Update on amendment of Section 309 of Indian Penal Code

Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code 1860 is related to the attempt to commit suicide. It reads-

Whoever attempts to commit suicide and does any act towards the commission of such offence, shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year 1[ or with fine, or with both.]

Recently, the Central Government said in response to a PIL seeking removal of section 309 of the Indian Penal Code that – it intends to amend the law to decriminalize attempt to commit suicide, and may effect the much-needed reform in a year or so.

  • The Government says that stand-alone amendment to remove section 309 of IPC may not be possible and it plans a comprehensive amendment in a year’s time to the IPC, the CrPC (Criminal Procedure Code) and the Evidence Act that will include considering Law Commission’s recommendation to delete section 309.
  • The decks have been cleared and the Union Government sought the views from the states also as “Law and Order” is a subject of concurrent list.
  • The Union Government approached all the state Governments out of which 25 have agreed in principle. Bihar, MP & Sikkim oppose the amendment.
  • Further, IPC is not applicable in Jammu & Kashmir.

The PIL was filed by Mental Health Foundation in HC seeking decriminalization of attempt to suicide. The plea highlights that 10 lakh Indians attempt suicide every year; 274 do so every day. A majority of those who decide to end their lives are in their prime, below 44 years, when they could have contributed so much to society. It’s illogical to have a “crime” for which you can be punished only if you fail, and not if you succeed. Those who take the extreme step of trying to end their life are often victims of circumstances. They need sympathy and counselling, not the heavy hand of the law coming down on them. There is no doubt that the large number of suicides in the country is a matter of grave concern and something needs to be done about it. But criminalizing them won’t solve the problem. Instead, we need to create a sufficiently large pool of trained mental health professionals and raise awareness about depression.

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Comments

  • sk
    Reply

    Of late govt realised the tyranny of
    victimising a victim of circumstances and
    Is abt to decriminalise suicide….

  • swathy s
    Reply

    I’m also supporting this means of precaution that we must need to create a sufficiently large pool of trained mental health professionals rather than making offense