Decriminalisation of attempt to suicide

Considering the recommendation of 210th report of Law Commission of India on “Humanization and Decriminalisation of Attempt to Suicide”, Government decriminalised attempt to commit suicide, which is otherwise an offence under Section 309 of Indian penal Code. Attempt to suicide is no longer a crime. It will ensure that, people driven to take their lives do not end up in prison in case they don’t succeed.

Commission in its report had said Section 309 needs to be deleted because the provision is inhuman, irrespective of whether it is constitutional or unconstitutional. Commission had also argued in its report that attempting suicide was “manifestation of a diseased condition of mind” that called for treatment and care rather than punishment.

Section 309 from the Indian Penal Code, under which anyone attempting to commit suicide is punishable with a jail term of up to one year and a fine. In this move to decriminalise the attempt to suicide, Government is claiming support of 18 states and 4 Union Territories.

Critics of the law say that it is cruel and irrational because it provides double punishment for a troubled individual whose deep unhappiness had caused him to try and end his life. They say it is cruel to inflict additional legal punishment on a person who has already suffered agony and ignominy in his failure to commit suicide.

There has also been a conflicting opinion that by declaring an attempt to commit suicide a crime, the Indian Penal Code upholds the dignity of human life, because human life is as precious to the State as it is, to its holder and the State cannot turn a blind eye to a person in attempting to kill himself.