This article is written by Astha Dwivedi.
For long the question has been debated whether our Constitution should be referred as the “Indian Constitution” or the “Constitution of India”. Although the Constitution has borrowed the provisions for fundamental rights from other Constitutions, there shall be no hesitation in referring our Constitution as ours in true sense. The golden triangle of the Constitution of India, comprising of Article 14, 19 & 21 has always been a tool at the hands of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India whenever any question regarding fundamental rights has been raised. Where the Constitution guarantees the right to life and personal liberty to every person through Article 21, the question has arose whether an individual have the right to decide to put a full stop to his life. For long the question was answered in negative on arguments of Constitutional supremacy.
The following research article deals with the same question in light of recent developments in the Constitutional and Criminal justice system of the country. After decades of debate, the Hon’ble Supreme Court finally decided to break its silence in the landmark case of Aruna Shanbaug where the Court held the right to die to be an intrinsic part of the right to life. The author in the following research article has proposed a deep research into the subject by explaining its historical background and its constitutional philosophy. The author has travelled beyond by expanded the scope of study to critical analysis of the Aruna Shanbaug judgment, drawing a comparative analysis of the legality of euthanasia in countries like India, the USA, the UK, Netherlands & Switzerland. Since the concept of euthanasia is a young concept to the Indian Justice System, the author has also highlighted its advantages and disadvantages which shall be instrumental in better understanding of the topic to the reader.
Aims and Objectives
- To study about the history of Euthanasia in India.
- To understand the reasoning behind why Right to die is not included in Right to life under Article 21.
- To know about the different types of Euthanasia present in the global environment.
- To understand the difference between euthanasia and murder along with the difference between euthanasia and suicide.
- To understand how Aruna Shanbaug case brought a new twist in India with reference to euthanasia.
- To study about the legality of euthanasia in different countries like Netherland, U.S.A., England and Switzerland.
- To know about the advantages and disadvantages of Euthanasia with respect to all the perspectives.
“I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul”
-William Ernest Henley
The Right to Die has always been a debatable topic in the global world. In India, it has been remained the hot topic since ages with respect to different religions. According to the Article 21 of the Constitution of India, “no person should be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to the procedure established by law”. Though this article is structured in negative form but the essence of it has an affirmative effect on an individual’s life. It confers moral and legal imperative on the state to give the citizens of the country a good and respectable life.
With the period of time, there have been various interpretations of the term “right to life” by various Indian Judges through different coming cases in front of them. Today, it has taken sever rights under its periphery. This include right to live a respectable life, right to have food, right to get proper education to all, right to get pollution free environment, right to get proper roof to live and various other rights for the better life of an individual. The question which arises now is whether the right to end one’s life also comes under the periphery of right to life with dignity. There have been various perspectives over this point which includes legitimate, political, virtuous and medical perspectives. However, for the first time this question was raised in the case of State of Maharashtra v. Maruty Sripati Dubal, where it was declared that right to die comes under the periphery of right to life but this decision was changed in later cases.
In a general way, the Right to die can be understood as right to end one’s own life. This can be done through suicide and euthanasia. The Indian Penal Code, 1860 punishes the attempt to suicide through the section 309 of the Code. Though it is a general understanding that the person who attempts suicide would be suffering from some mental health problem and still an individual is punished for the same which is debatable. The second method to die is through the pathway of euthanasia.
Euthanasia is a term having Greek roots ‘eu’ which means ‘good’ and ‘thanatos’ which means ‘death’. Thus, euthanasia can be meant as ‘death which is good’. It can also be known as killing someone with mercy. This kind of death is usually given or asked by the person who is at the path of a disease which is not curable. Thus with compassion to save the person from the suffering of a disease which is not curable, euthanasia is used. There have been various definitions of euthanasia. Merriam Webster has defined the term euthanasia as “A deliberate termination of life on an individuals’ request, by another, in medical terminology, the active and deliberate termination of life on patients’ request, by a doctor.” It has been divided into four parts namely voluntary, involuntary, active and passive.
Along with India, there have been various other countries where this issue has existed as a debatable topic whether it is U.S.A, Netherland or any other country. There have been various questions related to this that whether to live life with dignity doesn’t allow the person to die with dignity. Instead of unnecessary suffering, why can’t a person die with their own consent? After listening and considering all these questions, the apex court of India in the case of Aruna Shanbaug gave the judgment declaring that passive euthanasia is now legal in India.
