"Dying can be a peaceful event or a great agony when it is inappropriately
sustained by life support." - Roger Bone.
Each individual wants to lead his or her life to the fullest degree possible and
for a lengthy period of time. However, in certain cases, the relatively similar
individual chooses to take his own life. If an individual decides to terminate
his or her own life, he or she has two options - suicide or euthanasia. While
the first is prohibited in India, the second is a fiercely disputed subject.
Physicians are increasingly concerned about compassionate care and services
concerns in patients with incurable illnesses such as advanced cancer or even
AIDS. Euthanasia or mercy killing of chronically sick individuals has also
emerged as a hot-button subject. Advocates of physician-assisted suicide (PAS)
argue in favor of a person's right to die without suffering.
Critics assert that
a physician's participation in a patient's death is a violation of the medical
profession's basic precept. In addition, the likelihood of undetected depression
& societal 'coercion' in those who request euthanasia raises other ethical
questions. As a result of these issues, the PAS implementation process now has
tight requirements. Psychiatrists play a vital role in assessing the mental
health of those who agree to undergo PAS. There are many proponents for the
practice of palliative care in our nation, including non-profit groups like the
dying with dignity initiative.
When translated, euthanasia implies merciful death, since the Greek words for eu
and Thanatos (death) are combined. Lawfully & medically, mercy killing
is classified as 'the conduct of aborting or eliminating the person's life whose
suffering out of an irreparable condition or circumstance that is exceptionally
agonizing. In general language, euthanasia denotes purposeful execution by an
action/omission of anyone whose existence is considered is not being honorable.
Merriam-Webster defines it as:
The deed or practice of murdering or allowing
to be killed irredeemably unwell or damaged persons for the sake of humanity.
Another term for it is mercy killing. Victims are put to death in accordance
with this practice if they or anyone on their account accepts dying for
themselves, generally due to their health circumstances. Because of the victim's
terminal sickness and unbearable agony and torment, it is performed solely to
finally put a conclusion to his or her life.
Types Of Euthanasia:
- Physician-Assisted Suicide (PAS):
Assisted suicide occurs if a physician purposefully offers a patient
medicinal help in order to end their life because of their extreme pain and
grief. Victims' health conditions are thoroughly examined by the physician
before he or she decides on an appropriate method of dying
- Voluntary Euthanasia:
Assisted suicide occurs while an individual
(patient) decides to take his or her own life using the help of someone else.
The notion and technique implemented must be fully agreed upon, consented to as
well as understanding.
- Non-Voluntary Euthanasia:
An individual's (patient's) lifetime is
terminated by somebody else's will, perhaps with a close relative or a spouse.
- Active Euthanasia:
The physician has the authority to terminate a
person's life at any time. The physician may recommend a hassle-free method of
terminating a human's life straight to the patient. Death via fatal injection or
medication overdose is rapid than consuming a deadly amount of the substance.
Approval is by far the main crucial consideration.
- Passive Euthanasia:
Through restricting or denying vital treatment
(such as a ventilator), nourishment or drink, it is characterized as
purposefully triggering the killing of a patient. In this case, the patient's
mechanical intensive care equipment is also removed as part of the procedure.
It's only utilized if the subject has lost all mental and physical faculties. In
cases of brain death, passive euthanasia is often the very common form of
There are certain types of euthanasia coined by the Senate Selection of Bills
The aforementioned are included:
- Active Voluntary Euthanasia:
If a patient requests the use of clinical
assistance to bring a conclusion to their lifetime.
- Passive Voluntary Euthanasia:
In the event that a patient's healthcare
is discontinued or held at the patient's desire to die.
- Passive in non - voluntary Euthanasia:
In the means to bring a halt to
the patient's suffering, medical treatment and intensive care may be ignored or
withdrawn against their permission.
- Active in non - voluntary Euthanasia:
When one patient's life is ended
by therapeutic assistance with no patient's permission.
Suicide v/s Euthanasia:
Suicide & euthanasia are conceptually separate. Whether by injuring,
intoxication or just about any method, a guy commits suicide. There is zero
question that suicide is a deliberate act on the part of the person who commits
it. When someone commits suicide, they usually do this because they are
depressed or because they are unhappy with their life for any number of
circumstances (as with a bad relationship or a lack of success in life or most
of the time financial related issues).
Euthanasia, from the other side, involves another individual taking measures to
stop the existence of another individual. A 3rd Party is either directly or
indirectly engaged in euthanasia, i.e., he assists or authorizes the death of
another individual. Within that perspective, it's also worth noting that
are not interchangeable terms. In order
to perform assisted suicide, one provides another person the tools to end his or
Doctor Aided Suicide
to a therapist's role in assisting a victim's death by prescribing fatal drugs.
