abetment to Suicide- Definition, Punishment, and Exceptions

While drafting any law, Indian legislators made protecting the sanctity of life a sine qua non aim. It has tried to defend life itself, in addition to maintaining a healthy existence for human life. The state’s level of regard for a person’s life is best explained by the fact that it not only prevents someone from taking another person’s life, but also punishes someone who tries to end his own life by suicide. While drafting any law, Indian legislators have made protecting the sanctity of life a sine qua non aim. It has tried to defend life itself, in addition to maintaining a healthy existence for human life. The state’s level of regard for a person’s life is best explained by the fact that it not only prevents someone from taking another person’s life, but also punishes someone who tries to end his own life by suicide.

  • Offenses

In the landmark case of Ramesh Kumar v. State of Chhattisgarh[1], it was established that “instigation” might be inferred from a succession of conduct on the side of the accused that led to the establishment of conditions in which the dead had no choice but to commit suicide. This series of activities could involve the use of force, words, behaviour, deliberate omission or deeds, or even the accused’s silence in order to annoy or aggravate the deceased, leading to the latter’s decision to terminate one’s life. To persuade the deceased to commit suicide, this overt act must be accompanied by a concurrent factor known as the mens rea. However, the Supreme Court has stated in a number of decisions that the term “instigation” should not be confused with “intimidation”. Intimidation may frighten the person on the receiving end, prompting retaliation, whereas words made in response to instigation may provoke or encourage the deceased to commit suicide.

  • Definition and section

Section 306, IPC[2] states that, “If any person commits suicide, whoever abets the commission of such suicide shall be punished with such imprisonment of either sort of a duration as may amount to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.”

To get a successful conviction under this section, three conditions must be met: first, the deceased must have committed suicide, second, the accused under this section must have helped or inspired him/her to perform such an act, and third, the accused’s alleged involvement must be direct.

  • Punishment with sections

Section 309, IPC[3] reads as follows- Anyone who attempts to commit suicide and commits any act that aids in the commission of the crime is subject to a one-year sentence of simple imprisonment, a fine, or both.

  • Exceptions

Euthanasia case:

Aruna Ramchandra Shanbaug v. Union of India[4] is a case where the plaintiff, Aruna Ramchandra Shanbaug, sued the government of India. Despite the fact that the court allowed passive euthanasia in exceptional circumstances and under the strict supervision of the court, the question of whether a person should be allowed to cause the death of another person should be considered illegal in cases where the latter is in a permanent vegetative state with no hope of recovery has been referred to a constitutional bench in a recent case. This appears to be crucial because it has the potential to redefine the definition of abetment to suicide by removing the crucial ingredient of instigation.

  • Case briefs
  • Dammu Sreenu v. State of A.P.[5]

In the case of Dammu Sreenu v. State of A.P., the wife had an illicit relationship with another man who used to pay frequent visits to their place of residence, where on one such day he openly announced that since the deceased’s wife had no objection to him visiting their place of residence, he would continue to come, and then took her away and held her for four days, causing the deceased coffin to be thrown away. The Supreme Court concluded that, given the proximity and nexus between the appellant’s behaviour and that of the deceased’s wife to the act of suicide, no interference should be made with the Lower Courts’ plain and unambiguous conclusions that the appellant was guilty under section 306 of the IPC.

  • Satvir Singh v. State of Punjab[6]

A young mother of two children, a double graduate, ran into the rail in front of a speeding train to put an end to her life as well as her suffering. She was compelled to take such step as a result of the horrible treatment she received at her nuptial house. But fate was terrible to her as well, as the locomotive she wished to be her destroyer, instead of snuffing out her existence in an instant, turned her into a genuine vegetable. Her left hand was amputated at the shoulder joint, and her spinal cord was ruptured. She became a paraplegic as a result of the accident. She herself compared her current situation to that of a live corpse. As a result, the afflictions she wished to be free of morphed into a monster dimension that will encircle her for the rest of her life.

The Sessions Court condemned her husband, father-in-law, and mother-in-law (the appellants before us) under Section 306 IPC.


[1] Ramesh Kumar v. State of Chhattisgarh 2001 (9) SCC 618.

[2] Section 306, The Indian Penal Code, 1860

[3] Section 309, The Indian Penal Code, 1860

[4] Aruna Ramchandra Shanbaug v. Union of India (2011) 4 SCC 454.

[5] Dammu Sreenu v. State of A.P. AIR 2009 SC 2532.

[6] Satvir Singh And Ors vs State of Punjab And Anr AIR 2001 SC 2826.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published.