The owner and an accountant of a trading company were sentenced to three years imprisonment and fined a total of Rs 1.6 lakh by a city court for abetment of an employee’s suicide in December 2001.
Sanjay Srivastava had been employed as marketing officer of the company for nine years before he committed suicide by consuming aluminium phosphate tablets in 2001.
V K Traders, an East Delhi-based private company was owned by Vijay Sukhija. Srivastava’s suicide note blamed Sukhija and accountant Uttam Duggal for making death threats after he approached the labour court, seeking an increase in wages. The note alleged that the two convicts forced Srivastava to sign a blank paper.
“I was summoned to the office and unparliamentary language was used against me. I was forced to sign the blank papers by the office accountant and the owner. They said: ‘If you don’t sign then I can get you killed by any notorious person’,” the suicide note, reportedly found in Srivastava’s pocket, said.
Additional Sessions Judge T R Naval said Sukhija and Duggal had abetted the suicide of Srivastava by their conduct and intimidation.
“It is held that prosecution has successfully proved its case beyond any suspicion or reasonable shadow of doubt against Sukhija and Duggal. Both the accused, by their behaviour, conduct and intimidation, abetted Srivastava to commit suicide,” the court said.
The court also awarded compensation to Srivastava’s wife. “A sum of Rs 1 lakh will be given to the widow of Sanjay Srivastava,” the court said.
His brother-in-law, who had also been working in the firm, told the court that Srivastava and other employees had been abused by Sukhija and had approached the labour commission. He testified that the insults and scolding got worse when a labour inspector came to their office and asked Sukhija to increase their wages.
“Sukhija used to say to them that they should either work like a donkey or leave the job,” the witness said in his testimony. Srivastava’s wife had also testified that he had become increasingly unhappy with his job, but was unable to quit due to financial constraints.
The court awarded lenient sentences to Sukhija (56) and Duggal (36), “keeping in view the submissions and all relevant facts and circumstances in which the accused committed crime, it would be appropriate if lenient view in sentence is taken and victim is compensated”. The IPC prescribes a maximum punishment of