- How the Right to Die conflicts Right to Life under Article 21?
- Whether the concept of Right to die with dignity prevailed in earlier civilization also?
- What are the different types of Euthanasia?
- What is the difference between Euthanasia and Suicide along with Euthanasia and Murder?
- How the Gian Kaur case brought change in right to die from M.S. Dubal case?
- How did Aruna Shanbaug case proved a turning point in the case of Euthanasia in India?
- What are the various laws with respect to Euthanasia in various countries?
In the article, “Concept of Euthanasia in India-A Socio-Legal Analysis” by Friedrich Nietzsche, the author talks about the concept of euthanasia and what are it’s different type. He also clarifies the difference between Euthanasia and Suicide along with Euthanasia and Murder. He says that suicide and euthanasia purpose is same but the mode to achieve it varies. Further the author lays emphasis on the current status of euthanasia in India and how through some cases its status changed. Lastly the article ends at some suggestions by applying which we can improve the system of Euthanasia in India.
In the article, “Right to ‘Die with Dignity’: Analysis of ‘Common Cause v Union of India’ 2018” by G. K. Goswami & Siddhartha Goswami, the author talks about how two leading case which are Gian Kaur Case and Aruna Shanbaug Case changed the legal perspective of Euthanasia and Suicide in India. It also discusses the 196th report of Law Commission of India which talked about rules and regulations which can be formed to regulate Euthanasia and various other aspects related to physicians and family members. It analyses Common Cause case along with Airedale case. Lastly, the article ends at talking about Culpability in Euthanasia & Attempted suicide in India.
In the article, “Right to Life with Dignity also includes Right to Die with Dignity: Time to Amend Article 21 of Indian Constitution & Law of Euthanasia” by Pyali Chatterjee. The author talks about that it is high time to include right to die under Right to Life with dignity. The author gives example of countries like California where right to die is included in right to life with dignity. Further the article discusses the difference between Active and Passive Euthanasia along with the benefit of legalizing them.
In the article “Position of Euthanasia in India-An Analytical Study” by Caesar Roy, the author discusses that right to suicide was prevalent in India since the time of Lord Ram. It talks about the meaning of euthanasia and its different type. The article begins with the historical background of euthanasia in different religions. Then it talks about the legal aspect of Euthanasia in India along with other different countries. The article discusses in brief the Aruna case with its different dimension. At last, article talks about the present scenario and liability of doctors in the case of euthanasia.
In the article, “Does Right to Life includes Right to Die?” by Dignath Raj Sehgal, the author as the name suggests talks whether right to die can be included in Right to live with Dignity. The article analyses the validity of Section 309 in the Indian Penal Code. It discusses various cases and how they brought change in the legal system of India with respect to right to die.
The History of the Law
The concept of Right to die is not a new notion in the global world. The human society has been witnessing it from the very previous ages. The history has seen it in the times of Roman and Greek civilization where in some cases it was seen that people used to help others to put them to death if needed. We can see it in the case of Sparta, a Greek city where child who were born with some disability were killed. The concept of voluntary euthanasia where an individual with his own consent use to practice euthanasia in the situation of illness was a notion which was performed in various ancient culture by the people of older age group. In various holy books and texts like the holy Bible, the holy Koran and the Rig Veda, there is mention of the concept of suicide or self-annihilation.
When we talk about India, we can witness various examples from the Vedic Age where people have applied their right to die and committed suicide on the basis of religious foundation. The same is evident in the case of Mahabharata and the Ramayana. Among Hindu’s there is difference of perspective present in the case of euthanasia. The one perspective says that the doctors who provide euthanasia, on the very first hand, should not accept such requests of the patient as it will lead to the unnatural death of the person separating his soul and body. Due to this act, both the doctors and the patient karma will get harmed. Another set of people believe that the euthanasia should not be practiced as it is opposite to the concept of ahimsa which works on the principle of not killing anyone. However, there are third sects of Hindus who believe in the practice of euthanasia as they consider ending someone’s life who is in pain and trouble is a moral obligation of a person and by doing this an individual is accomplishing a good deed.
