NEW DELHI: An attempt to commit suicide will no longer be an offence as the Union Home Ministry has decided to delete Section 309 of IPC from the statute book.
The government move was supported by 18 states, including Tamil Nadu, and four Union Territories. However, states like Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Punjab, Sikkim and Delhi advised caution arguing that some measures could be taken to deal with a person trying to commit suicide in public view.
Haribhai Parathibhai Chaudhary, MoS Home Affairs, on Wednesday told Parliament that keeping in view the response from the states and UTs, it has been decided to delete section 309 IPC from the statute book.
As per IPC 309, if a person survives an attempted suicide, he or she can be prosecuted under the law and can be sentenced for one year imprisonment, or fine, or both.
Speaking on protestors trying to kill themselves, a senior Home Ministry official said the objective of a protestor is not to attempt suicide but to persuade and pressure the state for redressal of grievances. He further said the act of self-immolation, depending on its nature, could still be booked.
“Even force-feeding can still be done by authorities if they fear the person on fast may die, but he or she will not be booked under criminal provision. If we look at it objectively, the purpose of protest, for example by Irom Sharmila or G D Agarwal, is not to die but to persuade the government for some purpose, but they were booked under this provision. It is this correction that was needed,” the official said, adding that to protest is a democratic right and can’t be clubbed under an offence and as far as Sati incidents are concerned, it is dealt with under a separate law.
The Law Commission had first recommended scrapping of Section 309 in 1971. In 1978, a bill was passed by the government in Rajya Sabha but it lapsed due to dissolution of Lok Sabha in 1979.