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Merely Sitting On Hunger Strike Will Not Attract Offence Of Attempt To Suicide U/S 309 IPC: Madras High Court

Akshita Saxena
20 Feb 2021 12:22 PM GMT
Merely Sitting On Hunger Strike Will Not Attract Offence Of Attempt To Suicide U/S 309 IPC: Madras High Court
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The Madras High Court has held that merely going on a hunger strike will not attract the offence of 'attempt to commit suicide', which is punishable under Section 309 of IPC. A Single Bench of Justice N. Anand Venkatesh said, "Mere fact that the petitioner has protested by sitting on hunger strike will not attract the offence under Section 309 IPC." Background The observation...

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The Madras High Court has held that merely going on a hunger strike will not attract the offence of 'attempt to commit suicide', which is punishable under Section 309 of IPC.

A Single Bench of Justice N. Anand Venkatesh said,

"Mere fact that the petitioner has protested by sitting on hunger strike will not attract the offence under Section 309 IPC."

Background

The observation was made while hearing a criminal application filed by one P. Chandrakumar, facing criminal charges for making a protest by going on a hunger strike from 15.08.2013 to 24.08.2013.

On completion of the investigation, a final report was filed before the Trial Court, which took cognizance of the matter in 2016.

The Petitioner had argued that even if the allegations against him are taken as it is, no offence has been made out under Section 309 IPC.

He further pointed out that the offence under Section 309 IPC is punishable with a maximum imprisonment of one year. The FIR against him was registered in the year 2013 and the Court below took cognizance in the year 2016, and the same is barred under Section 468 Cr.P.C.

[Section 468 imposes a bar on taking cognizance of an offence that is punishable with imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year, after lapse of one year from th date of alleged incident]

Findings

The Court was of the opinion that even if the materials available on record are taken as it is, it does not constitute an offence under Section 309 IPC.

Further, the Court said that there is a bar on taking cognizance, as argued by the Applicant, in view of section 468. It observed,

"The Court below ought to have taken cognizance within a period of one year since the offence is punishable for a maximum period of one year. However, the Court below has taken cognizance after nearly three years without assigning any reasons. Therefore, taking cognizance of the final report by the Court below is barred by law and stands vitiated."

Know the Law

The Supreme Court of India has observed in its ruling in the Ram Lila Maidan Incident case that a hunger strike is "a form of protest which has been accepted, both historically and legally in our constitutional jurisprudence."

The case of Human Right Activist Irom Sharmila is also relevant in this context. Sharmila was undergoing a prolonged hunger strike against the Anti-Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act.

In 2006, she landed at Jantar Mantar in connection with her Hunger Strike and continued her fast in front of her supporters

She was booked under Section 309 IPC for attempt to commit suicide. However, she denied the charge that she is trying to commit suicide and said that she was using fast as a weapon to achieve her objective.

In 2016, a Delhi Court acquitted her of the charges, stating that the alleged offence against her is not proved. Subsequently, a court in Imphal also dismissed a similar case against her, saying the prosecution had not provided sufficient evidence to prove her guilt.

Also Read: [Attempt To Suicide] Constitutional Validity Of Section 309 IPC And Flip Flops By Supreme Court & Law Commission

Case Title: P. Chandrakumar v. State & Anr.

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