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Millennium Post

Attempted suicide no more a crime

Minister of State for Home Haribhai Parathibhai Chaudhary stated this in reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha saying that the government has decided to drop Section 309 from the IPC after 18 states and four Union Territories backed the recommendation of the Law Commission of India in this regard.

Chaudhary stated in the reply, “Law Commission of India, in its 210th Report, had recommended that Section 309 (attempt to commit suicide) of IPC needs to be effaced from the statute book. As law and order is a state subject, views of States/UTs were requested on the recommendations of the Law Commission. 18 states and 4 Union Territory administrations have supported that Section 309 of the IPC may be deleted. Keeping in view the responses from the states/UTs, it has been decided to delete Section 309 of IPC from the statute book.”

A person who survives a suicide attempt was to be punished with a one-year jail term and a fine under a rule in the Indian Penal Code but now that will be removed upon a recommendation from the Law Commission. The move will pave the way for the release of human rights activist Irom Sharmila, who has been on hunger strike for the past 14 years.

The Home Ministry had said in August that the process of “decriminalising” suicide was under way and all states had been asked to give their opinion, as they have jurisdiction over crime. The Law Commission has reportedly said attempting suicide is the “manifestation of a diseased condition of mind” that needs treatment and care rather than punishment.

Critics of the law say that it is cruel to punish a person who has been driven to desperation and has failed in his attempt to end his life.

States that have opposed the move have argued that it is difficult to stop people who sit on fast or try to set themselves on fire as a form of protest, and scrapping punishment will only weaken the hand of cops trying to check such protesters.

Five states, including Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Sikkim and Delhi, had expressed reservations saying suicide bids in terror plots cannot be adequately dealt with now, and might require to be covered by fresh legislation. According to MHA, such persons would come under the purview of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.

Moreover, MP, Delhi and Sikkim said that fast unto death or attempts at self-immolation to lodge protest could not be penalised now,  Madhya Pradesh and Delhi argued that deleting Section 309 would dilute Section 306 (abetment of suicide), as an abettor cannot be proceeded against for a failed suicide attempt.

The World Health Organisation has listed India as one of the countries with the highest suicide
rates - 21.1 per 100,000 people in 2012.

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