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Abetment of suicide and its consequences

Submitted by asandil on Wed, 12/30/2020 - 11:58

According to the 306 section of the Indian Penal Code, a person abetting the suicide of another person shall be punished with imprisonment up to 10 years and shall also be liable to fine. Abetting a suicide is a non-bailable charge.

A person is guilty of abetment when –

  1. He instigates someone to commit suicide or
  2. He is part of a conspiracy to make a person commit suicide or
  3. He intentionally helps the victim to commit suicide by doing an act or by nor doing something that he was bound to do.

As per the 305 section of the Indian Penal Code , if any person under eighteen years of age, any insane person, any delirious person, any idiot, or any person in a state of intoxication commits suicide, whoever abets the commission of such suicide, shall be punished with death or imprisonment for life, or imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.

In order to convict a person under Section 306, not only must there be a clear intention to commit the offence, but there must also be an active act which steers the deceased to commit suicide. Such an act must be inveigled and push the deceased to seeing no other option, but to commit suicide.

Case Law Analysis

According to Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), 1860, 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 tend to one year, or with fine, or with both.

This section was however debated in the case of Gian Kaur v. State of Punjab (1996) and was argued that the section debased the Article 21 of The Indian Constitution which provided with every Indian citizen the right to life. It was further opposed that if a person possesses the right to life, then he must also have the right to terminate his life. However, it was finally declared that there exists no ground to prove the unconstitutionality of Section 309 IPC.

Additionally, in P. Rathinam V Union of India (1994) case, it was held that the construction made of Article 21 to incorporate the right to die cannot be accepted on any grounds, not even after considering Article 14 of The Indian Constitution. It was clearly stated that Section 309 IPC cannot be treated unconstitutionally as the Right to Life is a natural right provided in Article 21 but suicide is an unnatural termination life and therefore inconsistent with the concept of Right to Life.

Furthermore, in Chitresh Kumar Chopra V State, the court analysed the dictionary meaning of the word “instigation” and “goading”. The court opined that there should be intention to provoke, incite or encourage the doing of an act by the latter. Each person’s suicidal pattern is different from the others and has his own idea about self- esteem and self-respect. Therefore, no straight – jacket formula can be created and imparted in dealing with such cases as each case has to be decided on the basis of its facts and circumstances.

Intention to commit suicide is essential in order to constitute an offence under this section. Where an accused jumped into a well to avoid the police and later came out of the well of his own accord, it was held that in absence of evidence that he jumped into the well to commit suicide; he couldn’t be convicted of an offence under this section, i.e., Section 309.

In Naresh Morotrao v Union of India, the validity of Section 306 was observed and the court held that section 306 constitutes an offence which is independent in character entirely. It is structured on the principle of public policy that no individual should involve himself in, or instigate, or aid the commission of a crime. It is in consonance with Articles 14 and 21 of the Indian Constitution and thus in violative.

On April 07, 2017, the Mental Healthcare Act (MCHA), 2017 came into existence and treated suicide as a psychiatric problem and not as an offence. Section 115 of the Act talks about the presumption of severe stress in case of attempt to suicide and states that “Notwithstanding anything contained in Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860) any person who attempts to commit suicide shall be presumed unless proved otherwise, to have severe stress and shall not be tried and punished under the said code.”

In case of Randhir Singh Vs. State of Punjab, The Supreme Court opined that Abetment involves a mental process of instigating a person or intentionally aiding that person in doing a thing.

Abetment of suicide of married women

The Criminal Law (second Amendment) Act 1983 has provided that where a married girl commits suicide within seven years of her marriage, the Court may presume that her husband and relatives of her husband had abetted her to commit suicide by virtue of incorporation of Section 113 A in the Indian Evidence Act.

Conclusion

Suicide or self – annihilation is an incident affecting the people of all classes throughout the world. It is an exceptional crime where both the accused and victim are the same person distressing himself. This crime has been elaborated in the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and provides for the punishment as well to control further commission of offences. Attempt to suicide and abetment of suicide are two different concept which is punishable under Section 309 and Section 306 of Indian Penal Code. Section 306 deals with the punishment for abetment of suicide while section 309 punishes for the attempt to commit suicide.

To attract the ingredients of abetment, the intention of the accused to aid, instigate, or abet the deceased to commit suicide is essential. Thus, the basic constituents of an offence under section 306 are suicidal death and abetment along with the direct involvement by the accused in such instigation is essential and punished for a term which can exceed to ten years imprisonment or fine.

End Notes:

Gian Kaur v. State of Punjab

P. Rathinam V Union of India

Chitresh Kumar Chopra V State

Naresh Morotrao v Union of India