Indian Penal Code (IPC)
Section 309. Attempt to commit suicide
Whoever attempts to commit suicide and does any act towards the commission of such offence, shall be punished with simple imprisonment for term which may extend to one year 1[ or with fine, or with both].
CLASSIFICATION OF OFFENCE
Punishment—Simple imprisonment for 1 year, or fine or both—Cognizable—Bailable—Triable by any Magistrate—Non-compoundable.
‘Attempts to commit suicide’ as under sections 306 and 307
A person who jumps into a well in order to avoid and escape from her husband and subsequently comes out of the well herself, cannot be convicted under this section if there is no evidence to show that she wanted to commit suicide; Emperor v. Dhirajia, AIR 1940 All 486.
Right to die vis-a-vis Right not to die
The Supreme Court has set aside its earlier judgment in P. Rathinam/ Nagbhushan Patnaik v. Union of India, JT 1994 (3) SC 392, wherein the Court had struck down section 309 as unconstitutional. In a country where one-half of its population still live below the poverty line, the right to die by suicide cannot be granted to any person. Article 21 of the Constitution, which gives right to life and personal liberty, by no stretch of imagination can be said to impliedly include right to death by committing suicide. The section is also not violative of article 14. There is no requirement of awarding any minimum sentence. The sentence of imprisonment or fine is not compulsory but discretionary; Gian Kaur v. State of Punjab, JT 1996 (3) SC 339.
1. Subs. by Act 8 of 1882, sec. 7, for “and shall also be liable to fine”.