Senate standing committee passes amendment to decriminalise attempted suicide: report


ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Interior on Thursday passed ‘The Criminal Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2017’, seeking to replace a colonial penal law by decriminalising attempted suicide, according to a report by a  private media outlet.

The bill says that instead of facing legal charges, those who attempt suicide should be treated as patients and provided the required interventions.

Senator Abdul Rehman Malik chaired the meeting that passed the Pakistan Penal Code, 1860 and the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898 (The Criminal Laws [Amendment] Bill, 2017) moved by Senator Karim Ahmed Khawaja with the amendment that attempted suicide will be considered as de-criminalised under the law only if someone is diagnosed with depression or any illnesses after going through a complete medical check-up.

Chairman of the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) Dr Qibla Ayaz said that suicide is forbidden in Islam but as per the council recommendation regarding attempted suicide, the law should not be applied over those who are diagnosed with depression or any illness.

After holding a detailed discussion, the committee conducted voting on the bill and passed it, with a six-one vote.

According to Section 325 of the Pakistan Penal Code, 1860, “Whoever attempts to commit suicide and does any act towards the commission of such offence shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both.”

A panel of renowned psychiatrists, who were present in the meeting, highlighted the state of mind of frustrated individuals who opt to take their own lives, saying whosoever does it should be treated as a patient rather than prosecuting them for a failed suicide attempt.

Malik said attempted suicide is a disease rather than an offence. He said that many countries across the world and also the United Nations have termed suicide a disease.

According to the statement of objects and reasons of the bill, the last stage of frustration often results in attempted suicide and it is the duty of the state to provide relief to its citizens, instead of penalising those who may already be suffering.

However, a senior official of the Ministry of Interior said that the ministry opposed the amendment bill as omission of Section 325 would encourage people to attempt suicide and therefore insisted that the section should remain there as deterrence.

The committee has also approved ‘The Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Bill, 2017’ moved by senators Mukhtiar Dhamra and Murtaza Wahab.