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Attempt to commit suicide

This paper deals with the provision Attempt To Commit Suicide. the concept of attempt to commit suicide is define under section 309 of Indian penal code 1860. this provision given for the purpose that- NO  One Can Harm To Themeselves.
This provision is applying to any person whoever attempt to commit suicide. but there is some exception where this provision is not applied these are following as under-

  1. The Jain people who follow the religious custom - Santara.
  2. The person who suffer from serious illness and doctor give a note or notice to such person that there is no possibility of such person to recover. and if such person attempts to commit suicide then on such person this section is not applied.

This provision not violative of Article -21 of Indian constitution, because the Article 21 of Indian constitution say about Right to Live and Personal Libertynot about Right to Die.

The provision under section 309 of Indian penal code 1860 is Attempt To Commit Suicide. The term Attempt is not defined in code, but the general meaning - attempt must be distinguished from preparation, it is the next stage after preparation. And it is a direct movement to commission of the intend act. an attempt to commit an offence involve two elements-

  1. Mens Rea (guilty mind)
  2. Actus Rea (act of person complained against)

The general meaning of Suicide- Taking of one's own life intentionally and voluntarily. the definition of Attempt to commit suicide as under section 309 of Indian penal code 1860 -
whoever attempt to commit suicide and does any act towards the commission of such offence shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year or with fine or with both.

Constitutional Validity-

The section 309 of Indian penal code 1860 was challenged on its constitutional validity and the supreme court observed that section 309 (attempt to commit suicide) of Indian penal code is criminal and irrational. its violative Article- 21 (Right to life) of Indian constitution, and deserve to be affected from the statutes book to humanities penal laws. It added that act to attempt to commit suicide has no beneficial effect on society, not against religion, morality or public policy, besides suicide or attempt to commit suicide it causes no harm to other.

But in reversed decision the supreme court held that section 309 of Indian penal code is Not Unconstitutional. This provision (section -309) which penalizes attempt to commit suicide is not violative Article 21(right to life) of Indian constitution. And under Article 21 of constitution provided for Right To Life , Does Not Include Right To Die.

Applicable On Hunger Striker-

The hunger striker means person who are taking hunger strike or fast for some demand. and this section 309 is not apply to all hunger striker, because some condition is required as understand as following -
Case of hunger strike present some difficulties in determine if the intention of the hunger strike was to kill himself, as death by starvation is a long drawn out process which can be interrupted or given up at any stage (exempt perhaps the very last). Going on hunger strike does not therefore, constitute this offence in all case.

Unless there is some declaration by the accused of his intention to fast unto death, it is not certain that he really intended to persevere to the bitter end. And even if there is such an intention at the beginning, one has always to make allowance for the possibility of the accused changing mind and breaking his fast before it become dangerous.

Hence, it may be conceded that if a person openly declares that he will fast unto death and then proceeds to refuse all nourishment until the stage is reached when there is imminent danger of death ensuing. he would be Guilty of Attempt To Commit Suicide..

Accused resorted to hunger strike to protest that minimum facilities were not provided to them in welfare homes. facts of case did not show that accused resorted to hunger strike with a view to commit suicide.

FIR also did not mention that accused went on hunger strike till death. Accused were on hunger strike only for 48 hours when FIR was filed, no inference therefore can be drawn that their lives were in danger, proceeding against accused for offender under section 309 of Indian penal code were quashed where complaint only indicated that accused had undertaken indefinite fasting word 'fast unto death ' was no were used in the complaint ingredients of offence under section 309 of Indian penal code, were found absent.

Where a person commenced fast unto death for certain demands and even before those demands were conceded he chose to get himself treated medically without any protest, there was no mens rea to destroy himself.

Thus, it cannot be said that he attempts to commit suicide. where the conditions of a person going on a hunger strike become critical, it is open to interfere and give medical treatment but in absence of Mens rea to put an end to life, such person cannot held to have committed offence punishable under section 309 of Indian penal code 1860.

Written By: Deepty Suwalka. student, B.A.L.L.B. 7th semester, Mlsu Udaipur,

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