India Digest: Attempt To Commit Suicide May Cease To Be Crime Soon

22 Sep

NEW DELHI: The government intends to amend the law to decriminalize attempt to commit suicide, and may effect the much needed reform in a year or so.

This was indicated to the Delhi high court on Wednesday by the Central government, in response to a PIL seeking removal of section 309 of the Indian Penal Code that punishes attempt to suicide with one-year simple imprisonment or fine or both.

“Stand-alone amendment to remove section 309 of IPC may not be possible. The government plans a comprehensive amendment in a year’s time to the IPC, the CrPC (Criminal Procedure Code) and the Evidence Act that will include considering Law Commission’s recommendation to delete section 309,” Central government counsel Jatan Singh told a bench of chief justice Dipak Misra and justice Sanjiv Khanna.

Sources in the home and law ministry confirmed that decks have been cleared to propose removal of this section. Views were sought from the states as law and order is a subject on the concurrent list.

Of the 29 state governments approached, 25 have agreed to the proposal. Since criminal law falls in the concurrent list, as it deals with law and order, the approval of a majority of state governments is seen as a clincher for the Parliament to pass an amendment.

Only governments of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Sikkim are not in agreement with the proposal, while J&K has responded that the IPC is not applicable to them. Singh also submitted a note prepared by the home ministry that states, “A view has already been taken to consider recommendation of the Law Commission for deletion of 309 IPC during the next batch of comprehensive amendment to the IPC.”

The note, dated September 19, assures the court that the government is serious about the issue and adds three Parliamentary standing committees on home affairs have advocated need to “reform and rationalize” the criminal law of the country by introducing a comprehensive legislation in Parliament instead of bringing amendment bills in piecemeal.

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