found the deceased’s corpse near the Satiguda dam site. After an investigation and subsequent inquest, post-mortem results revealed that the victim had died from complications from antemortem drowning. Additionally, it showed that the corpse was free of any wounds or signs of violence. According to the viscera report, no alcohol, narcotics, or toxic substances were found. The dead man’s wife filed a complaint, stating that on the day of the incident, her husband went to the accused’s house office at around 7:30 A.M., stayed there for over half an hour, and then went back. However, he went to the accused’s home once again at around 10 A.M. and did not come back. The accused was then charged with being the cause of the deceased’s death. In accordance with Section 156(3) of the CrPC, the S.D.J.M. sent the complaint to the I.I.C. for filing an FIR and opening an inquiry. The final report from the investigating officer said that the dead had been agitated about work-related issues and had jumped into the Satiguda Dam to end his life. The wife of the deceased filed a protest petition, and the S.D.J.M. recorded her statement in accordance with Section 200 of the CrPC and took cognizance of the aforementioned violations.
Analysis of Court Decision
The criminal petition was partially granted by the Orissa High Court Single Judge Bench of Justice Sashikanta Mishra, who also changed the impugned judgement only to the extent that it replaced the IPC crimes under Sections 302, 506, 201, and 204 with those under Sections 306, 120-B, and 34.
The Court noted that allegations against the accused and two other people of having encouraged the deceased to commit suicide by their actions were made in the complaint petition’s initial statement of the complainant, the statement of other witnesses, as well as the objection affidavit submitted before the Court. The charge sheet further said that the deceased had committed suicide by leaping into the Satiguda Dam because he was angry over work-related issues, which the court also observed. The Court also found that there was no other logical explanation offered by the inquiry beyond the deceased’s anger about his service-related issues for considering such a drastic course of action.
The offenses punishable under Sections 302, 506, 201, and 204 of the IPC were, in the opinion of the Court, not made out at first glance. The court did note that the offence had been properly recognised by the lower court under Sections 120-B and 34 of the IPC. Therefore, the criminal petition was partially granted, and the challenged decision was only changed to the extent that the IPC’s Sections 306, 120-B, and 34 were substituted for Sections 302, 506, and 201 crimes. The Court gave the Court below instructions on how to proceed and how to attempt to resolve the issue as quickly as possible, ideally within eight months.