Rss

  • stumble
  • youtube
  • linkedin

India – Attempt to suicide no longer a crime #Goodnews #mentalhealth

NEW DELHI: The government has decided to decriminalize “attempt to suicide” by deleting Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code from the statute book. Under the said Section, a suicide bid is punishable with imprisonment up to one year, or with fine, or both.

Stating this in reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday, minister of state for home Haribhai Parathibhai Chaudhary said the government had decided to drop Section 309 from the IPC after 18 states and 4 Union territories backed the recommendation of the Law Commission of India in this regard. ​Government sources told TOI that a Cabinet note on the Indian Penal Code (Amendment) Bill has already been circulated by the Union home ministry among other ministries such as law and health.

“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,” the MoS stated in the reply.

The law panel, in its 210th report submitted in 2008, had noted that attempt to suicide may be regarded more as a manifestation of a diseased condition of mind, deserving treatment and care rather than punishment, and accordingly recommended to the government to initiate the process for repeal of the “anachronistic” Section 309.

Incidentally, at least five states — Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, Punjab and Sikkim — expressed reservations against the move to de-criminalise suicide bids. Bihar wanted a distinction drawn between persons driven to suicide due to medical illnesses and suicide bombers who fail to blow themselves up or terrorists who consume cyanide pills to wipe out evidence, and wanted the former to be covered by a separate legislation. However, the home ministry officials clarified that a would still face charges under the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, whether or not he succeeds in his mission.

WHAT ABOUT FASTING ACTIVISTS 
NEW DELHI: Failed suicide bombers, cyanide-popping terrorists and intransigent agitators — these were some of the issues raised by at least five states that opposed the Centre’s proposal to decriminalize attempt to commit suicide.

Replying to a question in Rajya Sabha on Wednesday, minister of state for home Haribhai Parathibhai Chaudhary said, “The 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. Eighteen states and 4 UT 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.”

Bihar, which expressed reservations alongside Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, Punjab and Sikkim, wanted a distinction drawn between persons driven to suicide due to medical illnesses and suicide bombers who fail to blow themselves up or terrorists who consume cyanide pills to wipe out evidence, and wanted the former to be covered by a separate legislation.

However, home ministry officials clarified that a terrorist would still face charges under the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, whether or not he succeeds in his mission.

Madhya Pradesh, Delhi and Sikkim had argued that decriminalizing attempt to suicide would handicap law enforcement agencies in dealing with persons who resort to fast unto death or self-immolation to press the government or authorities to accept their unreasonable or illegitimate demands. Such people, they argued, can no longer be booked for attempt to suicide or be force-fed.

A home ministry official pointed out the case of anti-AFSPA activist Irom Sharmila of Manipur, who has been on indefinite fast for the past 14 years and is kept alive by being charged with attempt to suicide and forcibly administered intravenous fluids.

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.

Punjab, while not opposing the move, insisted that the state come forward to rehabilitate people who attempt suicide by providing medical/psychiatric care and public assistance in case of unemployment, old age, sickness, rape victims and distressed farmers.

Delhi demanded that reporting of attempt to suicide to authorized officer or hospital be made compulsory.

The government is examining these views, said home ministry sources, before taking the draft IPC(Amendment) Bill to the Cabinet. The Bill will then be brought to Parliament.

The Law Commission had earlier recommended repeal of Section 309 in its 42nd report submitted in 1971. The IPC (Amendment) Bill, 1978 was passed by the Rajya Sabha, but before it could be passed by the Lok Sabha, the lower House was dissolved and the Bill lapsed. The Commission then submitted its 156th Report in 1997 after the Gian Kaur judgment, recommending retention of section 309.

However, the commission, in its 210th report, said attempt to suicide warranted medical and psychiatric care and not punishment.

