The djinn appears to have come out of the bottle once again. On April 3, 2004, a leading National Daily of India splashed this news on the front page, which once again begs us the question, "Is it alright to take one's own life when one is in pain?".
In India Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) specifically bars a person to take his own life. Sometime during the mid nineties, Indian Supreme Court in its wisdom declared that taking one's own life constitutes one of the fundamental rights of every person, and this section appeared to have been struck off. However this section was included once again a few years later. The current position in this country is that Section 309 - An attempt to commit suicide - is a crime. A person who unsuccessfully commits suicide is liable to imprisonment for upto one year. This is how the actual statement goes:
Section 309. Attempt to commit suicide: Whoever attempts to commit suicide and does any act towards the commission of such offence, shall he punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year or with fine, or with both. [please click here for full text of Indian Penal Code]
What happens when a person sits for fast unto death, for a seeming just cause, say, for better work conditions of workers in a factory? Can he be charged for attempt to commit suicide? In a 1962 Indian case [Ram Sundar v State, AIR 1962 All 262], it was laid down that if a person openly declares that he will fast unto death and refused food until a stage is reached when there is immiinent danger to his life, he can be held guilty under this section, but if the evidence falls short of that, he cannot be convicted.
What about physician assisted suicide?
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