Such that, in assisted suicide, the victim is the one who actually commits
suicide, and so has an entire choice over how and when the process ends. Another
individual is just there to assist. Euthanasia, but on the other side, can be
passive or active, as in the case of a physician administering a deadly dosage
or terminating a person's life-sustaining mechanism.
History Of Euthanasia
When we go back in time, euthanasia had not permeated this many sectors. Suicide
& assisted suicide were common practices in ancient Greece and Rome, and there
was no cultural stigma associated with them. Until that point in time, the
clinical field had not developed to its current level of sophistication and had
not been considered a dignified calling.
Furthermore, the current campaigning
for this issue is grounded on the historical Grecian as well as Latin
scriptures' notions of liberty & personal freedom.
The theological teachings of Christianity & Judaism throughout the Common Period
provided the very first major obstacle to euthanasia practice. Christianity
believes that human life is a present from the Divine and one should embrace it
to the fullest extent possible.
Euthanasia is indeed opposed by Muslims, which believe that lives
are holy and only Allah may determine how much a person should live.
Srutis, Smritis, Vedic, Upanishads, Puranas, Bhagavad Gita, Mahabharata,
& Ramayana as well as various religious and ethical works of Indians will have
to be respected from birth to demise by the masses. The teachings of Hinduism
appeared to advocate self-destruction & conscience. Self-liberation may be
achieved also in the face of a deadly sickness, according to Manusmriti.
Dharma, Arth, Karma, & Moksha are the four major concepts of Hinduism. It is the
4th and last conviction, Moksha, that brings a conclusion to every misery as
well as the loop of demise & resurrection that follows:
first 3 beliefs aid in
achieving this desired outcome; and that it's the ultimate faith, Moksha, that
brings an ending to the sequence of birth & death that follows (reincarnation).
Reincarnation is highly held in Hinduism and dying is merely seen as the spirit
discarding its older self to get a fresh body. As a result, according to Hindu
teachings, it is perfectly acceptable to end one's personal life under specific
conditions. Surayu River is reputed to have been where Lord Rama & his sibling
Lakshmana were said to have taken Jal Samadhi. Moreover, Satguru Sivaya
Subramuniyaswami took up the practice of Prayopavesa, or abstinence till death,
in Nov of that year (back in 2001).
Enlightenment under Hinduism is permitted,
but it must be accomplished at a specific time. If an individual is severely
disabled with no hope of a cure, religious books, the Vedas, and so forth
indicate that he or she might attain release from the cycle of samsara by
Certain Indian faiths, such as Jainism & Buddhism, also allow various forms of
euthanasia. When Jainism arose about the 6th century BC, it included a belief in
reincarnation & ultimate freedom as well During the 5th century BC, Buddhism,
founded on the principles of Gautama Buddha, taught the doctrine of samsara (the
cyclical nature of life & death) and thus the final purpose of life, escape from
Euthanasia In India
Passive Euthanasia: Legal
Active Euthanasia: Illegal
Physician-Assisted Suicide: Illegal
When it comes to rituals & practices, Indians take them extremely seriously and
adhere to them with a strong sense of devotion. There are many faiths in our
country, however, euthanasia isn't one of those Therefore, implementing a policy
that might offend the sacred sensibilities of the large percentage of these
faiths shouldn't be an attractive concept.
Through the Indian portion of civilization that likes hoaxes, legalizing
euthanasia might be abused to its full extent.
Taking away medication or life-supporting equipment was made permissible by the
Apex Court on March 7, 2011, in the landmark Judgment of Aruna Ramchandra
Shaunbag v. Union of India. In the very same judgment, the prohibition of
active euthanasia was reassured. As long as Assembly does not establish a bill
in this area, the Judge's order is the supreme law.
Aruna Shanbaug, a nurse who had been suffocated and brutally molested in 1973,
has been the subject of the Ruling of the supreme court of India. Shanbaug was
paralyzed after the incident. "Long term survival of Aruna is in infringement of
her freedom to live in dignity", Pinki Virani said in her lawsuit against
Shanbaug's life backing, which Shanbaug's colleague lodged. The institution
where Shanbaug was being treated had not complied to turn off her medical
Passive euthanasia was ruled legal by the Supreme Court, which supported health
care workers. Even just a parent, a partner, a direct family member, or a best friend
(in the absence of family members) might stop a
life-sustaining medication, according to the Justice. The medical personnel, not Virani, according to the Law, was the
"next acquaintance" in line to take the
call. Aruna Shanbaug, who had been in a slumber for 42 yrs., perished to
pneumonia on May 18, 2015.
