The decision of the NDA government to do away with Section 309 of IPC and thereby decriminalize attempt to suicide is a move that should be welcomed by all sections of the society. This is a much-awaited move and it shows Narendra Modi government in a good light. Section 309 has been criticized for a long time by legal experts as well as by human rights champions.
It certainly had become anachronism for modern times. It is really beyond imagination that in India we still treat someone who attempts to kill himself or herself as a petty criminal fit to be incarcerated for one full year. The modern view is far more sympathetic as it views someone who has taken the extreme step of attempting suicide as a person who is in urgent need of moral, ethical and medical help. Instead of offering help that the person urgently needs, we have been coercing him or her to go through the tiring mill of legal punishment that itself can drive a perfectly sane person to the same situation.
It is also important that the government realizes the need to offer necessary support to those who are unfortunate enough to have thought of taking one’s life. For this an elaborate infrastructure would have to be created where such persons can be offered requisite counselling and medical and psychological help.
There are many more such absurd laws in our statute books that need to be revisited. Narendra Modi government is doing well by focusing on those legal reforms that can be implemented easily and without much of an opposition. Such small steps can go a long way in ameliorating the condition of the common man. One can only think what relief this would bring to a person who in depression does try to take his life and is somehow saved from doing so. Now that he or she would not have the burden of criminality, he or she can be helped to seek medical and psychological help and can indeed have a hope of being healed.
There are several other laws that would require fresh attention from the new government. The very fact that the new government is visiting these uncharted areas shows that it is serious about making governance more effective. One can only laud the efforts to reform the laws wherever required.