Attempt to Commit Suicide - Section 309

Attempt to Commit Suicide - Section 309

The crime of attempting to commit suicide is covered under Section 309 of the IPC. This law was brought in by the British in the 19th century. The main purpose behind making this law was to stop people from taking any such measure to end their life. This reflected the thinking of the time when killing or attempting to kill oneself was considered a crime against the state, as well as against religion.

What is IPC 309?

Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code,1860 is levied when a person has tried to commit suicide, had taken the necessary steps to commit it but at the end is saved somehow and could not commit suicide. Only the crime of committing suicide is one that is not punishable after the crime is done. Committing suicide is a crime, but as the principle of law says that the person after suicide cannot be punished because the person is dead, so when a person did not succeed in committing suicide after attempting to do it and survives, it is also a crime. Because according to the Indian Constitution and tradition as well, even attempting to commit suicide is considered a crime. 

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For a case to be considered as an attempt to commit suicide, there are two important points :

  1. The intention of dying is necessary -Doing an action that could lead to the death of the person doing it, with the intention of dying means attempting to suicide. But if someone performs an action in self-defense or with any other intention other than taking his/her own life would not come under attempting to suicide. For example- In a village, a couple had some disagreement and fought. After which the husband threatened to beat up his wife. That night, the wife tried to elope with her 6-month-old baby. But she thought that somebody was following her. Thinking it was her husband, she got scared that he would beat her up, along with her baby jumped in a nearby well, thinking she would be safe from her husband. but that step led to the death of the baby but she was saved. This case would not be a case of an attempt to suicide because she had no intention of dying, she just tried to save herself from her husband. An action if performed with the intention and purpose of death is necessary for it to be an attempt to suicide. Nonetheless, in this case, the court can hold the lady for the death of her child because, at the time of jumping into the well, the lady must and should have thought of the consequences which might lead to the death of the baby. If the lady had jumped into the good thinking to end her life but still was saved, then it would be considered as an attempt to commit suicide because she had the intent and plan of dying.

  2. Action must be taken for committing suicide and not only mere preparation to do it – Only by mere thinking of committing suicide, a person cannot be held liable for the attempt of it. He has to take some action and then only he can be charged with the offence under Section 309 of IPC. Similarly, only preparing the things needed to commit suicide is not enough for it to charge as an offence. For example- a boy thinking of committing suicide, arranged the woods necessary so that he could burn himself to death. He made a pile of wood and sat in between them but did not burn fire. Before he could light the fire, police came and arrested him under Section 309. But in this case, he would not be guilty because he had not lit up the fire yet and his mind could have changed any second before actually the fire was lit.

Is IPC 309 bailable?

Yes, IPC Section 309 is bailable

Is IPC 309 a cognizable offence or a non-cognizable offence?

IPC Section 309 is a Cognizable offence and can be tried by any magistrate.

What is the punishment for IPC 309 Case?

The person can be imprisoned for up to 1 year or can be asked to pay some amount of fine or both.

How to file/defend your case for IPC 309 offence?

Lawtendo is a law-tech company that has around 15000+ lawyers across India on our platform who can help you file/defend your case for IPC Section 309. Lawtendo aims to facilitate legal services/advice provided to the clients are cost-efficient and quality service. You can contact us at +91-967133666 or [email protected].

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Famous Judgements pertaining to Section 309 of IPC :

  1. Chenna Jagadeeswar And Anr. vs State Of Andhra Pradesh on (16 April 1987) – in this case, the court held that Section 309 of IPC does not violate Articles 21 and 19 of the Indian Constitution.  Amd section 309 was considered valid.

  2. Maruti Shripati Dubal vs State Of Maharashtra on (25 September 1986) – in this case, the judgment given by the High Court of Mumbai was opposite to the judgment given in the Chenna Jagadeeswar case. It was held that section 309 of IPC violates Article 21,19 and 14 of the Indian Constitution. ‘right to life’ does not include ‘right to die’. Attempting to commit suicide under any circumstance would be considered an offence.

  3. P Rathinam Vs. Union Of India ( 26 April 1994) – in this case, the Supreme Court struck down Section 309 considering it ultra vires, which means an act that is beyond the legal power of a person. In this case, it was held that if a person has attempted to commit suicide, he must be unstable mentally and must be going through a lot already. And punishing a person for trying to end his life because he was in trouble, would not help his mental health at all. The person definitely had taken such a measure because he was under great stress and punishing him would cause him more stress. So this section was taken down.

  4. Gian Kaur Vs. The State of Punjab (21 March 1996) – In this case, the decision of P. Rathinam case was struck down and it was held that Section 309 is constitutionally valid. It was held that the ‘right to die’ does not fall in the ambit of Article 21 which is right to life’, ‘right to die’ is considered to be unconstitutional. The reason behind attempting to die is of no question, it would be considered an offence whether it was performed for any reason whatsoever.

  5. Rajasthan High Court case – This is a very famous case and the court here ruled that the Jain practice of Santhara was made punishable under Section 309, a practice where the Jain priests decide to die by not consuming any food or liquid and sitting at a single place and then gradually their soul would leave their body. The Rajasthan High Court held that this is as good as a suicide so it would be considered as attempting to commit suicide under Section 309. And the priest would also be convicted under Section 306, which is an abetment to suicide as it encourages the Jains to perform similarly under religious beliefs.

 This beautiful article on IPC Section 309 was drafted by Ms. Ishika Choudhary, BALLB – 2nd year, Amity Law School.

Offence Punishment Cognizance Bail Triable By
Attempt to commit suicide Simple Imprisonment for 1 Year or Fine or Both Cognizable Bailable Any Magistrate
Offence Attempt to commit suicide
Punishment Simple Imprisonment for 1 Year or Fine or Both
Cognizance Cognizable
Bail Bailable
Triable By Any Magistrate


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