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Right To Die: All You Need To Know On This

"We all die. The goal isn't to live forever, the goal is to create something that will" - chuck Palahniuk

The right to die has always been a debatable topic in India and around the world, as the issue and belief in death and its types differ by religion also. Article 21 of the Indian constitution says "no person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except the process established by law". My purpose in writing this article is to cover as many areas of this issue as possible. I will try to provide as much as information on the concerned issue.

In general, way right to die means the right to end one's own life. This can be done through suicide or euthanasia. When a person ends his own life it is called death by "suicide" but to end the life of a person by others though at the request of others is called "euthanasia". Euthanasia is mainly associated with terminally ill patients or person who is seriously handicapped and should have the right to choose to live or die. Euthanasia is a debatable topic as it encompasses the morals, beliefs, and values of our society.

History Of The Right To Die;

'Euthanasia' is derived from a Greek word that means 'dying well' or 'good death'. The concept t of the right to die is not new to the global world. History has seen it in the times of the roman and Greeks when people help another person to die easily or put them to death when needed. For example, in the city of Greek if a child takes birth with a disability he/she was killed. In various holy books like the bible , the Koran, and the Vedas there are mentions of suicide or self-annihilation.

When we talk about India, we can see various examples from the Vedic ages where people applied their right to die based on their religious beliefs. In Hindus there are two perspectives on this issue, According to the first perspective, the doctor who withdraws the life-supporting system of a patient even on their wishes should not accept their request as it leads to the death of the person which according to them is the unnatural death of the person.

Another set of people believes that the practice of euthanasia is against the principle of ahimsa therefore it should be avoided. However, there is a third set of people also who consider euthanasia a good practice as they believe that ending someone's life who is in pain is an act of good deed. These three types of set of people belong to the Hindus.

Muslims, do not consider euthanasia a good practice as they believe that a person's life is a gift from their god Allah. Therefore only Allah has the authority to take it and no human can do his work.

The same is believed by Christians, they also believe that the cycle of birth and death is decided by god Jesus and to disturb it will destroy the balance of nature's law set by god.

In Sikh people, their view on euthanasia and suicide is according to their holy book Guru Granth Sahib. They also believe that the life of a person is by the will of god and they believe that doing this will obstruct the process of god.

Distinction Between Euthanasia And Murder;

Murder can be defined as killing a person without his consent illegally, while euthanasia refers to killing a person but with his or his family and guardians' consent by legal methods, generally by the doctors. Some of you will think there is no difference.

No you are wrong there is a difference as Indian law is very much focused on the consent of the person,e murder does involve the consent of the person while euthanasia involves the consent of the person.

After a deeper understanding of euthanasia, we need to go into detail about the difference between euthanasia and suicide as people often confuse the two.

Distinction Between Euthanasia And Suicide;

Many people confuse between the meaning of suicide and euthanasia as they say in both instances the person takes his own life without anyone's intervention. According to the literal meaning, suicide means taking one's life by oneself voluntarily and intentionally. While there is no definition of euthanasia in the religious books but as it matches with suicide they are against the concept. Suicide in general is done by people due to depression, relationship problems, studies, etc.

In Indian law a major punishment is decided by the intention of the person, According to the maxim "Actus non facit reum nisi men sit rea" According to the maxim only the act which involves criminal intentions behind them will be held liable. Thus if an individual commits an act without criminal intention according to Indian law it does not consider a crime.

The law relating to consent contained in the Indian penal code is very exhaustive and leaves no reasonable doubt about its meaning of it. Section 87 of the IPC lays down that consent cannot be taken as a defense if it is for death or grievous hurt. The Bombay high court in the case of MARUTI SHRIPATI DUBAL has attempted to make a distinction between suicide and euthanasia\mercy killing.

The court said that suicide includes the killing of oneself voluntarily and intentionally without any other human intervention. While mercy killing\euthansia involves the killing of humans but with the intervention of other human agencies with the consent of the person and with legal means. Mercy killing thus does not similar to suicide as both concepts are factually and legally different.

Our Supreme court of India GIAN KAUR V. STATE OF PUNJAB, clearly held that assisted suicide is not lawful in the country. The court however referred to the principles laid down by the house of lords in Airedale, the house of lords said that withdrawing the life support system of a person with proper consent and informed decision by the medical staff is not any sort of offense as it only relief a person who is in such a state where there is no possible way of recover back.

Types Of Euthanasia:

  1. Active euthanasia
  2. Passive euthanasia
  3. Voluntary euthanasia
  4. Involuntary euthanasia
  5. Non-voluntary euthanasia


It is the type in which a person is set to death by the doctor through a painless procedure like giving a lethal dose to directly put the affected person to a merciful death. This type of euthanasia is very common as it involves no pain and a long procedure a medical expert diagnoses the person with a dose and gives him\her a painless and relieved death


Euthanasia is passive when doctors directly do not kill the person but indirectly cause the path of death. In this, the doctors withdrew the life-supporting system or whatever machines and equipment which are keeping the person alive. In this, the doctor does not kill directly but simply does not save the patient, the time of withdrawing the life-supportive equipment is decided by the doctors according to the seriousness of the patient.


