As per the Mental Healthcare Bill 2016, which got parliamentary approval on March 27, is decriminalisation of suicide attempt.
As per the Mental Healthcare Bill 2016, which got parliamentary approval on March 27, is decriminalisation of suicide attempt. The bill ensures every person shall have a right to access mental health care and treatment from mental health services run or funded by the appropriate government. It also assures free treatment for such persons if they are homeless or poor, even if they do not possess a Below Poverty Line card.
"Notwithstanding anything contained in section 309 of the Indian Penal Code, 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," the bill said. As per the bill, it will be government's duty to provide care, treatment and rehabilitation to a person, having severe stress and who attempted to commit suicide, to reduce the risk of recurrence of any attempt.
The bill also provides that a person with mental illness will have the right to make an advance directive that states how he she wants to be treated for the illness and nominate a representative. Under Section 309, the maximum punishment which can be awarded is imprisonment for a term of 1 year. There have been appeals to remove the section from different sources.
In the Gian Kaur Case in 1996, a five judge bench of the Supreme Court of India had ruled that the section 309 was not violative of Article 21 of the Constitution of India. The Supreme Court also considered suicide as a mental health concern in its judgment on euthanasia in Aruna Shanbaug vs Union of India, in which it recognised that a person attempting suicide is in need of help rather than punishment, and it recommended that Parliament consider the feasibility of deleting Section 309.
The law commission of India had also recommended removal of the section from the statute. A bill in this regard was introduced in the parliament, but was not made into law. The Supreme court in 2011 recommended to Parliament to consider the feasibility of deleting this section from the statute. Even though the section has not been removed, the Mental Healthcare Bill would effectively decriminalise attempted ssuicide.