SC favours decriminalisation of suicide attempt

Posted By: Biswajeet Panda
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Supreme Court
New Delhi, Mar 8: Mar 7 was a day of historic verdicts by the Supreme Court of India. First in the judgment that quashed euthanasia plea for Aruna Shanbaug, it approved passive euthanasia while in another significant observation the apex court said that it is time to decriminalise attempt to suicide.

The Court said that punishment under Indian Penal Code for suicide attempts should be deleted and asked the parliament to look into it, reported the Times of India.

While dealing with issues pertaining to euthanasia, the bench of justices Markandey Katju and Gyan Sudha Mishra observed, "We are of the opinion that although Section 309 of IPC (attempt to suicide) has been held to be constitutionally valid in Gian Kaur's case by Supreme Court, the time has come when it should be deleted by Parliament as it has become anachronistic", reported the daily.

According to the daily, the bench added, "A person attempts to suicide in a depression, and hence he needs help, rather than punishment. We therefore recommend to Parliament to consider the feasibility of deleting Section 309 from the Indian Penal Code."

In its 210th report to the government on Oct 17, 2008, the Law Commission contradicted its 156th report in 1997 and adhered to the retention of attempt to suicide as a penal offence. In the 210th report, the commission recommended the Government of India to "initiate steps for repeal of the anachronistic law contained in section 309 of IPC, which would relieve the distressed of his suffering."

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