Paving the way for decriminalizing attempt to suicide, Rajya Sabha passed the Mental Health Care Bill on Monday. The bill also has provision to provide medical care for those making such attempts, presuming them to be suffering from severe stress.
At present, attempt to suicide is a criminal offence and the person can be booked under Section-309 of IPC, which provides for up to one year's simple imprisonment or fine or both. The recent bill says such persons shall not be liable to punishment under IPC.
Earlier in December in 2014, minister of state for home Kiren Rijiju said during Lok Sabha session that the ministry was in the process of effacing Section 309 as recommended by the Law Commission along with amendment of certain other sections of CrPC and IPC in consultation with all stake-holders.
In the original bill that was first introduced by UPA-II, the government had proposed presuming people trying to commit suicide to be suffering from "mental illness", which has now been changed.
Justifying the amendment, health minister J P Nadda said it was recommended by the standing committee when the bill was referred to it. Responding to objections from AIADMK member Navanetha Krishnan that the bill does not specify what severe stress is.
Nadda said this will be described in the rules, which will be framed after the bill is passed in LS as well. The minister said 6-7% of the country's population suffered from some kind of mental illnesses, while 1-2% suffers from acute mental diseases.
The bill also says that government shall provide care, treatment and rehabilitation to anyone who attempted to commit suicide to reduce the risk of recurrence.