When confronted with two alternatives, life and death, one is to choose death,
without hesitation.-Yamamoto Tsunetomo.
These were only lines to me till the day I saw my Grandmother suffering from her
illness. She was bed ridden for a month She often asked me to end her suffering,
She wanted to go but we both were helpless. After she left for heavenly abode I
usually brood over the time I saw her being suffered, the time when she wanted
to let her soul free from the pain. Then one day I came across the word
What is Euthanasia?
Euthanasia; this word has its origin in 1640s. It means ‘a gentle and easy
death.’ It is made from the Greek words ‘eu’ i.e. good and ‘thanatos’ i.e. death
and abstract noun ending ‘-ia.’’ Legally sanctioned mercy killing’ is recorded
in English by 1869.
There are two kinds of Euthanasia:-Passive Euthanasia
Passive Euthanasia occurs when the patient dies because the medical
professionals either don’t do something necessary to keep the patient alive or
when they stop doing something that is keeping the patient alive.
Active Euthanasia occurs when the medical professionals or any other person
knowingly do something which causes the patient to die.
Religious views on Euthanasia
As there are different perspectives of individuals on Euthanasia there are
different perspectives of each religion.
There are many views among Buddhists on it. An important value of Buddhism
teaching is compassion. Compassion is used by some Buddhists as a justification
for Euthanasia because the person suffering is relieved of pain.
Catholic teachings condemns Euthanasia as ‘crime against life’ and a ‘crime
Protestant denominations vary on their approach to Euthanasia. They are liberal
than Roman Catholic Church though.
There are two hindu points of view on Euthanasia. By helping to end a painful
life a person is performing a good deed and so fulfilling their moral
obligations. The other view is, by helping to end a life, even one filled with
suffering, a person is disturbing the timing of the cycle of death and rebirth.
However, It is mentioned in ‘The Mahabharata’ about the ‘Ichchha Mrityu’ gift
given to ‘Bhishma Pitamah’ which can be considered as Euthanasia.
So, It has always been a debating issue among the Religions.
Hippocratic Oath on EuthanasiaPrimium non nocere.
First do not harm.
Hippocrates; the father of the Modern Medical Science came up with this Oath in
the fifth century B.C. in ancient Greece.
The Oath is now rarely taken by the doctors and if taken, not in its original
form. Although, The Oath also directs physicians, to ‘help the sick’. A modern
interpretation of the oath might be considered: Do what is right for the
patient. So, the Hippocratic Oath is itself in dilemma.
As per the Indian Constitution
According to article 21 of the Indian Constitution ‘No person shall be deprived
of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by
Meaning of Right to Life here is defined through some cases:-
Munn v. Illinois
Justice Field said By the term life as here used meant something more than
mere animal existence. The inhibition against its deprivation extends to all
those limbs aand faculties by which life is enjoyed. The provision equally
prohibits the mutilation of the body by the amputation of an arm or leg..
Samatha v. State of Andhra Pradesh
Supreme Court declared that ‘life’ in article 21 is not merely the physical act
Khadak Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh
By the term ‘life’
as here used is meant something more than mere animal
existence. The inhibition against its deprivation extends to all those limbs and
faculties by which life is enjoyed.
Sunil Batra v. Delhi Administration
The Supreme Court restate that ‘right to life’ included the right to lead a
healthy life so as to enjoy all faculties of the human body in their prime
So, overall these cases state that Life is:-
Not mere animal existence. Healthy with all the faculties of human body.
Cases regarding Right to DieMaruti Shi Pati Dubal v. State of Maharashtra
Supreme Court held that section 309 of Indian Penal Code as violative of
Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India.
[Section 309 of IPC which punishes the person convicted of attempting to commit
Gian Kaur v. State of Punjab
In this case Supreme Court held that ‘Right to Life’ does not include ‘Right
’. This decision overruled the holding in case of Maruti Shi Pati
Dubal v. State of Maharshtra. It was held in this case that both Euthanasia and
assisted suicide were not lawfully valid in India.
P. Rathinam v. Union of India
In this case Supreme court held that ‘ Right to Die’ is a right enshrined under
Article 21 of the Constitution and hence Section 309 of IPC was
Aruna Ramchandra Shanbaug v. Union of India
This case changed the Euthanasia laws in India. It was held in its judgement by
Markandey Katju J. Marte hain arzoo mein marne ki maut aati hai par nahin
- Mirza Ghalib.
Aruna Shanbaug was in permanent vegetative state for nearly 42 years after a
ward boy sexually assaulted her in 1973.
A plea was filed by journalist Pinky Virani for Euthanasia to Shanbaug.
Though Shanbaug was not granted Euthanasia and she died due to malaria but her
case gave different parameters to Euthanasia in our country. Supreme Court gave
recognition to passive Euthanasia and stated that a person must be given the
‘right to die with dignity’.
Active Euthanasia is still not valid in India
Position of Euthanasia in other Countries
- Netherlands is the first country to permit Euthanasia.
- In United States of America active Euthanasia is prohibited but passive
Euthanasia is permitted.
- Canada permits passive Euthanasia but does not permit the active.
- In Belgium Euthanasia was made legal in 2002.
It is a debatable issue whether a person should be given right to die or not,
from religions to medical science to laws and nations, the views are clashing.
I stand firm on the title of my article, ‘I choose to end the suffering’,
Euthanasia gives the person the right to die with dignity which is the concept
of article 21 of our Constitution, and the threat of misusing it can be overcome
by putting reasonable restrictions on its applicability as every other law in
India has. As per my opinion Euthanasia is morally and legally justified as
personal liberty involves ending of life with dignity.
- The Constitution of India by P.M. Bakshi