Boss not guilty if employee kills self due to excess workload, rules Supreme Court

In a major ruling, the Supreme Court has said that if an employee takes the extreme step of ending his/her life due to heavy workload at the office, his superior cannot be held accused of abetting the suicide. Rejecting an argument put forth by Bombay High Court’s Aurangabad bench that the accused boss or senior officer should be held accused as the situation that he creates for his junior, even if not deliberate, could lead to a situation in which that person takes that extreme step, the apex court said that the superior can not be adjudged a criminal if he assigns a load of work to an employee.
The issue came to fore when a Maharashtra government employee named Kishor Parashar killed himself in August 2017. His wife lodged a police complaint alleging that her husband’s superior officer at the office of the deputy director of education in Aurangabad used to put lot of pressure for which he had to stay in office beyond his duty hours. Apart from this, Parashar was also allegedly forced to work at odd hours and even on holidays. She also alleged that his salary was stopped and the senior officer warned that he would stop his increment.
Aurangabad police had registered the FIR based on Parashar’s wife complaints. Subsequently, the senior officer had filed place at the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay HC for seeking quashing of the FIR.
However, the High Court had on January 23 rejected the plea to quash the FIR. The HC had then observed that there was no direct abetment and the applicants cannot have any intention that the deceased should commit suicide. It had stressed on the fact that even when the accused persons have no such intention, if they create a situation causing mental tension so as to drive the person to commit suicide, they can be said to be instigating the accused to commit suicide.Unperturbed by the HC ruling, the senior officer approached the top court. Maharashtra government’s standing counsel Nishant Katneswarkar had appealed against the plea in front of a bench comprising Arun Mishra and U U Lalit. The Supreme Court bench had termed the HC’s rationale behind the verdict as untenable and quashed the FIR.Justice Lalit while pronouncing the judgment said, “It is true that if a situation is created deliberately so as to drive a person to commit suicide, there would be room for attracting Section 306 of the IPC (abetment to suicide). However, the facts on record in the present case are inadequate and insufficient (to reach that conclusion).”