In the case of Muslims, they do not believe in the concept of euthanasia. They believe that human and their life is very pious as it has been provided by the Allah and therefore only Allah has the right to take away someone’s life. The interference of humans is not allowed in this. The same is believed by mostly Christians. The reasoning which is mostly given by them is that God has gifted human with life and the cycle of birth and dying is made by God and to disturb it will lead to imbalance in this global world. Hence, whoever be the person and whatever be the situation, a human is not allowed to take someone else life.
In the case of Sikh, their thoughts are mostly extracted from their holy scripture named Guru Granth Sahib and the Rehat Maryada which talks about code of conduct of Sikhs. The concept of suicide and euthanasia was also denied by Sikhs as they also came forth with the same reasoning that it is obtrusion in the plan of God. They believe that pleasure and pain are part of the life that God has given them and they should make the best use of it instead of protesting.
Types of Euthanasia
There are various beliefs with respect to euthanasia but certain types of euthanasia are considered legal in various countries. Euthanasia can be classified into five parts as-
ACTIVE– An intended act to shorten the life of a person is known as “active euthanasia”. In this process, the person is injected with a baleful dosage of medicine to put him into the state of death without any pain and with mercy. This action is taken only after the consent of the person in pain. Thus, it can be said that in the case of active euthanasia, an action is taken against the patient to lead him/her to death.
PASSIVE– In the case of passive euthanasia, all the extra treatment which is necessary for a person to survive is removed. This can be easily understood as withholding dialysis of a person suffering from kidney problem or removal of machine to support heart and lungs of a person in a coma. Thus, we can say that removal of all the essentials which are supporting in extending the life of a person is known as passive euthanasia. It is mostly done to the people who are in Persistent Vegetative State (PVS).
VOLUNTARY– As the term suggests, the voluntary euthanasia is when the person with his own consent or the consent from his legitimate guardians agrees to end his life through euthanasia. The consent of a patient should not come under any sort of forcefulness. If we look at international practice, this is the most acceptable form of euthanasia.
INVOLUNTARY– Again, as the term suggests, the act of providing euthanasia to a person without his/her willful consent is known as involuntary euthanasia. It is also considered as a murder of the person.
NON-VOLUNTARY– In the case of non-voluntary euthanasia, the person is not able to express his assent to die due to his illness. The family of the person decides on his behalf that it is better to end his life. Thus, the decision is taken by the family rather than the patient.
In India, through Aruna Shanbaug case, passive euthanasia has been allowed by the SC to perform in the required state.
Euthanasia as a crime
One question which always strikes my mind is why euthanasia was made illegal in various countries. The reason which was possibly thought by many countries earlier was that there is no difference between euthanasia and murder. However, there are certain points which make euthanasia and murder different from each other.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN EUTHANASIA AND MURDER
The murder can be defined as an act of killing a person without his consent unlawfully with the wrong motive. However, in the case of euthanasia which is closely related to mercy killing, a person is killed with his consent or with the consent of his legal guardian with the positive intention to relieve him from the permanent illness and suffering and end his life with dignity. Though the process is same in both the acts i.e., a person is killed by another person with any certain object but the major difference which lies between murder and giving euthanasia is the intention of the person. In the case of involuntary euthanasia, some people consider it as a murder because the willful consent of the person is not present in that case and thus it is treated like murder.
After the clear distinction between murder and euthanasia, we need to get deeper to see the difference between euthanasia and suicide as they both vary largely in their meanings.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN EUTHANASIA AND SUICIDE
A number of people commit the mistake of treating euthanasia and suicide as the same thing but there exists the clear distinction between their meanings. According to Merriam Webster, we can define suicide as the act or an instance of taking one’s own life voluntarily and intentionally. Thus, suicide in general can be understood as the ending your life deliberately with self help for several causes like depression, relationship problems, not cracking a job, etc. While considering euthanasia, we can see that it has not been defined by any religion in their book but since it is closely connected with suicide, it can be assumed that it is also prohibited by various religions. In India, the legal system punishes an individual on the premise of intentions. Indian Penal system is based on a very famous maxim “Actus non facit reum nisi men sit rea” which means An act does not make one guilty unless there is a criminal intent. Thus if an individual commits or omits an act without the intention of crime then it is not punishable under the Indian Penal Code.
