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HindustanTimes Sun,20 Apr 2014

SC wanted suicide attempt to be decriminalised

Satya Prakash, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, March 05, 2013
First Published: 00:24 IST(5/3/2013) | Last Updated: 00:26 IST(5/3/2013)

A Delhi court that framed charges of attempt to commit suicide against anti-AFSPA activist Irom Sharmila under Section 309 the of Indian Penal Code on Monday, was perhaps unaware that the Supreme Court wanted the provision to be scrapped.

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Sharmila has been fasting for the repeal of AFSPA for the last 12 years.

A bench of justice Markandey Katju (since retired) and justice Gyan Sudha Mishra, which legalised passive euthanasia in India in March 2011, had recommended to Parliament to consider decriminalising attempt to suicide, saying Section 309 IPC had become anachronistic.

“Although Section 309 Indian Penal Code (attempt to commit suicide) has been held to be constitutionally valid in Gian Kaur’s case, the time has come when it should be deleted by Parliament as it has become anachronistic,” the bench had said.

“A person attempts suicide in a depression, and hence he needs help, rather than punishment,” it had said.

Attempt to suicide is an offence under Section 309 IPC attracting a simple imprisonment for a year or fine or both.

It its 210th report on “Humanisation and Decriminalisation of Attempt to Suicide”, the Law Commission too had in 2008 recommended decriminalisation of attempt to suicide.

“It would not be just and fair to inflict additional legal punishment on a person who has already suffered agony and ignominy in his failure to commit suicide… When a troubled individual tries to end his life, it would be cruel  to visit him with punishment on his failure to die,” the commission, which advises the government on legal issues, said.
But the Centre rejected the report.

Attempt to suicide is an offence under Section 309 IPC attracting a simple imprisonment for a year or fine or both. Terming the provision as “inhuman”, the commission had said “repeal of the anachronistic law would save many lives and relieve the distressed of his  sufferings, it added.

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