Examine the constitutional validity of Section 309 of I.P.C. (Attempt to commit suicide) in the light of the judgment of the Supreme Court….

By | July 21, 2021
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Question: Examine the constitutional validity of Section 309 of I.P.C. (Attempt to commit suicide) in the light of the judgment of the Supreme Court.

Or

Whether the attempt to commit suicide is an offense or not? Discuss the judgment of the Supreme Court in this context.

Or

Is there any offense under the Indian Penal Code, the attempt of which is punishable while the commission of the offense goes without punishment? Discuss relevant provisions as contained under the Indian Penal Code on the point. What has been the philosophy in leaving the commission of such offense without any punishment whatsoever? [UKJS. 2002]

Find the answer to the mains question only on Legal Bites [Examine the constitutional validity of Section 309 of I.P.C. (Attempt to commit suicide) in the light of the judgment of Supreme Court. Or Whether the attempt… ]

Answer

Suicide is as such no crime under the IPC. However, an attempt to commit suicide is made punishable under this section. Mens rea is one of the essential elements of this offence.

Section 309 of IPC classifies an attempt to commit suicide as an offence. It states: Whoever attempts 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.

The reason behind making the attempt of suicide punishable is based on the philosophy of Article 21 enshrined under the Constitution of India that enjoins that no person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.

The constitutional validity of section 309 was initially struck down as a cruel and irrational provision and violative of art 21 of the Constitution, by a Division Bench of the Supreme Court in the case of P Rathinam v. Union of India [AIR 1994 SC 1844]. The court stated that a person has a right to die and declared Section 309 unconstitutional.

In this case, the petitioner challenged the validity of section 309 on the ground that it was violative of Articles 14 and 21 of the constitution. The court held that Section 309 of the IPC was a cruel and irrational provision and most importantly it ruled that Article 21 also includes the right not to live a forced life.

However, in Gian Kaur v. State of Punjab [AIR 1996 SC 946], the P. Rathinam dictum was reversed and a Constitutional Bench of the Supreme Court upheld the constitutional validity of s 309, by indicating that it does not violate Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution.

It held that the right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution does not include the right to die.

Justice J.S Verma observed: Right to life is a natural right embodied in Article 21 but suicide is an unnatural termination or extinction of life and incompatible and inconsistent with the concept of the right to life.

The court held made it clear that the right to life including the right to live with human dignity would mean the existence of such a right up to the end of natural life. The right to die with dignity at the end of life is not to be confused with the right to die an unnatural death curtailing the natural span of life.

The court accordingly held that Section 309 of IPC is not violative of Article 21 of the constitution.

Thus, the attempt to suicide is now punishable as before and it is finally well settled that Section 309 of the IPC is constitutional and it does not violate Article 14 and 21 of the Indian Constitution.


Important Mains Questions Series for Judiciary, APO & University Exams

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