In the matter of euthanasia, if we make use of above maxim, it can be seen that in this case an individual is himself giving consent to kill her and thus the person killing him cannot be made liable for commission of any offence. Now, the important question which arises in front of us is whether giving consent to kill an individual leaves the culprit from any sort of criminal liability. In case where people answer it in a positive manner then euthanasia does not become an offence. In the case of India, the law here is very lucid in this matter. The person providing euthanasia may assert that the other person gave his consent and thus he is not liable for any offence or the defense of “volenti non fit injuria” can be taken by him.
In India, the Section 87 of the Indian Penal Code talks about consent and without any ambiguity it says that one cannot allege consent as a defense in the situations where it is originated with the motive to kill someone or grievously hurt him. In the very famous case of Maruti Shripati Dubal, the honorable Bombay HC tried to lay down a clear difference between the two concepts of suicide and euthanasia. As stated by the court, when an individual wants to end’s his life by an act done by himself only without the intervention of other people, it is known as suicide whereas in the matter of euthanasia, intrusion of other human is necessary to finish one’s life. Thus one can say that suicide and euthanasia does not come under same periphery. There was another case where the Bombay HC reiterated the same. Therefore we can say that suicide is not similar to mercy killing. These are two different notions with respect to facts and legality.
There is one another term which needs to be distinguished with euthanasia, i.e., assisted suicide. The term “assisted suicide” can be explained as an act of assistance to other person by providing some details, direction and objects to end his life with the soul intention that he will use it for the purpose of euthanasia. We can draw the differentiation between assisted suicide and the term active euthanasia as in the prior case an individual himself take steps to end his own life with the assistance of persons in medical field. But in the case of latter one, the doctor is the one who leads the person to the death. In this situation the act is known as “doctor assisted suicide”. In the case of Gian Kaur vs. State of Punjab, it was unmistakably laid down by the apex court that both assisted suicide and euthanasia are prohibited or illegitimate in the nation. While declaring this decision, the honorable court took the reference of Airedale case in which the House of Lords have agreed with the argument that on the premise of well informed medical belief, the removal of systems which support life of a person is legitimate as this would be allowed to only those patients who are irrecoverable.
Euthanasia and Indian Law
The life of a person is of the prime importance in India. The Article 21 which talks about the right to life in Indian Constitution is the one article which has been interpreted several times by the judges of various courts in different cases. The citizens of the nation have received this right from birth and it cannot be taken away from them. As it was mentioned earlier in the article that right to die does not come under the periphery of Article 21. However, this question for the first time came up in the case of State of Maharashta vs. M.S.Dubal. In this case, the court held that right to die is included in right to life under Article 21. In consequence of this, Section 309 of IPC was removed from the code. The reason that judges gave was that the willingness to end one’s life is not something unnatural, though it is rarely seen. The very decision was also supported in the case of P. Rathiman vs. Union of India. But, this decision was changed later on in the case of Gian Kaur v State of Punjab. In this case, a bench of five judges gave judgment that the right to die does not come under the ambit of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. It was said that a person’s right to live is a natural right whereas right to die comes under the unnatural part of life and thus it can’t come under the ambit of natural rights.
In the 196th report of the Indian Law Commission, this issue was discussed in broad way. One of the important challenge before the aforesaid commission was whether to continue or remove the treatment of the patients who are at last stage. There were various other issues which were dealt by Law Commission such as which patients are proficient, what does informed decision mean, what is best for the patient and most important question that on an omission of an act by the doctor, could the patient or his family members including some close friends can go to a court for its lawfulness and if yes then can this decision be held binding in upcoming proceedings, etc.
In the light of above questions, it was recommended by the Law commission that they should have a law which safeguards patient who are at the last stage of illness denying all the treatment offered including externally provided nutrition and water. It was said that though the family and close ones of the patient would be approached by the doctors but then the ultimate decision is in the hands of doctors to make the best decision with the consultation of other experts in accordance with the guidelines given by the Medical Council of India. However, the physician who is treating the patient is not having the freedom to choose the specialist of his choice. It was the perspective of Law Commission that to reduce the number of grievances regarding the exploitation of the management, it was important to form a bench of experts who are chosen and certified by an acknowledged public authority and approved by the Government of the nation.
Further the commission ordered that a doctor should make the note in which he notes down the denial by the patient to take the treatment, in the matter of (a) victim who is fit or unfit (b) a patient who is fit (made or made not the informed decision), it is the duty of the physician to make a decision regarding the continuance, stop or pause of the treatment and he should mention all these things in his notes along with reasoning behind every decision, and opinions of the specialist and whether he informed the victim or his close ones about the decision which was taken for the patients betterment. In the situation that the decision of the doctor is not supported by the family members, the close ones can approach the honorable court of the respective state and by that time the doctor won’t execute his decision till the final verdict comes from the court.