The scenario was different in the past, because even when passive euthanasia was
illegal in India. Exception 5 of S.300 of IPC applies to physicians who induce
euthanasia because they have the required purpose
to induce patient's death
affected; in instances of voluntary euthanasia, as there is a reviewed and
accepted, the said physician, or other such individual resulting euthanasia,
would've been punished for culpable homicide not amounting to murder u/s. 304 of
There are certain exceptions, such as in circumstances of assisted dying, in
which an 18-year-old victim provides his or her permission to a doctor's
decision to end his or her life. Involuntary & involuntary euthanasia isn't
included because of the 1st proviso of S.92 of IPC, which prohibits such
practices. In India, it is a criminal to actively end someone's life through
Everyone in India is guaranteed this privilege under Art.21 of the
provision of the constitution. If the freedom to live also involves the choice
the citizens of the nation started to wonder. This sparked a huge
discussion on the notion as well as its applicability in India. Human liberties,
as well as the constitutionality of specific provisions, were at the center of
the 2 situations M.S. Dubal v. the State of Maharashtra
Jagadeeswar v. state of Andhra Pradesh
(1987). On the Liberty of Life
encompasses the Choice to End
issue, the two instances are at odds.
On both the good and bad sides of the liberties offered to the citizens, the
disagreement occurred in M.S. Dubal v. State of Maharashtra (1986). At issue was
whether or whether a person's liberty to life also includes the freedom to not
"People who commit suicide because of psychological syndromes need psychological
therapy, not jail bars wherein the status is sure to deteriorate, resulting to
further psychological instability," the judge said. Nursing facilities rather
than jails should be used to deter all who try suicide because of severe medical
symptoms, terminal illnesses, trauma, or the deteriorated physiological state
created by older aging or disability.
The trial statement on the freedom to live in dignity would be as observes:
This phrase life
is utilized to refer to anything deeper beyond the sheer
presence of animals. The resistance to its loss spreads to every one of life's
boundaries & capacities. "By the word privilege, more than just simple
independence against physical intervention or jail ties is intended," the law
reads. "By the phrase, disability, such as in this clause more than just simple
free from physical intervention or jail bonds is implied."
However, in the other instance, the High Court of Andhra Pradesh ruled that
Section 309 of the IPC, which criminalizes the conduct of suicide, is
Cases like P. Rathinam vs Union of India
(1994), which authorized assisted
suicide, sparked this argument more. In Gian Kaur v. State of Punjab
it became determined that Article 21 cannot contain the liberty to die or be
executed, which was subsequently disputed.
Justice J.S. Verma presided over the 5 - Judge panel that overturned Section 309
of the IPC, 1860 in Gian Kaur v. the State of Punjab
. The ruling held that A.21
of the Constitution of India only recognizes a person's right to life and
nothing else, including a person's right to die. Due to such a judgment,
assisted suicide & passive euthanasia was deemed illegal.
On many forums, people were debating this issue, and soon the Supreme Court with
its 5 - Judge bench noted that euthanasia is relevant and that a person's right
to life might be defined as their right to a dignified life as well as value. As
a result of this long-awaited decision, the discussion for the legalization of
passive euthanasia has penetrated our culture, but mostly in cases when the
patient is critically unhealthy and medical life treatment has been removed from
The Law Commission made several suggestions in its findings as a result of
historic instances like these.
A famous issue concerning euthanasia, Common Cause v. Union of India
and Ors., ruled that the freedom to die with dignity
is an inalienable human
privilege, and the Apex Court agreed. Mentally stable adults could reject or
choose not to accept healthcare services if they are mentally sound. It is
possible that he will choose to die a slow death rather than seek therapy.
While examining Manu's code and legal commentary, it was noted in the 42nd
Report that suicide should be accepted as a legitimate option for those who are
sick or otherwise miserable in their lives. According to Vedic writings, those
who leave earthly desires and give up their self-centeredness are those who will
attain redemption. It was of the opinion that suicide's statutory prohibitions
were oppressive and unjustified.
In 1997, its 156th Law Commission's report affirmed the legality of
criminalizing suicide and credited medical research and the law for their role
in the process. Moreover, it bolstered the claim that widespread social ills
including drug smuggling, violence, and many who tried suicide as a result of
such occurrences were backed by the verdict in Gian Kaur, as was the legality of
that section's Penal Code.
