A Bihar based advocate has filed a case against a number of Bollywood influential people alleging that actor Sushant Singh Rajput was driven to suicide by an influential gang that virtually controlled the industry. Advocate Sudhir Kumar Ojha citing the reasons that the late actor was removed from seven films and the said treatment forced him to take the extreme step of death by suicide, has filed an abetment case against eight people from the industry, including Karan Johar, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Salman Khan, and Ekta Kapoor.
Ojha said the case was filed against Sections 306 (abetment of suicide), 109 (punishment of abetment if the act abetted is committed in consequence and where no express provision is made for its punishment), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace) and 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation). “In the complaint, I have alleged that Sushant Singh Rajput was removed from around seven films and some of his films were not released. Such a situation was created which forced him to take the extreme step,” the advocate said. Responding to the allegations, producer Ekta Kapoor said that she is “beyond upset at how convoluted theories can be. In fact, I was the one who launched him in this industry.” The Maharashtra government too had decided to probe the angles of professional rivalry along with Sushant’s reported clinical depression. Sushant who was found hanging at his Bandra residence on Sunday (June 14) in an apparent suicide bid, was cremated on Monday (June 15) at the Pawan Hans crematorium in Mumbai.
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 not doing something that he was bound to do
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) 2 S.C.C. 648: (1996) S.C.C. 374 (India)] and was argued that the section debased the Article 21 of The Constitution of India 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.
Furthermore, in P. Rathinam[P. Rathinam V Union of India (1994) 3 S.C.C. 394 : (1994) S.C.C. 740 (India)] 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.
Section 309 of the IPC is based on the principle that human life is valuable to both, themselves including their family as well as to the State which protects them but, is questioned many times as it is covered under Chapter XVI of the Offences Affecting the Human Body and is considered a crime. The person, who attempts suicide and fails, is sent to jail to mingle with other criminals instead of providing him with psychiatric attention and bring him back as a healthy citizen. Hence punishing an individual for attempting suicide would do more harm than good as imprisonment will only have an adverse effect on their mental health.
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.”
The appropriate Government shall have a 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 attempt to commit suicide. Decriminalizing an attempt to commit suicide would not actually result in an increase in the number of suicides but would only encourage the survivors to seek help.
This is with respect to the 210th Report of the Law Commission of India titled “Humanisation and Decriminalization of Attempt to Suicide”. The report states that “Section 309 needs to be effaced from the Code as the provision is inhuman, irrespective of whether it is constitutional or unconstitutional. The annulment of the antiquated law enclosed in Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code would save many lives and relieve the distress of his suffering.”
Thus to conclude, Right to Life doesn’t mean mere forceful living, it means living with dignity. Thus, the Right to Live should also include the Right to die with dignity and end of one’s life.
Consequently, it is very well reasoned that the decriminalization of suicide is only one stage towards facilitating the devastating disconnection felt by individuals enduring psychological sicknesses in the country. Passing laws is an important factor while at the same time actualizing them is another.
The disfavor around the psychological illness isn’t simply social, it is incorporated with our very frameworks of political issues and medicinal services. The moment we make an effort to bring a change in each sphere, we may realize that there’s a ton of work to do in managing the plague of suicide in India.
- [(1996) 2 S.C.C. 648: (1996) S.C.C. 374 (India)]
- P. Rathinam V Union of India (1994) 3 S.C.C. 394 : (1994) S.C.C. 740 (India)]
Muskan hails from DY Patil University, Navi Mumbai and she spends most of her time in charity and reading. Her Interest area lies in Consumer laws. For any clarifications, feedback, and advice, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org