Aruna Shanbaug vs. Union of India
Now, directly coming to the case of Aruna Shanbaug vs. Union of India, through which passive euthanasia has taken the legitimate root in India. On 7th March, 2011 the apex court of India breaking the norms took the decision of allowing passive euthanasia to the patients who are almost dead or are in the condition of Permanent Vegetative State (PVS). Aruna was a nurse by profession at King Edward Memorial Hospital in Mumbai. During her work, she became the victim of sexual assault and since then she was in vegetative state. After 37 years of this brutal incident i.e. on 24 January 2011, her friend Pinki Virani request was responded by the apex court by forming a panel of medical experts to inspect her. After examination, on the date of 7th March, 2011 the petition of mercy killing was rejected by the court but the passive euthanasia became legal in the country. It was held by the court that still in India, the active euthanasia is unlawful. The instructions were made by the apex court which needs to be followed as law till the Parliament doesn’t make a law with regard to this subject. These instructions were as follow:
- If the mind is made up to discontinue the extra elements which help in lengthening the life a person, then that decision should be taken by the legal guardians or the person’s partner or by any person who is very close to the patient. And the doctor should act in lawful way thinking about the patient.
- The second important point laid down by honorable SC in this case was that the assent of High Court of respective state is obligatory. It cannot be neglected that many family members or close relatives try to get property of the patient and thus they can give their assent in this case. The HC would act as guard and check every aspect of the case.
- A course of action was laid down for the High Court also which need to be followed in such cases. It was said that two judges after taking the advice from a team of three expert medical practitioners will take any decision. Also, the close ones of the patient would also be heard by the court before making the final decision.
Though, Aruna was not granted permission to take the path of euthanasia to die but it opened the way for many others who want to end their life with respect. The Honorable Bench said that the court needs to take the decision while considering the whole humanity and their betterment. After the case of Aruna Shanbaug, the matter of euthanasia came into light again on July 15, 2014 when the Honorable apex court issued regulation with regards to allowing legally the use of passive euthanasia to all the states.
Euthanasia and Laws around the world
As we have talked in previous chapters that euthanasia was not an issue to be discussed only in India but it was a global issue. There were various other countries who debated on whether to legalize the euthanasia or not. Some of the countries are discussed below.
Netherland is the first name which comes in one’s mind while we talk about Euthanasia because it was the first country in Europe which declared the use of euthanasia and assisted suicide legal in the country. On April 2002, Netherland came with the Act named “Termination of Life on Request and Assisted Suicide (Review Procedures) Act” to regulate euthanasia. But this is allowed in very rare and special situations. In the Netherland Penal Code, if a person kills another person with his consent then also he is punishable with three years. The medical practitioners who do the practice of euthanasia on patients are exempted from the prosecution only if they fulfill the conditions mentioned below-
- There is no scope for the improvement in the patient health and the pain is intolerable.
- The patient himself asked for the euthanasia without any influence from others.
- The victim is having complete knowledge of her/his situation and the alternatives.
- There must be the discussion over the same issue with another free doctor to confirm everything.
- The person must be killed in accordance with the proper procedure by the medical practitioner.
- The minimum age required for euthanasia is 12.
- UNITED STATES
United States has declared euthanasia as completely illegal concept there through the cases Washington v. Glucksberg and Vacco v. Quill. However they have allowed doctor assisted suicide in various states through respective acts of that state.
England allows the use of non-voluntary euthanasia when the patient is in a PSV state through the case of Airedale NHS Trust vs. Bland. In this case, the matter was related to the removal of extra elements which support in the extension of life. The court gave judgment that it would be illegal to give any sort of treatment without the consent of the patient who is in active state of mind and is at freedom to deny any sort of treatment whatever be the situation.
However if the situation arises that an individual met some accident and is not able to inform his decision or consent to the doctor then in that case, the medical practitioner can treat the patient in a lawful way. But he can’t give a dose of drug to reduce the pain in humanity which can bring the patient’s life to an end. After this case, various cases followed what was laid in above case and today, this law is confirmed but one question is still left unanswered that who would take the resolution about what is best for the patient in the PVS state. The House of Lords answered this question in different manners with various approaches.
