In a bid to achieve healthy work environments, the Supreme Court has ruled that a superior in a workplace would not be responsible if his employee is depressed due to the workload and commits suicide.The Supreme Court said that the superior cannot be accused of abetment of suicide of the employee, as it cannot be said that the superior allotted the work with a criminal bent of mind, with an intention to harass the employee and cause him to end his life.
The decision was pursuant to reversing an order of the Aurangabad Bench of the Bombay High Court. The incident took place when a man working in the Aurangabad office of the deputy director of education in the Maharashtra government committed suicide in August 2017.
The complaint was filed by his wife, accusing the superior. In her complaint, she has stated that the superior used to give him excess work, requiring him to stay back till late evening. She also alleged that the superior used to call her husband at odd hours as well on holidays in relation to the work. The senior officer sought quashing of the FIR filed with the police before the High Court.
The High Court stated that even if there was no direct abetment or any intention to drive the victim to commit suicide, still if there were circumstances creating any kind of mental tension for the employee, the superior can be held liable. This view of the High Court was rejected by a division bench of the Supreme Court consisting of Justice Arun Mishra and Justice U. U. Lalit. In their judgment, it was held that the FIR lacks the basic requirements to attract section 306 of IPC, i.e. abetment to suicide and therefore the superior cannot be held liable.