Sushant Singh Rajput's suicide has turned the Bollywood fraternity upside down. The actor's sad demise has forced Bollywood's insiders to stand for the media trial. However, a sensitive issue was highlighted by the Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone on suicide and mental depression.
After news broke out about the suicide of Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput, many mainstream media used the word 'committed' for suicide. Deepika slammed the media using the word 'Committed' for suicide.
As per Deepika, suicide is not a crime that the word 'committed' is used with it. Sushant did not commit any crime by ending his own life. After Deepika's correction, another debate has been sparked. Is dying by suicide should not be treated as criminal offence?
LAW of INDIA ON SUICIDE:
In 2017, Government decriminalised suicide. As per the new Mental Healthcare Act 2017, attempting suicide is no more a crime in India and there will be no more electric shocks for mentally ill children. It was notified by the Union Health Ministry on 29 May 2017.
The act says, "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."
As per the Act, the government will have the duty to provide care, treatment and rehabilitation to the person, who attempts suicide and has severe stress, to reduce the risk of recurrence of attempt to commit suicide.
The 2017 Act, which clearly defines mental illness, replaced the Mental Health Act 1987. Aimed at transforming the mental healthcare regime in the country, it is enacted to harmonize India's laws with the Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol.
Why Not Use 'Commit'?
Suicide is the “intentional taking of one’s own life.” Suicide is usually seen as a deliberate act, many feel that it’s logical to describe it as something a person commits (i.e., “does, performs, perpetrates”). The issue, though, is that when we use the word commit to describe suicide, it implies that a choice was made in the same way that one might choose to commit a crime or a sin. However, those who die by suicide usually do not feel as though they have a choice.
What Was The Law Before 2017?
Before the government decriminalised suicide in 2017, Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) criminalised attempting suicide as well as suicide assistance.
Section 309 stated:
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
Although section 309 is still in effect, the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 (enacted July 2018) has restricted its application. The relevant provision of the new act states:
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.