The Swiss Penal Code through the Article 115 talks about that suicide and assisted suicide is not a legally punishable offence only if the motive behind the assisted suicide is not self regarding. There are no prerequisites for this like the interference of doctor or patient in any particular stage, the only essential element is that the motive must not be ego-centric. The person who is not physician can also perform the act of euthanasia as it is legal. But euthanasia is declared illegal in both, Russia and Spain.
Arguments against euthanasia
While talking about euthanasia and seeing laws related to it in various countries, we came to know that in some countries it is legal while in some it is illegal. The question which arises here is that what is the point which made people to diverse their opinion with respect to euthanasia. Therefore in this chapter we will study about the advantages and disadvantages of euthanasia.
Reasons for declaring euthanasia legal
From Lord Ram to Vinoba Bhave’s determination to fast till they die, the sub-continent India has witnessed existence of euthanasia at different period of time. Today also a debate is going on with emphasis more towards active euthanasia than passive. The point of contention is mainly the conflict between the benefit of an individual and the interest of society. Given below are some points regarding the legalization of euthanasia. They are-
- One set of people have opinion that euthanasia should be legalized in the country as the patient is killed with his own consent and their decision should be respected. If we put an individual interest and the interest of society on parallel, the individual interest would weigh more than the other as an individual forms the society. Thus, it is an obligation for the society to guarantee a peaceful life for a person. In case, a person is not able to convey his consent then it can hinder his dignity. In that case we need to look at Article 21 which talks about living our life with dignity. If the dignity of a patient is getting below minimum then it is right to end their life.
- It is argued by the advocates of active euthanasia that like passive euthanasia which is legal in India, an active euthanasia should also be legalized. They say that situations occur for patients when they feel this life as burden on them and want to end it. In this situation it is better to end their life as soon as possible. This will not only let the patient to die with dignity but it will also save the medical facilities of the hospital which they can utilize in saving life of a patient who is recoverable and want to live their life.
- Euthanasia works as an immediate antidote for the terminally ill patients as it saves them from an insufferable pain. Through this they can die with peace without any pain and mental suffering. Thus it supports them than any suffering.
- The advocates of euthanasia give the moral perspective of euthanasia. They argue that it is better for a patient who is going to die with terminal illness along with unbearable suffering to die without any pain and peacefully. They also point towards the suffering of the families of the patient. The families along with patient go through lot of suffering and financial issues. If by ending the life of a person who is terminally ill and eventually going to die, we can save the life of a person who wants to live and is capable for do so, then we should choose to do so.
- By not allowing euthanasia to the patients who want it and letting them to die with all the pain and suffering would lead to cruelty and removal of dignity of a person which is ethically, morally and socially wrong.
Reasons for declaring euthanasia illegal
There are certain countries that haven’t legalized euthanasia. The reason for the same are mentioned below-
- The very first argument states that it is against the ethics of medical practitioners. The role of a doctor and nurse is to cure the patient rather than supporting them to kill themselves. With the advancement in technology and science, there are various ways to save a person. Also, the role of psychology is very important in such cases. Thus if a patient is encouraged to live his life and fulfill their responsibilities they won’t want to kill themselves. Thus, the path of euthanasia should be made illegal.
- Another important contention laid by the supporters is that how a person is going to decide that a patient wants to die or how a patient himself can decide that he should be dead now. Usually, patients who are in such state and give their consent to die are not in a stable mental position as they going through lot of pain and mental sufferings. It is said that consent is accepted only when it is free without any influence which is not found in the present case. The second contention is that how would one decide that a close friend or physician is acting in best for the patient. There can be many selfish motives behind their decision. Thus, legalizing euthanasia would only harm the patient.
- The third argument for the same is given that with the coming time it is possible that government allows the voluntary euthanasia also following the concept of slippery slope. As passive euthanasia is legalized, there may occur a case where judiciary permits active euthanasia also and with time this concept would slide down to permission of all types of euthanasia.
- If the euthanasia is legalized then it would work as one more way for those people who are under huge stress and want to end their life. Thus, it may act as fuel to ends one life.
- The advocates of illegalizing euthanasia also say that it is against the plan of God. We suffer happiness and pain because of our karma and if we legalize euthanasia then it would be reducing the value of a life of a human being.
