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Petitioner’s act spared from the punitive punishment by Section 115 of IPC: Kerala High Court

Petitioner’s act spared from the punitive punishment by Section 115 of IPC by the Kerala High Court in the case of Simi C.N. v. State of Kerala through Justice K. Haripal

FACTS OF THE CASE

It was claimed that the petitioner engaged in an altercation in the village office after the de facto complainant and others demanded that certificates be issued to applicants for the Life Mission Scheme manually only after receiving instructions from the official hierarchy. The petitioner allegedly attempted suicide by cutting her veins as a result of her mental anguish. By trying to kill herself by severing her veins, the petitioner violated Section 309 of the Penal Code of 1860.

According to the petitioner’s attorney, Section 115 of the Act exempts the petitioner from criminal accountability because attempts at suicide are considered to have been made under extreme stress unless proven differently and are not subject to criminal prosecution or punishment under the Code. The attorney further stated that anyone experiencing stress can benefit from the aforementioned rule.

JUDGMENT

The High Court stated that for decades, there had been much debate in the legal community on the validity and appropriateness of the law’s prohibition of suicide attempts.

According to Section 115 of the IPC, proceedings cannot be pursued in the absence of criminal intent. In a similar vein, the Himachal Pradesh High Court determined that the procedures constitute a clear misuse of the legal system in the case of Pratibha Sharma v. State of Himachal Pradesh.

The majority opinion among judges and legal authorities is that suicide attempts should not be considered crimes. Medical professionals also hold the opinion that it is not a crime against the State, but rather that the State may be somewhat to blame for the victim’s condition in leaving him with no choice but to end his life.

In the current situation, it should be noted that the petitioner had no ulterior motives for postponing the issuance of certificates, and she provided her own justifications. In reality, she was not expected to give certificates manually when applications were submitted online. Although the petitioner was rounded up by the panchayat president and her lieutenants, who also put her under a great deal of mental strain. The petitioner endured yelling and verbal abuse.

The petitioner had to handle everything on his or her own when a heated situation in the office forced police to arrive, the High Court stated. The petitioner was mistreated and coerced into taking a formal action that was against office policy. She also seemed to be imprisoned in her room and bound against her will.

Finally, the Court claimed that during times of extreme stress, the woman lost her equilibrium and made an effort to kill herself by severing her veins. She performed the alleged offence while under extreme mental stress, which is made out to be a compelling argument against prosecuting her and punishing her in accordance with the Penal Code.

The  Court noted that a significant portion of society believes that suicidal behaviour is typically a symptom of psychiatric illness or an act of psychological distress, suggesting that the person requires assistance in his personal and psychological life, not criminal prosecution, conviction, and the imposition of substantive sentences and fines on those convicted of suicidal behaviours.

Therefore, the petitioner’s act was spared from the punitive punishment by Section 115 of IPC.

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JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY NISHTHA GARHWAL

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