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OVER TWO years after four members of a family allegedly killed themselves in Oshiwara, the main accused in the case was granted bail by the Bombay High Court recently. The High Court said “no presumption could be drawn” that Tinku Kishore Singh was responsible for the death of any of the victims. Singh was arrested on charges including abetment of suicide in 2015 after one of the four deceased, Bharati, stated in a video she had recorded before her suicide that his “harassment” had pushed her to take the step.
On February 20, 2015, Singh had approached the Oshiwara police, informing them that Bharati, who worked as a domestic help in his home along with her brother Somnath, had committed suicide in the drawing room of his house. Singh had also told the police that he had attempted to contact their mother, Shikha, who lived nearby, to inform her about the death, but had been unsuccessful. The police went to Shikha’s home along with Singh and forcefully broke open the door when nobody answered the bell. They found the dead bodies of Shikha and her partner, Manoj Patel, in the house.
The police also found video recordings on a memory card in their search, where all the four had separately spoken about their decision to commit suicide. While Bharati had blamed Singh, Somnath had said he was killing himself because of Bharati’s step. Shikha had said she was killing herself as her children were dead. The court observed that the transcript of the video recordings was not made part of the chargesheet by the police. The prosecution, however, told the court that the officer had gone through the recordings and found that Patel had said he was committing suicide as he was tired of his illness.
Bharati in the recording had claimed she was sexually abused by Singh and he was forcing her to marry him. She had said she wanted to leave the job, but was scared because of his threats. The prosecution submitted that because of the harassment, Bharati was left with ‘no alternative’ but to commit suicide. Singh, through his advocates, submitted before the HC that he could not be held responsible “for having abetted, instigated or facilitated the commission of the planned suicide”.
Singh also told the court that he had not met Shikha or Patel for a very long time prior to the suicide, nor was there any material to show that Bharati was in touch with the two, to indicate a “proximity of any cause” for them to plan and commit the suicide on the same day. Singh also relied on statements made by relatives of Shikha, who claimed that she had told them that Singh was in love with Bharati and had planned to marry her soon. Singh submitted that the video recordings do not indicate when the abuse took place or whether he had taken coercive steps to force her to get married, or detained or confined her. He submitted that since Somnath was also an adult, he could have taken steps to rescue his sister, if that was the case.
“It appears that the whole incident of mass commission of suicide is shrouded in mystery,” the court observed. It further said, “…this Court is of the opinion that to attract the offence under Section 306 (abetment to suicide) of the IPC, the accused ought to have necessarily committed an act which would connote complicity of the accused in the commission of suicide of the victim. At this stage, it would be necessary to consider whether there was a direct nexus between the cause and the object.
In the absence of any nexus between a cause and object prima facie, no presumption could be drawn, that the applicant herein was responsible for the suicidal death of Somnath, Shikha or Manoj Patel, “ the High Court observed. Singh was arrested on February 21, 2015 on charges under Sections 306 (abetment to commit suicide), 354A (sexual harassment), 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code by the Oshiwara police.
The police filed a chargesheet against him in May 2015 and also applied additional charges including those for sections 376 (rape), 323 (punishment for voluntary causing hurt) and other sections of the Information Technology Act, 2005. The court has allowed Singh bail on surety of Rs 1 lakh, while restricting his travel outside Mumbai, Thane and Palghar without permission of the court. Before the trial court, while charges have been framed against Singh, the trial is yet to begin.