“In view of the views expressed by the WHO, the International Association for Suicide Prevention, France, decriminalization of attempted suicide by all countries in Europe and North America, the opinion of the Indian Psychiatric Society, and the representations received by the commission from various persons, the commission has resolved to recommend to the government to initiate steps for repeal of the anachronistic law contained in section 309, IPC,” the panel said while mentioning how only a handful of nations like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Singapore and India have “persisted with this undesirable law”.

Madhya Pradesh, Delhi and Sikkim argued that decriminalising attempt to suicide would handicap law enforcement agencies in dealing with persons who resort to fast unto death or self-immolation to press the government/ authorities to accept their unreasonable or illegitimate demands. Such people, they argued, can no longer be booked for attempt to suicide or be force-fed. A home ministry official pointed out the case of Manipuri anti-AFSPA activist Irom Sharmila, who has been on indefinite fast for the last 14 years but was kept alive by being charged with attempt to suicide and forcibly administered intravenous fluids.

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.

Punjab, while not opposing the deletion of Section 309, insisted that the State come forward to rehabilitate people who attempt suicide by providing medical/psychiatric care and public assistance in case of unemployment, old age, sickness, rape victims and distressed farmers.

Delhi demanded that reporting of attempt to suicide to authorised officer or hospital be made compulsory.

The government is examining the aforesaid views, said home ministry sources, before taking the draft IPC(Amendment) Bill to the Cabinet. The bill will then be brought to Parliament.

The Law Commission had earlier recommended repeal of Section 309 in its 42nd report submitted in 1971. The IPC (Amendment) Bill, 1978 was passed by the Rajya Sabha, but before it could be passed by the Lok Sabha, the Lok Sabha was dissolved and the bill lapsed. The Commission then submitted its 156th Report in 1997 after the Gian Kaur judgment, recommending retention of section 309.

However, the commission, in its 210th report, said attempt to suicide warranted medical and psychiatric care and not punishment.

“In view of the views expressed by the WHO, the International Association for Suicide Prevention, France, decriminalization of attempted suicide by all countries in Europe and North America, the opinion of the Indian Psychiatric Society, and the representations received by the commission from various people, the commission has resolved to recommend to the government to initiate steps for repeal of the anachronistic law contained in section 309, IPC,” the panel said while mentioning how only a handful of nations like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Singapore and India have “persisted with this undesirable law”.

Welcoming the decision, BJP MP from Bihar and former Union home secretary RK Singh on Wednesday said it was “the right step taken by the government”.

“People with suicidal tendencies deserve counselling, not legal action,” he told mediapersons outside Parliament.

According to Section 309 of the IPC, “whoever attempts to commit suicide and does any act towards commission of such offence, shall be punished for a term which may extend to one year of with fine, or with both”.

The first indication of the government’s intention to delete Section 309 of the IPC had come in August this year. In reply to a Parliament question on August 5, minister of state for home Kiren Rijiju had indicated that the government was working on implementing the recommendation of the Law Commission to decriminalize attempt to suicide. “The Ministry of Home Affairs is in the process of effacing section 309 of the Indian Penal Code, as recommended by the Law Commission in its 210th Report along — with amendment of certain other sections of the Code of Criminal Procedure/Indian Penal Code in consultation with all the stakeholders,” he had stated.

However, now that the consultations with the states and UTs have found a majority of them favouring the recommendation, the Centre has decided to bring a bill to amend the IPC.

Times View

This newspaper has consistently argued that attempted suicide should be decriminalized (in 2011 and 2012 alone, we wrote seven impassioned Times Views to this effect). The Supreme Court in 2011 urged the government to do the same; and the Law Commission, as early as 1971, had called for the repeal of Section 309 of the IPC. The government’s decision was long overdue, but no less welcome for that.

Having taken this step and thus indicated a willingness to accommodate both traditional Indian sensibilities as well as modern ones, it needs to go a step further and initiate a national debate on euthanasia. This paper has argued in favour of it — albeit with stringent legal and medical checks and balances to guard against misuse.
Read this in Hindi: अपराध नहीं रहेगी सूसाइड की कोशिश

 

Related posts

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: