Demanding unpaid loan doesn’t attract abetment to suicide charge: Bombay HC

Narsi BenwalUpdated: Saturday, March 19, 2022, 09:55 AM IST
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Bombay HC | Photo: Representative Image

MUMBAI: The Bombay High Court recently said that merely demanding unpaid money won't amount to harassment or an instigation to commit suicide. The HC accordingly granted bail to a Thane-based resident booked for allegedly abetting the suicide of a young man, who failed to repay a hand loan of Rs 9 lakh.

A bench of Justice Bharati Dangre was hearing an application filed by Santosh Gurav seeking bail as he is behind the bars from July 2020.

As per the prosecution case, Gurav had lended Rs 13 lakh to one Mandar Veralkar, who had mortgaged a friend's house as a surety to the hand loan in 2018. Later he again paid Rs 9 lakh to Veralkar in 2019.

Notably, Gurav, possessed a licence for money lending under the Maharashtra Money Lending (Regulation) Act, 2014.

Veralkar's mother stated before the police that her son paid Rs 17 lakh against the loan of Rs 13 lakh, which had an interest rate of 12.5 per cent. But despite paying back the entire loan amount, his mother alleged, that Gurav kept harassing her son due to which he committed suicide in March 2020.

However, before Justice Dangre, Gurav pointed out that Veralkar had repaid the loan amount of Rs 13 lakh along with the accrued interest but failed to pay anything from the other loan which was to the tune of Rs 9 lakh.

Noting the facts of the case, Justice Dangre said that Veralkar's mother didn't mention anything about the second loan in her statements to the police, which were given in June 2020, i.e. after three months of her son's death.

"It is a settled position of law that if a financial institution or any person under the valid license for money-lending, lends some money to a borrower and if the amount is not repaid and if he seeks its repayment, it cannot be construed as a harassment and, surely, not an instigation to commit suicide," Justice Dangre pointed out in her orders.

"Merely demanding money back, cannot be construed to be falling in either of the ingredients of section 306 which attracts abetment to suicide charge," the judge said, adding, "In the wake of the facts, when the amount of Rs 9 lakhs advanced to the deceased remained unpaid till this date and if the applicant (Gurav) was demanding back the amount, prima facie, he cannot be found guilty of offence of abetting the suicide."

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