Close Look at an Indian Express Article about the Abolition of Section 309

My take on an article in the Indian Express dated December 22, 2014:

The recent government proposal to strike down Section 309 as a criminal offence under the Indian Penal Code is certainly welcome news. Studies have consistently found that an overwhelming majority of people who die by suicide have a mental disorder at the time of their death. However, often these disorders are hardly recognised, diagnosed or adequately treated.

Agree. True.

The announcement on the deletion of Section 309 does not indicate whether this step is prompted by mental health concerns.

Irrelevant I think, since the phrase in the recommendation, “meets with grave misfortune” ( brought about by social trauma), and “incurably diseased” covers everything. In good health or in bad, I decide what I do with my body and life.

If I am not given this choice, what might happen is, my enemies may drive me into a situation where I am rendered unhealthy, pronounced unhealthy and then that gives them the right to take control of my life.


Using the “mental health” card is just another way to manipulate people and take control of lives that is born with the right of choice.

Rights are rights and one who is in a position to appreciate it fully and the one who is not are both equally entitled to them. To take away the right from someone on the grounds he is incapable of deciding for himself is like denying voice or toys to a sick child and Indian mothers that are control freaks are so used to do that. They control the lives of all significant others all their pathetic lives with that all encompassing excuse of “doing it for love, doing it because I care, doing it because you need it, doing it because you do not know what is good for you”

Arrrrrrrrrrrgh. Insincere. Dishonest and utterly in violation of human rights and m

The government does state, however, that the proposal is based on the recommendations of the reports of the Law Commission of India. The deletion was first recommended in the 42nd report of the Law Commission of 1971.

So they have had enough time with this, and am sure wise people have studied and reflected upon the matter from all imaginable angles before making a recommendation like this. Not exactly a spur of the moment populist decision.

Significantly, this report did not make the recommendation out of mental health concerns surrounding persons committing suicide.

Well from what you quote afterwards, aparently it has it seems. Read on and you would see. It is clearly written:

It relied, among other sources, on the commentators on Manu in the Dharmashastra to state that a person who is driven to death is either “incurably diseased” or “meets with a grave misfortune”. The deletion of Section 309 was suggested out of pity or sympathy for those attempting to commit suicide. The suggestion came up again in the 210th report of the Law Commission in 2008, a document concentrating solely on the decriminalisation of suicide. This report did make references to the fact that persons committing suicide need sympathy, care and treatment, not punishment. But neither report made a strong case for the rights of persons with mental illnesses, continuing to describe them as having an incurable disease and deserving sympathy.

This is a rather outdated understanding of disability.

Really? In what way?! The article itself goes on to clarify and cut across its own argument in the subsequent information:

The disability rights movement has been arguing for an understanding that is not rooted in a medical or a “disease”-based model but in a social model that conceptualises disability as the disadvantages and exclusions faced by people because of social barriers and attitudes.

Seems like a pretty accurate assessment there, “social model”. And so if social trauma led you to decide you do not wish to play other people’s games or be dragged into them, it is your decision and people should honour that as a matter of right to choose!

Unless you want to use my condition to control my life, my resources yourself.

Mental health, if seen through a medical model, is completely surrounded by misunderstandings and negative stereotypes that result in stigma and discrimination against as well as isolation of people with mental illnesses and their families and carers. The social model of disability urges us to look beyond the issues of medical treatment and disease, to the identification of the social barriers that deny people with psycho-social disabilities the rights to employment, education, recreation and even citizenship. This social model is the core of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which has been signed and ratified by India.

Yeah, so now this article recommends that it wants to add another “denial” in that list, “right to choose when you want to stop”.

That persons driven to commit suicide are, more often than not, facing mental health disorders and are in need of care and treatment was suggested in the new Mental Health Care Bill, 2013.

Hidden urge to control, propaganda to control other lives and to keep control in the hands of vested interests. The real meaning of that content is the intent that “anyone that does not conform with what WE SUGGEST is OK, we would mark off as “NOT OK” and mentally unsound and take control of their lives and property.

People that are in any manner associated with writing this kind of article should be trained linguists. In fact, in another life, while editing books on English in Law I had discovered that in one National Law College in Lucknow, they do teach Discourse and Speech Acts and in fact every student aspiring to deal in law or mental health should be well conversant with language because it all hinges on what people are saying and what they actually mean!

This bill provides that any person attempting to commit suicide should be assumed to be suffering from a mental illness, and that it would be the duty of the government to provide him or her with adequate care, treatment and rehabilitation.

Classic example of control freaks and fascist talk.

The Supreme Court also considered suicide as a mental health concern in its judgment on euthanasia in Aruna Shanbaug vs Union of India, in which it recognised that a person attempting suicide is in need of help rather than punishment, and it recommended that Parliament consider the feasibility of deleting Section 309.

Misquote irrelevant to the argument the author was making. This quote is in fact supportive of the government’s decision and is aligned to their stand and is consistent with the action taken.

So, if the government really wants to ensure that the striking down of Section 309 has a significant impact then it must state unequivocally that this step is in recognition of the rights of persons with mental health disabilities who are driven to committing suicide and that they should not be further punished.

The government has unequivocally done that already!

This could be a starting point for the government to take on and address the difficult issues surrounding mental health — the recognition of an individual’s right to receive adequate treatment and care, providing better access to mental health services, including mental health as an integral part of the right to health in government policy, providing adequate funding to ensure access to healthcare, and taking steps against mental health stigma and discrimination.

That in fact is a completely different stand. This article looks like it is a hash of different documents the author may have studied. This recommendation is appropriate.

Finally, the deletion of Section 309 could be the beginning of a series of other deletions, of provisions scattered across various legislation that are harmful and discriminatory to persons with disabilities. Without any of these steps to take it forward, striking down Section 309 would be meaningless.


This article could have caused a lot of damage in the hands of unscrupulous people.
English teaching in schools should teach students to read public reports this way, but in India they never do and teachers that do try to do this in class are promptly sacked lol. So you are convinced that India really is far from being a democracy. underneath the surface it is still not quite awake to the possibilities and the fun of a true and full fledged democracy.