Gian Kaur v. State of Punjab

Bench: J.S. Verma, G.N. Ray, N.P. Singh, Faizan Uddin, and G.T. Nanavati JJ.

Appellant : Gian Kaur

Respondent : State of Punjab

Citation : 1996 AIR 946, 1996 SCC (2) 648

Issue :
  • Whether Section 306 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 is constitutionally valid?
  • Gian Kaur and her husband Harbansh Singh, being the appellants had committed the offence of abetment to suicide of their daughter-in-law, Kulwant Kaur.
  • The Trial Court convicted them both under Section 306 of The Indian Penal Code.
  • The appellants made an appeal at the High Court, who reiterated the Lower Court’s decision making the conviction of the appellants right. Sentence was reduced from 6 years to 3 years of rigorous imprisonment.
  • The Appellants have approached the Supreme Court against their conviction sentence under Section 306 of IPC.
Appellant’s contentions:
  • The petitioners contended that Section 306 of IPC must be held constitutionally invalid with reference to the case of P. Rathinam v. Union of India[1], which declared Section 309 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 as unconstitutional as it is violative of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.
  • It was held in P. Rathinam case that `right to die’ falls within the ambit of Article 21 of the Constitution, and any person assisting the enforcement of the `right to die’ is merely assisting the enforcement of Article 21, which is the fundamental right under Article 21 and it cannot be penal.
  • Section 309 of IPC is unconstitutional since it is violative of Article 14 of the Constitution on the grounds that the provision is “discriminative, arbitrary, barbaric and monstrous”.
Respondent’s contentions :
  • The Respondents contended that Section 306 of The Indian Penal Code, 1860 which talks about the abetment of attempt to suicide is an independent provision, hence it does not rely on Section 309 of the same act.
  • Respondents wanted the ruling of the case P. Rathinam v. Union of India to be struck down since Section 309 of IPC is also constitutionally valid.
  • ‘Right to life’ is inherently inconsistent with the ‘right to die’ and the right to die cannot fall within the ambit of Article 21.
Final Decision:

The five-judge Constitutional Bench had held that “Right to Life” under Article 21 of Indian Constitution does not include the “Right to Die” or “right to be killed”.