The Supreme Court on Monday recommended to Parliament to consider decriminalising attempt to suicide, saying the provision had become anachronistic.
A bench of justice Markandey Katju and justice Gyan Sudha Mishra, which legalised passive euthanasia in India, said: “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 said: “A person attempts suicide in a depression, and hence he needs help, rather than punishment.
We recommend to Parliament to consider the feasibility of deleting Section 309 from the IPC.”
The SC’s recommendation is likely to trigger a debate on decriminalising suicide as it comes after the Centre rejected the 2008 report of the Law Commission, which advises the government on legal issues, favouring scrapping of Section 309 of the IPC.
It its 210th report on “Humanisation and Decriminalisation of Attempt to Suicide”, the Commission had said: “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.”
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.