Report No. 156
Suicide: Abetment and Attempt
Section 306: Abetment of Suicide
8.01. Section 306 of the Indian Penal Code penalises abetment of suicide. It reads as:
"306. Abetment of Suicide.-If any person commits suicide, whoever abets the commission of such suicide, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term not exceeding ten years, and shall also be liable to fine."
8.02. The constitutionality of section 306 was challenged in Gian Kaur v. State of Punjab, 1996 (2) SCALE 881 Upholding the constitutionality of section 306, the Supreme Court held that section 306 enacted a distinct offence which is capable of existence independent of section 309. The Court observed:1
"Section 306 prescribes punishment for 'abetment of suicide' while section 309 punishes 'attempt to commit suicide'. Abetment of attempt to commit suicide is outside the purview of section 306 and it is punishable only under section 309 read with section 107, I.P.C.. In certain other jurisdictions, even though attempt to commit suicide is not a penal offence yet the abettor is made punishable. The provision there provides for the punishment of abetment of suicide as well as abetment of attempt to commit suicide.
Thus even where the punishment for attempt to commit suicide is not considered desirable, its abetment is made a penal offence. In other words assisted suicide and assisted attempt to commit suicide are made punishable for cogent reasons in the Interest of society. Such a provision is considered desirable to also prevent the danger Inherent in the absence of such a penal provision."
1. Ibid., at 891
8.03. In England and Wales, the Suicide Act of 1961 has abrogated the rule of law whereby it is a crime for a person to commit suicide (section 1). Section 2(1) of the Act imputes criminal liability for complicity in another's suicide. It reads: "2(1).-A person who aids, abets, counsels or procures the suicide of another, or an attempt by another to commit suicide, shall be liable on conviction on indictment to Imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years."