Parliament to Repeal Attempt to Commit Suicide under Section 309 IPC

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The Government has reached consensus to legalize attempt to suicide by repealing Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code. According to the Code, any person who attempts to commit suicide shall be penalized with imprisonment to an extent of one year or with fine or both. Sri Haribhai Parathibhai Chaudhary, Union Minister for Home Affairs said that the government had taken decision to delete Section 309 from the Code. The recommendation in this regard of the Law Commission is supported by 18 states and 4 Union territories. The Cabinet note connected with Indian Penal Code (Amendment) Bill has been moved to all ministers by the Department of Home Affairs.
In 2008, the Law Commission had proposed in the 210th report to repeal Section 309 from the statute book. The Law Commission was also of the opinion that attempt to commit suicide is an expression of diseases state of mind that needs to be treated. Special care should be given to the person shaving such tendency and punishment will not serve the purpose. But Bihar, Delhi, Sikkim, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab have reserved their opinion regarding the repeal of the section. The State of Bihar expressed its concern over suicide bombers and terrorists who often commit suicide to wash off evidence as distinguished from persons attempting to suicide due to mental unhealthiness. The State raised its need for separate legislation covering the former category of persons. But the officials replied that such persons will have to undergo criminal proceedings under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.
It was also stated that like India only some of the nations including Bangladesh, Singapore, Pakistan and Malaysia are continuing with this unwanted principle. But other States opined that when Section 309 is annulled, attempt to suicide will definitely reduce the authority of the law enforcement agencies while cases like self-immolation to coerce the government to accept their illegal or unjust demands come before them. In addition, the States like Madhya Pradesh and Delhi made its note that when Section 309 is deleted, Section 306 that provides punishment for abetment to suicide will automatically get watered down and the abettor will have to be set free for unsuccessful attempt. Punjab, though was in favor of such crossing out, suggested that people who attempt to commit suicide should be rehabilitated by giving adequate medical care. The Government had promised that prior to the initiation draft amendment bill, the Government will consider all the suggestions and views of States.
In 1971, while submitting the 42nd Report the Law Commission had proposed for the deletion of Section 309 and as a result, IPC (Amendment) Bill, 1978 was approved by Rajya Sabha. But the bill lapsed as the Lok Sabha was dissolved and the bill could not be passed. Subsequent to the Supreme Court verdict in Gian Kaur case in 1997, the Commission submitted the 156th report where the annulling of Section 309 was strongly suggested. However, the present recommendation had been taken into consideration by the Government. During August session, Kiren Rijiju, Minister for State Home Affairs pointed out in Lok Sabha that the Government is supposing to repeal Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code according to the suggestion made by the Law Commission by altering to some other provisions of IPC and Criminal procedure Code after discussing with all stakeholders.
The Commission emphatically stressed for the erasure of Section 309 as the provision is inhuman and heartless. No matter whether such annulment is violative of the Constitution or not, the main object would be to lighten the troubled people from their affliction. R K Singh, BJP MP pointed out that the people who attempt to commit suicide need counseling and not legal action. Apart from favoring opinions, the Government is also facing criticisms from persons who are against decriminalizing attempt to suicide. Such people are of the opinion that this decision will increase the number of suicides.