Boss Not Responsible If Overworked Employee Commits Suicide: Supreme Court

| June 27 , 2018 , 12:12 IST

The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed that if an employee, depressed due to office pressure and workload commits suicide, the superiors or boss of the employee cannot be held responsible for abetment.

The apex court said that a superior officer assigning work to an employee could not be assumed to have a criminal bent of mind intending to harass the employee or force him or her to end his life.

The statements from the Supreme Court came as it rejected an argument made by the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court that held an officer culpable even if there was no direct abetment on the grounds that the conditions could lead to unbearable mental tension for the employee.

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In August 2017, Kishor Parashar, who worked in the Aurangabad office of the deputy director of education in Maharashtra government committed suicide, after which his wife filed a complaint with the police accusing her husband's superior officer of abetting the suicide.

The wife alleged that the superior would assign a heavy workload to Parashar, which would require him to work till late evening. She claimed that the senior would call Parashar to work at odd hours and on holidays and even stopped his salary for a month and threatened to stop increments. She said that her husband would remain silent at home and that his superior was responsible for his suicide.

After the Aurangabad police registered the FIR, the senior officer moved the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court to quash the FIR.

The High Court on January 23, however, rejected the plea to quash the FIR.

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“The facts indicate that there was no direct abetment and the applicants cannot have any intention that the deceased should commit suicide. 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,” said the HC.

The superior officer appealed before the Supreme Court which found the charges of abetting suicide against the superior officer untenable.

“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),” said Justice Lalit, who authored the judgment.