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A Look Into Right To Die (Euthanasia)


"Euthanasia" is derived from the Greek words "Eu" means good or willing and "Thantos" means death for it literally translates to "The Good Death." The purposely ending a person's life to relieve their grief or suffering .

If defined medically, euthanasia is often referred to as "Mercy killing".It is the act of taking a person's life who has a terminal illness or an incurable condition either by giving a lethal injection or by turning off the patient's life support and allowing them to pass away.

Types of Euthanasia:

  • Active Euthanasia
    refers to a doctor's purposeful action, typically the delivery of a lethal dose to end a patient's life who is suffering from an incurable or terminal illness.
  • Passive Euthanasia
    refers to Withholding or discontinuing life-sustaining care is referred to as passive euthanasia.

Various forms of euthanasia based on consent

Voluntary Euthanasia In which the patient gives his or her permission to end the patient's life

Non-Voluntary Euthanasia:

When there is no hope of recovery´┐Żthat is, when the person who is killed made no request and provided no consent because he is unable to express his wishes while still alive.

Involuntary Euthanasia

when the person who is killed made an express wish not to be killed.

Difference between Suicide and Euthanasia

Suicide is the deliberate self-infliction of harm with the intent to die. It is the voluntarily action in which the main individual participates.

Euthanasia it is the act of killing a person who wishes to die because they have a sickness that cant be cured .A third person actively or passively aids or abets the killing of another person.

Legal Position of Euthanasia in India
In the landmark case Maneka Gandhi v/s Union of India for the interpretation of Article 21 of The Indian Constitution which says Right to Life and Personal Liberty says "No Person shall be deprived of his life or personal Liberty except according to procedure established by law". The term "right to life" refers to the ability to lead a purposeful, full, and respectable life. Every human being is naturally endowed with the right to life.

But the question arises is whether we also have a basic "Right to Die" in addition to the Right to Life (Article 21). The right of a person to be free from all restrictions and encroachments on his person, whether they are directly enforced or subtly brought about by deliberate actions, is known as personal liberty under the Indian constitution. This fundamental right imposes a duty on the state to provide citizens and noncitizens alike with a good standard of living, a means of subsistence, liberty, and a life that is worthy of respect.

Right to Die means a person's to die essentially means that they have the freedom to voluntarily end their lives.

In the case of State of Maharashtra v/s Maruti Sripati Dupal 1987. This case was filed to include "Right to Die " in the Fundamental Rights.. The Indian Penal Code's Section 309 , which dealt with penalty for suicide attempts, was declared unconstitutional by the Bombay High Court. The Bombay High Court held that the Right to Life guaranteed under Article 21 includes Right to Die.

The Supreme Court rendered a similar decision in the case of P Rathinam v. Union of India in 1994, and the Supreme Court's Division Bench upheld Maruti Sripati Dubal's ruling that Article 21's right to life also includes the Right to die. It also ruled that Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code, which addresses "Attempts to Suicide," is unconstitutional.

This issue was raised again before the constitution in the year 1996 in the case Gian Kaur v. State of Punjab, a case in which the 5 judge Constitutional Bench of the Supreme Court overruled P. Ratnam's case and held that the right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution does not include the right to die or the right to be killed and Additionally, it was decided that there is no reason to believe that Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code is unconstitutional.

Aruna Shanbhaug Case
On Nov 27 , 1973, a sweeper sodomised and strangled Aruna and the deprivation of oxygen has left her in a vegetative state ever since . She was maintained alive by a feeding tube for the nxt 40 years of her life. On behalf of Aruna her Activist friend Pinki Virani filed a petition claimed "Continued existence of Aruna violates her Right to Live in Dignity". The Supreme Court discussed Euthanasia extensively and approved "Passive Euthanasia", despite the fact that it did not let Ms.Shanbaug's medical treatment to be discontinued.

Invoking the "Parens Patriae" principle , which means "Parent of the Nation" where the court can intervene and act as a guardian, it was concluded that HC is the final Arbiter of what is best for the patient.

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