Judicial Dictionary

Instigating any person- What is instigation ? Explain

To constitute “instigation”, a person who instigates another has to provoke, incite, urge or encourage doing of an act by the other by “goading” or “urging forward”.

Section 306 of the IPC reads as under :

“306. abetment of suicide

If any person commits suicide, whoever abets the commission of such suicide, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.”

From a bare reading of the provision, it is clear that to constitute an offence under Section 306, IPC, the prosecution has to establish: (i) that a person committed suicide, and (ii) that such suicide was abetted by the accused. In other words, an offence under Section 306 would stand only if there is an “abetment” for the commission of the crime. The parameters of “abetment” have been stated in Section 107 of the IPC, which defines abetment of a thing as follows :

“107. abetment of a thing

A person abets the doing of a thing, who-

First- Instigates any person to do that thing; or

Secondly- Engages with one or more other person or persons in any conspiracy for the doing of that thing, if an act or illegal omission takes place in pursuance of that conspiracy, and in order to the doing of that thing; or

Thirdly- Intentionally aids, by any act or illegal omission, the doing of that thing. Explanation 1- A person who by wilful misrepresentation, or by wilful 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 instigate the doing of that thing.”

As per the Section, a person can be said to have abetted in doing a thing, if he, firstly, instigates any person to do that thing; or secondly, engages with one or more other person or persons in any conspiracy for the doing of that thing, if an act or illegal omission takes place in pursuance of that conspiracy, and in order to the doing of that thing; or thirdly, intentionally aids, by any act or illegal omission, the doing of that thing. Explanation to Section 107 states that any wilful misrepresentation or wilful concealment of material fact which he is bound to disclose, may also come within the contours of “abetment”. It is manifest that under all the three situations, direct involvement of the person or persons concerned in the commission of offence of suicide is essential to bring home the offence under Section 306 of the IPC.

Therefore, the question for consideration is whether the allegations levelled against the appellant in the FIR and the material collected during the course of investigations, would attract any one of the ingredients of Section 107, IPC?

As per clause firstly in the said Section, a person can be said to have abetted in doing of a thing, who “instigates” any person to do that thing. The word “instigate” is not defined in the IPC. The meaning of the said word was considered by this Court in Ramesh Kumar vs. State of Chhattisgarh, (2001) 9 SCC 618. Speaking for the three-Judge Bench, R.C. Lahoti, J. (as His Lordship then was) said that instigation is to goad, urge forward, provoke, incite or encourage to do “an act”. To satisfy the requirement of “instigation”, though it is not necessary that actual words must be used to that effect or what constitutes “instigation” must necessarily and specifically be suggestive of the consequence. Yet a reasonable certainty to incite the consequence must be capable of being spelt out. Where the accused had, by his acts or omission or by a continued course of conduct, created such circumstances that the deceased was left with no other option except to commit suicide, in which case, an “instigation” may have to be inferred. A word uttered in a fit of anger or emotion without intending the consequences to actually follow, cannot be said to be instigation.

Thus, to constitute “instigation”, a person who instigates another has to provoke, incite, urge or encourage doing of an act by the other by “goading” or “urging forward”. The dictionary meaning of the word “goad” is “a thing that stimulates someone into action: provoke to action or reaction” (See: Concise Oxford English Dictionary); “to keep irritating or annoying somebody until he reacts” (See: Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary – 7th Edition). Similarly, “urge” means to advise or try hard to persuade somebody to do something or to make a person to move more quickly and or in a particular direction, especially by pushing or forcing such person. Therefore, a person who instigates another has to “goad” or “urge forward” the latter with intention to provoke, incite or encourage the doing of an act by the latter. As observed in Ramesh Kumar’s case (supra), where the accused by his acts or by a continued course of conduct creates such circumstances that the deceased was left with no other option except to commit suicide, an “instigation” may be inferred. In other words, in order to prove that the accused abetted commission of suicide by a person, it has to be established that: (i) the accused kept on irritating or annoying the deceased by words, deeds or wilful omission or conduct which may even be a wilful silence until the deceased reacted or pushed or forced the deceased by his deeds, words or wilful omission or conduct to make the deceased move forward more quickly in a forward direction; and (ii) that the accused had the intention to provoke, urge or encourage the deceased to commit suicide while acting in the manner noted above. Undoubtedly, presence of mens rea is the necessary concomitant of instigation.

In the background of this legal position, we may advert to the case at hand. The question as to what is the cause of a suicide has no easy answers because suicidal ideation and behaviours in human beings are complex and multifaceted. Different individuals in the same situation react and behave differently because of the personal meaning they add to each event, thus accounting for individual vulnerability to suicide. Each individual’s suicidability pattern depends on his inner subjective experience of mental pain, fear and loss of self-respect. Each of these factors are crucial and exacerbating contributor to an individual’s vulnerability to end his own life, which may either be an attempt for self-protection or an escapism from intolerable self.


Refer: Chitresh Kumar Chopra (SC) -AIR 2010 SC 1446 : (2009) 13 SCR 230 : (2009) 16 SCC 605 : JT 2009 (10) SC 698 : (2009) 11 SCALE 24