Is euthanasia which is done by the voluntary consent of the patient or the person who is terminally ill and has no other means to survive except a merciful death, so the person by his willful consent chooses voluntary euthanasia to give him merciful death which is both in his and his loved ones interest.


Euthanasia in which the person is killed without his consent or in other words against his consent is known as involuntary euthanasia. In this, a terminally ill person is killed without asking what is his will or what he choose for himself. This type of euthanasia is a form of murder.


It means ending a life of a person without his will because he is not in a proper mental state to give his active consent. In such cases, consent is generally given by the family members of the concerned patient. This occurs when the person does not anticipate happening of such an unforeseen event.

Aruna Shanbaug V. Union Of India

Recently the Supreme court in 'ARUNA RAMCHANDRAN SHANBAUG V. UNION OF INDIA' has laid guidelines for legalizing passive euthanasia. In this case, a petition was filed on the behalf of Aruna Shanbaug who is in a persistent vegetative state [ P.V.S] and virtually a dead person who has nothing left a way to survive rather than a merciful death by the consent of his family members and the doctors.

The court set up a medical committee for the same and at last, they rule on the side of Aruna Ramachandran and said that passive euthanasia is legal in India while active euthanasia is against the law. The court permitted passive euthanasia as per the law in exceptional circumstances and also under the proper supervision of the cal experts. The court also said to decriminalize attempts of suicide by erasing the punishment provided under the Indian penal code.

The court has issued certain guidelines until the parliament comes up with certain concrete laws for the same.
  1. A decision to withdraw the life-supporting system is to be given by the family members, spouse, and blood relative of the person. In case the absence of such the decision can also be taken by the person acting as a next friend. The condition is only that the decision is taken in a bona fide manner and not by any ill will by the relatives or anyone.
  2. Even if the decision is taken by a family member, spouse, or next friend to withdraw from the life-supporting system, the decision will require the permission of the high court as the court felt the need due to rising ill will decisions by the relatives due to many reasons like property inheritance, etc.

Why Euthanasia Is To Be Legal?

From lord Rama to Mahatma Gandhi and to Vinoba Bhave our country has seen determination to fast till death. This concept is also a part of euthanasia as it involves a person's free will to end his life. Here are some of my learned points from the research to answer why euthanasia is to be legal.
  1. As we go according to the opinion of particular people they believe that an individual is a very important part of a society as if there is none of them the society cant even exist, according to them the interest of individuals in comparison to the society's interest should be more prioritize and he shall be given a legal right for euthanasia.
  2. According to article 21 of the Indian constitution which gives every citizen of India the right to live and die with dignity, A person who is in a total vegetative state and can't even move his finger on his own is keeping alive unnecessarily will be against the fundamental rights of the person.
  3. Some people say that along with passive euthanasia, active euthanasia should also be made legal, as the person has a right to die with dignity and should be given authority over it. This will help the patient who is not properly alive to die with dignity and with mercy and also the hospital to not waste its resources on someone having no chance to recover to someone willing to live his life.
  4. By not allowing a person who is in pain and suffering to die in peace and rather keeping him alive will only going to increase his suffering. This type of treatment is socially, morally, and ethically totally against the freedom of the individual and their right to die with dignity.
  5. Another view is that to keep a person in such a state alive will not only lead him to suffer but also cause suffering to his family both mentally, emotionally, and financially. So to avoid all this distress the person should be provided with a mercy death by doctors to avoid all the trouble for him and his family.

Why Is Euthanasia's Illegal?

Some nations do not legalize euthanasia, here are some of the arguments against the legalization of euthanasia.
  1. Firstly, they say that the concept of euthanasia is completely against the profession of the medical staff as per their oath at the time of the appointment which says every doctor and nurse must treat and try their best to save a patient in any condition whenever they get the opportunity to do so, and killing an alive person is totally against their role as a medical expert.
  2. Legalizing euthanasia will give a free hand to all the person who is under a temporary strand is also to get rid of their life, generally, people who are in stress and depressed which is a very common problem in the young generation, do not even think twice before taking this action. This will not only create chaos but also destroy the younger minds of the nation which is the most valuable asset.
  3. How can a person who is not even in his proper mental position or a doctor who does not even know the person decides whether he should die or not? A person who is in suffering at first just wants to get rid of his life, he is the worst one to decide for him at that time. Legalizing euthanasia will act as fuel to the fire in such a situation.
After reading both the arguments for me it is not rational to comment that euthanasia should be legal or not. Let us wait for our government to consider this issue and the parliament if they bring a law for the same.

Euthanasia is a very debatable issue, there is no single view on the issue. Every individual has their view on this. The topic is complicated as it is having many aspects, at one side it is moral for a person who is in a vegetative state to die peacefully while on the other hand, it can be misused if allowed freely by making it legal.

There is a strong need for the government, The parliament, and the judiciary to consider this issue, especially for a country like India we need a proper and concrete law on euthanasia, as a person's life and its influence on society cannot be ignored.

If we talk about Darwin's theory of survival of the fittest which says only the best people in a particular environment will survive and will have next generation. In today's unequal world only, money makes you the fittest and the lower section lives a miserable life, Euthanasia can be a way to free them from such a miserable way of life.

So according to me the right to die with dignity and the right to live is a very important fundamental right of an individual and therefore should be given the e importance.

Written By: Aryan Trivedi, Law Student

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