In this post we will discuss about legal implications of attempt to suicide and its mental implications on the victim.
Should suicide bid be punished or survivor treated with care: SC
Shall the victim of a failed suicide attempt be sentenced in compliance with section 309 of the Indian Penal Code or rehabilitated with treatment by the government according to section 115 of the Mental Healthcare Act? Which of the two clauses were legally valid, the Supreme Court requested details from the Center on Friday?
Acting on the harmless petition of the animal-right NGO seeking steps to deter individuals attempting to commit suicide by leaping into animal enclosures in zoos, Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian said that he found the dichotomy between Section 309 IPC and Section 115 of the MH Act and requested Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to obtain a response from the Union Government.
The SC argued that this dichotomy must be resolved along with the unresolved question of the substantive validity requirement of Section 309. The controversy about the morality and legality of prosecuting suicide perpetrators has contributed to a variety of countries across the world decriminalising the crime, which tends to draw prosecution under the 160-year-old IPC. However, in 2018, in a seminal judgement, SC declared in Gian Kaur ‘s 1996 judgement that “the freedom to live with dignity does not entail the freedom to death” needed reconsideration.
As per the IPC, a suicide victim is subject to judicial prosecution. It is a peculiar judicial law that is at odds with the 21st century zeitgeist. The only way to resolve the inconsistency between the two statutes is to decriminate the intention to commit suicide by eliminating Section 309 of the IPC.
Although Section 309 of the IPC provided that “Whoever attempts to commit suicide and does any act to commit such a crime, shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a period that may stretch to one year,” Section 115 of the MH Act said, “Without regard to anything found in Section 309 of the Indian Criminal Code, any person who attempts to commit suicide shall be assumed unless proved to have committed suicide.
Section 115(2) also said, “The responsible Government shall have the responsibility to provide medication, recovery and rehabilitation to a person who has experienced extreme trauma and attempted suicide in order to minimise the risk of recurrence of attempted suicide.” The Bank’s order said, “Issue a notice to the Attorney General of India calling on the Union of India to clarify the validity of Section 115.
He said, “This (MH Act) involves a person who tries to commit suicide as a survivor of circumstances and not an accused, at least in the absence of facts to the contrary, the responsibility of which must rest on the prosecution. Section 115 represents a substantial shift in our legislation about how society must approach and attempt to commit suicide. It aims to put Indian legislation into line with evolving understanding of suicide by means of a treaty. It seems that the separate trial, which Justice Chandrachud spoke about two and a half years ago, is about to begin.
On 9 March 2018, a five-jurisdiction constitutional bench allowed passive euthanasia for individuals in a vegetative state and approved a living will. One of the judges on the court , Justice D Y Chandrachud, said that the sentence for a failed suicide attempt “could need a re-examination in the future in the light of domestic and foreign changes that lead to the decriminalisation of suicide.”
This post was written by Kosha Doshi.
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