Short Note on Abetment to suicide

This article has been written by Harsimran Kaur, a 4th-year law student from New Law College, BVDU (Pune).

Credits: Ava Blue


Suicide or self-annihilation is a widespread incident affecting the people of all classes throughout the globe. It is the crime in which both the accused and the victim are the same person affecting himself/herself. The crime has been detailed in Indian Penal Code, 1860 and provides for the punishment as well to control the commission of offences. Attempt to suicide and abetment of suicide are totally different things which are punishable under Section 309 and Section 306 of Indian Penal Code respectively. Section 306 brings out with the punishment for abetment of suicide while Section 309 punishes for the attempt to commit suicide.

Abetment of an attempt to commit suicide is outside the leaps of section 306 and it is punishable only under section 309 read with section 107, IPC. So, even where the punishment for attempt to commit suicide is not considered desirable, its abetment is made a penal offence in the interest of the society. So, such a provision is considered desirable to prevent the danger inherent in the absence of such a penal provision. Abetment’s actual meaning is the instigation of a person to do or not to do an act in a certain way, or aid given by some person to another either on his own choice or circumstances arising out of constructive and joint liability.

Abetment to suicide includes a mental process to get going an individual or intentionally helping a person in taking his life on his very own. This section is based on a logical public policy to prevent other person’s involvement, aiding and instigation in terminating one’s life. It takes care of the situation and threats imposed by death torturer. Section 305 in Indian Penal Code, 1860 provides for the punishment of an individual who abets the commission of the suicide of a child, not being eighteen years of age, an insane individual or a person being intoxicated, which is death or life imprisonment, or imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years, and shall also be liable for a fine.

For example

If A persuades B to kill himself by swallowing a rat poison tablet and B under his influence consumes it, then A would be liable as an abettor under this section.

Constitutional Validity of Section 306, IPC:

In Naresh Morotrao v Union of India, the validity of Section 306 was observed and the court held that Section 306 constitutes an offence which is independent in character entirely. It is arranged on the principle of public policy that no individual should involve himself in, or instigate, or aid the commission of a crime. It is in consonance with Articles 14 and 21 of the Indian Constitution.

Abetment of Suicide

For conviction under this section, the prosecution has to prove-

  1. Commission of suicide by the deceased,

  2. Instigating done by the accused of committing suicide, and

  3. Mental state of the accused.

When the suicide is performed then only the liability arises for abetment. In the case of attempted suicide, provisions of Section 306 will not be applicable. In line with the definition of ‘abetment’ given in section 107 of the Indian Penal Code, the offence of abetment to suicide must be constituted. There must be suggesting, or engaging in conspiracy or assistance in the commission of the offence.

To convict a person under Section 305 or 306, IPC. There has to be a specific presence of intention(mens rea) to commit this offence and the accused actually made a positive move towards influencing the victim to take his or her life.

To attract the components of abetment, the intention of the accused to aid, instigate, or abet the deceased to commit suicide is necessary. So the basic constituents of an offence under section 306 are suicidal death and abetment along with direct involvement by the accused in such instigation is requisite and thus punishment for a term which can exceed to ten years imprisonment or fine.

Important ingredients of abetment

Section 306 of the Indian Penal Code defines abetment of suicide as:

If any person commits suicide, whoever abets the commission of such suicide, shall be punishable with such imprisonment of either description of a term which may extend to 10 years, and shall also be liable to fine.”

In order to bring a successful conviction under this section it is important that its three essential ingredients stand to be fulfilled: