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Homologating - A Call Against Section 309

Updated: Oct 31, 2022

Death penalty

Image credits: Anadolu Agency


A suicide attempt will be outlined as a non-fatal self-reliant, doubtless injurious behaviour with the intent to die. Now we are all aware of the word ‘suicide’ but there's a significant number among us who aren't attentive to the criminalization of tried suicide. We wonder why is suicide considered a criminal offence, and why is it considered a criminal offence by lawmakers?


As per Article 21 of the Indian constitution, “No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except in keeping with the procedure established by the law”. Whereas the constitution covers the right to life or liberty, it doesn't embody the ‘right to die. Attempts at taking one’s own life aren't thought to constitute the range of the constitutional right to life. Section 309 of the IPC (Indian Penal Code) clearly states that “whoever attempts to commit suicide and does any towards the commission of such offence, shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which can extend to one year or with fine, or with both.”

Several queries are raised within the context of section 309. First, it comes under the class of crimes outlined in Chapter XVI of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). All alternative crimes in this class embody those committed to the ‘human body of the person and an unsafe attempt is clubbed with them within the same class of crimes. The act of tried suicide is inferred based on intention, which is inferred from circumstances. However, the intention is inferred from the circumstances. However, the intention could also be unclear or ambiguous in several cases. Further, the question of the legal treatment of tried suicide as a criminal offence against the state doesn't realize several takers.

Delhi High Court, in an exceedingly landmark judgement of 1985 had commented that “the continuance of section 309 I.P.C. (criminalizing suicide) is an anachronism unworthy of an individual's society like ours.” The Indian legal code had been developed throughout the British rule regime of 1860 and was principally ruled by British law at that point. Ironically, Bharat continues to follow the archaic law even though Britain itself had decriminalized suicide methods back in 1961.

It is to be noted that the abetting of the commission of suicide (but not the abetting of the arrange to commit suicide) is roofed underneath Section 306 IPC and therefore the encouragement of the suicide of a kid is roofed underneath Section 305 of IPC. The penalization for these varies from 1-9 years of imprisonment and significant fines. Repealing Section 309, as such, wouldn't have an effect or impact on the above sections on the abetment of completed suicide.

Although section 309 continues to be in effect, the” Mental attention Act, 2017” (enacted in July 2018) has restricted its application. The relevant provision of the new act states: while something is contained in section 309 of the Indian Penal Code, a person who attempts to die shall be assumed unless proved otherwise, to have severe stress and shall not be tried and reproved underneath the aforesaid Code (The Mental attention Act, 2017).

Till now, we've mentioned the Indian situation. Let’s have a glance at the ‘International Scenario’-

After the French Revolution, at the side of the socio-cultural changes in Europe, the perspective towards suicide and tried suicide bit by bit began to modification. Throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, most developed countries have repealed the criminalization of tried suicide. However, some countries, as well as Bharat (India), still treat unsafe attempts as a criminal offence.

Countries that also have the law of tried suicide as a criminal offence are principally from 2 regions viz. South Asian region and North African region.

  • In the African region, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, Ghana, Uganda are among the countries that presently criminalize non-fatal self-destructive behaviour.

  • In the South Asian region, India, Pakistan, Malaysia, Singapore, Bangladesh are among the countries that still criminalize unsafe attempts.

  • Countries with decriminalization of tried suicide- Countries that have decriminalized tried suicide have continued to criminalize the encouragement to suicide, suicide pacts, and from time to time, deliberate self-harm.

  • In the province of Victoria, the survivor of a suicide pact will be charged with homicide and abetting an alternative person’s suicide.

  • In New Zealand, the encouragement of the suicides of others could be a crime, and equally in Russia, inciting somebody to suicide is punishable by up to five years in jail.

Currently, the UN agency (World Health Organization) has known fifty-nine countries across the globe that have decriminalized suicide. As seen within the higher than the image, tried suicide has been decriminalized within the whole of Europe, North America, abundant of South America, and many components of Asia.

Is death penalty justified?

Image Credits: Unsplash/Eva Blue


Two major quiet arguments are usually put forth for the criminalization of unsafe attempts, although, within the current political and sociocultural times, these have been challenged.

The first major argument is unmoving within the belief that solely God ought to have the correct to dictate the end of the lifetime of an individual and once an individual attempts to finish the life himself or herself, it ought to be thought of by religions across the globe. In some ethnic teams, unsafe deaths are kept devoid of the customary ceremonial rituals. In Hinduism, it's believed that death by suicide doesn't result in the accomplishment of moksha (salvation).

In general, an unsafe death is related to dishonour transferring the entire lineage, social stigma, and alternative consequences. However, at an equivalent time, several religions have additionally hailed suicide as necessary in bound things or circumstances. the traditional Hindu living principles sanctioned some suicides like, to redress sins and being unable to perform their non-secular duties, ‘sati pratha’.

Similarly, in the aftermath of the war, several Rajput women in India chose death over humiliation.

Jainism has approved ending one’s life by one’s own actions in certain circumstances. Jainism conjointly follows a practice called Santhara (a religious ceremony of voluntary death by fasting) among Jains. “There are folks that do Santhara. The intention of Santhara isn't to die, but to liberate yourself from this miserable world.”, CJI Bobde aforementioned in an exceedingly long hearing concerning the IPC Section 309. The angle of Buddhism has been ambiguous, although it's inspired selfless suicide under certain circumstances.

Another major argument for criminalization is the belief that the law will act as a deterrent against different such attempts in society. However, it's still not clear whether having a law to prosecute suicide attempters acts as a deterrent or not. Internationally, the analysis on the impact of the repeal of anti-suicide legislation has yielded mixed results.


The action, and therefore the imposition of protective associate degree money penalties on those condemned to self-destructive behaviours, represents an affront (offence) to human dignity. In an exceedingly massive majority, self-destructive (suicidal) behaviour is usually an indication of medical malady or is an act of psychological distress, indicating that the person needs help in his personal and psychological life, not penalization by fine and/or imprisonment. As many as ninety-three suicide attempters were found to be psychiatrically unwell at the time of the commission of the act, although medical contact was established for only thirty-three (50% of them). Penal sanctions can solely serve to exacerbate self-destructive people's risk of depression, anxiety, and repetitive self-destructive behaviour.

"Criminalization of suicide is harmful; it doesn't deter people from taking their own lives," said Sarah Franz Kline, co-founder of United for International Mental State. "It will deter individuals from seeking to facilitate in an exceedingly acute moment, and it will stop individuals from receiving the support they need for their mental state."


To conclude, all human beings have their own purpose to live. Suicide is not a solution to the issues that we all face in our lives. If we are stuck in such a scenario, simply see your blue-eyed ones and think about themselves.





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