According to the Penal Code, a person abetting suicide shall be punished with imprisonment up to 10 years
The top official of Bangladesh’s one of the largest business groups has been accused of abetting the suicide of a 21-year-old woman, who was found dead at a flat in Dhaka’s upscale neighbourhood of Gulshan.
Mosarat Jahan Munia, a college student, was found hanging from a ceiling fan in her flat, where police said she used to live alone, on April 26.
In a case filed by the family, Sayem Sobhan Anvir, the managing director of Bashundhara Group, has been accused of abetting the suicide of Munia.
Sayem had been involved in a “romantic relationship” with Munia and used to visit the Gulshan flat, according to details of the case filed by Munia’s sister Nusrat Jahan Tania.
Based on observations by doctors who conducted the autopsy, Dhaka Metropolitan Police Deputy Commissioner (Gulshan Division) Sudip Kumar Chakraborty told the media: “It is believed that she committed suicide.”
According to the 306 Section of the Penal Code 1860, a person abetting the suicide of another person shall be punished with imprisonment up to 10 years and shall also be liable to fine. Abetting a suicide is a non-bailable charge.
Speaking to Dhaka Tribune, Supreme Court Advocate Barrister Rashna Imam said, “Section 306 makes abetment of suicide a criminal offence. The abetment has to be proved beyond reasonable doubt.”
Abetment has been defined in Section 107 of the Penal Code which is defined as the conduct that instigates the victim to commit suicide, she added.
For instance, if the victim commits suicide due to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment meted out to her by a person or group, that person or group can be tried under Section 306, Barrister Rashna mentioned.
“Cruel treatment may be abuse [physical or otherwise], humiliation, continuous taunting, demand for money or dowry, in the case of a married woman, threat of leaking intimate photos or videos, etc. to sustain a conviction, the cruel treatment must have occurred soon before the victim’s death.”
Abetment may also be conspiracy, that is, when two or more persons together deliberately engage in an act or a series of acts to cause the victim to commit suicide, she added.
“Intentionally aiding suicide by an act or an omission may be considered as abetment as well,” the barrister informed.
Similar terms can also be found in the Women and Child Repression Prevention Act 2000, under Section 9 (Ka) which states “abetment in committing suicide of women.”
Section 306 rarely used in getting convictions
According to media reports, only one such case was found in recent years where the Section 306 of The Penal Code, 1860, was used to get a conviction.
On February 27, 2017, a Dhaka speedy trial tribunal sentenced one Asif Prisley to 10 years' rigorous imprisonment for provoking his wife Wahida Sifat, a graduate of Rajshahi University, to commit suicide in 2015.
Family members of Sifat claimed that she was tortured to death but the judge said that the ‘prosecution failed to prove the charges of torturing and killing Sifat for dowry’ while pronouncing the verdict.
In February 2021, the Appellate Division granted bail to the Sifat and allowed him to appeal against a High Court directive issued in September 2020.
The trial court’s verdict was scrapped by the High Court, which ordered the Dhaka Speedy Trial Tribunal to hold a fresh trial.