- If we would legalize euthanasia then the members of vulnerable class would be most found in the list of euthanasia. Thus, it would act as a discouraging source for the people out in global world.
After discussing about both the situations it is difficult to say about the legalization and illegalization of euthanasia. However, it depends on case to case whether it should be given or not.
Euthanasia has emerged as a highly sensitive issue over a decade. Though there were thousands of debate over this topic with the coming cases but still there is not a clear concept regarding the euthanasia. As soon as the debate regarding euthanasia comes up, the various perspectives taking religion, morality and legality as base comes up which makes mercy killing a serious social and legal issue. The main point of contention in this whole debate is whether to save the individual’s right to do whatever he wants to do with his life including right to die or to save his right to life.
Today there is a need of well structured legislation with respect to euthanasia in a world especially India. The laws and regulations should be made with great precaution keeping in mind all the religious, cultural, philosophical, and physical aspects of the country. In my opinion, the passive and active euthanasia should be made legal but under very rare circumstances and with proper investigation of the matter. There are situations where kith and kin and also physicians get greedy for the money and they exploit the life of the patient. To prevent this, we need to keep a strong check over the matter. The Government also needs to be considerate for middle and poor class of people who aren’t able to afford good medical facilities given in private hospitals. In India, the mere legalizing of passive euthanasia won’t be affective until and unless the medical facilities aren’t provided to all the citizens of the nation in an equal way.
We all know about Darwin’s theory which is known as “Survival of the Fittest”. If we apply this theory in the global world, we can witness that only people with good income and financial stability can survive for long on earth with dignity but in the case of people with lot of hardship and struggle and low income, there life is miserable. But as we all know that death is the end of a life which cannot be changed by anybody, it is important that regardless of class, everyone should get the opportunity to die in peace without any suffering.
While we talk about right to die with respect and peace for persons who are unrecoverable and in a vegetative state, we forget that we are looking a coin from one side only. The second side of the coin asks question about those people who want to die due to the pressure of being old and getting removed by the family, not getting proper employment and they also want to die with dignity. If the gate of all types of euthanasia is opened in India, there is high possibility of lakh of petition with regard to the Writ of Mandamus in the honorable apex court.
Thus, I believe that though Article 21 talks about natural right and death is an unnatural concept still it should be given place under Article 21 stating “Right to Die with Dignity”.
INDIAN CASES REFERRED-
- Aruna Shanbaug v. Union of India (2011) 4 SCC 454.
- Gian Kaur v State of Punjab 1996 (2) SCC 648.
- Naresh Marotrao Sakhre v. Union of India 1995 Cri L J 95 (Bomb).
- P. Rathinam vs. Union of India, 1994 AIR 1844.
- State of Maharashtra v. Maruty Sripati Dubal, 1987 Cri. L J 743 (Bomb).
INTERNATIONAL CASES REFERRED-
- Airdale NHS Trust v. Bland, 1993 (1) All ER 821 (HL).
- Vacco vs. Quill, 521 US 793 (1997).
- Washington vs. Glucksberg 521 US 702 (1997).
- Constitution of India, 1950.
- Indian Penal Code, 1872.
- Termination of Life on Request and Assisted Suicide (Review Procedures) Act.
ARTICLES AND SECTIONS REFERRED-
- Article 21 of the Constitution of India.
- Section 306 of the Indian Penal Code.
- Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code.
- Section 87 of the Indian Penal Code.
- M P Jain, Indian Constitutional Law, Lexis Nexis, 8th edition.
- K D Gaur, Indian Penal Code, Lexis Nexis, 7th edition.
- rep196.pdf (lawcommissionofindia.nic.in).
- Suicide | Definition of Suicide by Merriam-Webster (merriam-webster.com).
ARTICLES AND RESEARCH articles REFERRED-
- Does Right to Life include Right to Die by Dignath Raj Sehgal.
- Position of Euthanasia in India- An Analytical Study by Caesar Roy.
- Concept of Euthanasia in India-A Socio-Legal Analysis by Friedrich Nietzsche.
- Right to Die with Dignity: An Analysis of “Common Cause v. Union of India” 2018 by G. K. Goswami and Siddharta Goswami.
- Right to Life with Dignity also includes Right to Die with Dignity: Time to amend Article 21 of Indian Constitution & Law of Euthanasia by Pyali Chatterjee.
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