Suicide under Indian penal code,1860


The term “suicide” has not been defined in Indian penal code. Section 309 and 306 deals with suicide under Indian penal code, 1860. There has been a lot of confusion regarding giving constitutional validity to section 309 of Indian penal code, many questions have been raised in favour and also in against of section 309 of Indian penal code,1860. There are some social factors which are considered the reason for suicide such as: unemployment, poverty, family and marriage problems and drug abuse. These are some common factors which are considered as reasons for suicide in India.  

Section 309-Attempt to commit suicide:

Any person who attempts to commit suicide, such person will be punished with imprisonment of term extended to one year or with fine or both. It is a cognizable offence. 

Section 306-Abetment of suicide:

If any individual commits suicide, if it is been found that such person has been instigated or abetted by any other person to do such crime shall be punished with imprisonment of term which may extend upto 10 years and shall also be liable to fine. Section 306 is a cognizable and non-bailable offence. 

Essential Ingredients:

  1. There must be abetment by the accused. 
  2. The intention of the accused to abet the deceased to commit suicide. 

In the case of Ramesh Kumar v State of Chhattisgarh, Supreme Court cleared the meaning of “instigation as it means to encourage, invoke or prompt to do a demonstration”

Attempt to Suicide: Constitutional or Unconstitutional?

Section 309 has been subject to controversy from past many years. As, it’s constitutionality has been raised in many cases. 

Maruti Shripati Dubal v State of Maharashtra was the first case in which question was raised regarding the constitutionality of section 309 of Indian penal code,1860. In this case, court held that section 309 is unconstitutional and is violative of article 14 and 21 of the constitution  on the ground of arbitrariness and equality but In case Chenna Jagadeeswar v. State of Andhra Pradesh, court held that section 309 is not violative of article 14 and 21 of the constitution as court cannot allow people to die just because they cannot live a dignified life. 

In P. Rathinam v. Union of India, Supreme court held that section 309 violates article 21 of the constitution which is consider has one of the most important article of the constitution but this decision was overruled in case Smt. Gian Kaur v. State of Punjab by the Division bench of three judges of the supreme court held that section 309 was neither violative of Article 19 nor Article 21 of the constitution as right to die cannot be given as a fundamental right to the people. 

Law commission has suggested  in its 42nd and 210th report to decriminalise attempt to commit suicide and this report was made public while introducing the bill in the joint committee. Rajya Sabha approved the bill whereas the bill was pending in the Lok Sabha and got dissolved. 

In the recent landmark case, Aruna Ramchandra Shanbaug v. Union of India, court held that section 309 should be remove and people who tries to commit suicide should be given care and love instead of being punished. Medication can help them to recover from such taruma. 


Suicide should be considered has a serious mental health issue which should be given a proper attention by the family and government. In this modern era, people faces difficulty to manage the fast growing world between their career and family, which sometimes leads them to end their life. Mental Health Care Act has been made to determine the mental illness in accordance with the international medical standard. According to this act people who tries to commit suicide will not be punished under Indian Penal code as it is believed that they suffer from mental illness at that period of time. The word “mental illness” refers to a state of mind which needs attention of doctors. Many countries have removed the punishment for suicide like UK,USA and Canada.


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