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article imageAttempted suicide no longer a crime in India

By Sravanth Verma     Dec 11, 2014 in World
New Delhi - Attempted suicide is no longer a crime in India, with the government repealing section 309 of the Indian Penal Code, Rajnath Singh, the Union Home Minister informed the Indian parliament.
As per this law, a person guilty of attempted suicide was subject to a fine and/or imprisonment up to a term of one year. The decriminalization is based on the recommendation of the 210th report of the law commission of India and was supported by 18 of the 29 states and four union territories in India. The Law Commission had stated that an individual attempting suicide should be given treatment and not punishment.
Critics of the law welcomed the decision with former Delhi High Court Justice RS Sodhi saying, "I never found any justification or logic of this law. I welcome news that the government has decided to delete Section 309."
Senior criminal lawyer Ashok Aggarwal however commented that several nuances will have to be dealt with by the government. "Just the answer that section 309 will be deleted leaves out several aspects unanswered as there are cases of allegations of dowry deaths being portrayed as suicide and then there are unanswered questions about euthanasia and assisted suicide. What will happen to these cases? What about the façade where it is yet to be established that attempt to suicide was because of torture. The government cannot leave these just like that and ensure that these are covered," he said.
Noted criminal lawyer, N. Ramakrishnan, also cautioned that religious aspects should also be looked at carefully in the application of the law, referring to practice of fasting that many ascetics follow. Traditionally, even Gautama the Buddha is said to have fasted as part of his practices.
There were a few states that opposed the decision including Madhya Pradesh, which preferred that courts deal with these issues, since they usually don't punish individuals under this law. The state was also of the opinion that this decision would weaken Section 306 which dealt with abetment to suicide.
The state of Bihar was concerned that this would also weaken the legal case against terrorists participating in suicide attacks. However, the home ministry pointed out that there were several other stringent laws in place to deal with such situations.
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