When the Law Commission issued its 210th report in 2008, it suggested that
Section 309 of the IPC, which punishes those who self-harm, be repealed. IPC
modifications were also presented.
The former statute was repealed and the Attempt to Suicide
decriminalized under the new Mental Healthcare Act, which was signed into law in
2017. According to Section 115 of the Act. S.309 of the Indian Penal Code does
not apply to those who attempt to take their own lives; thus, they will not be
prosecuted or penalized within this Law. The state has a responsibility to offer
therapy and support to an individual to lessen the likelihood of another suicidality.
As long as the physician doesn't really induce the patient's death,
passive euthanasia is legal, as long as the physician doesn't really halt the
patient's therapy or disable the patient's life-support apparatus. Indian courts
acknowledge active euthanasia
in which fatal or overdosed medication is
administered to the sufferer and injected into the system, as an acceptable form
of euthanasia, at least for the time being.
It is the opinion of the law that a physician could not be penalized for failing
to save a patient. When one considers the definition of act
, one must
remember that an act
comprises not just appropriate behaviors by a
criminal, but it also any and all exclusions
of the statutory responsibility that one must
carry out in accordance with the law. If someone fails to carry out a
constitutional responsibility that is owed to them by statute, then they must be
penalized for it.
Euthanasia In Other Countries
According to the People's Republic of China's Criminal Justice system,
euthanasia & physician-assisted suicide are both illegal under A.232 & A.233 of
As per A.232:
That whoever purposefully intended to commit murder will be given the death
penalty, life sentences, or rectified confinement about not just under ten yrs.
if the situations are comparatively small, he will be sentenced to set
detainment of not below 3 years but not that much than ten years.
As per A.233, "Unless the grounds are insignificant, the penalty can be neither
over than 3 years set detention, other than what is explicitly established in
"Although a number of National People's Congress (NPC) lawmakers suggested
euthanasia measures in March of 1994, they also weren't enacted. It was in March
2007 when a lady with neuromuscular disorders made her request for euthanasia
laws aired live on TV at the time of NPC's annual meeting."
This On Health Care of Russian Citizens
law, enacted in 1993,
explicitly prohibits euthanasia.
Assisted suicide & euthanasia are illegal in Canada; however, sufferers
could decline life-sustaining care. Canadian Supreme Court in Rodriguez v.
Attorney,1994 General of British Columbia stated that the public's interest
would triumph above the individual stand in the situation of voluntary
Passive euthanasia is separate from active euthanasia. Clients may ask that
doctors suspend or remove life-sustaining care from them, however, surgeons are
still not considered accountable if they're on their own or on behalf of the
patient's legal agent. By virtue of the Supreme Court decisions in Vacco v.
and Washington v. Glucksberg
, it is now unlawful in the USA to
end the life of an individual.' 'Oregon, a jurisdiction in the United States, became the
first jurisdiction to authorize physician-assisted suicide in 1994 when it
passed the Death & Dignity Act. Assisted suicide became allowed in California in
April 2005, making it the second jurisdiction to do so.
'Given terms of the autonomous & conscience privileges, Lords, an individual
has the power to withhold life-sustaining therapy. Non-voluntary euthanasia for
people in a chronic paraplegic condition was also allowed by the British
parliament. In addition, a British High Court recently awarded the choice to end
by turning off a patient's life-supporting mechanism to a lady who was paralyzed
mostly from the neckline down.'
However, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in the UK
proposed a solution to the Nuffield Council on Bioethics on November 5, 2006,
asking for a review of allowing the euthanasia of handicapped newborns.
French Parliament enacted a bill on January 27, 2016, allowing
physicians to anesthetize fatally sick people till they die of their sickness or
famine. As a resolution, French President Francois Hollande advocated for the
creation of the bill.
Physician-assisted suicide conducted on a case by case basis from our
humanitarian motivations" became allowed in Germany on November 6, 2015.
"Suicide business", or commercialized euthanasia, are both prohibited terms.
Before the 2015 act, physicians could administer lethal amounts of painkillers
to hasten to die. After a Supreme Court ruling on 26.02.2020, sufferers would be
able to obtain expert assistance in ending their lives.
Physician-assisted suicide & active euthanasia is prohibited under both
Israeli as well as Jewish law. Jewish law prohibits "Passive Euthanasia",
however, the Tel Aviv District Court on December 9, 2014, ruled in favor of
allowing it. Passive euthanasia has been proposed in Senate, but then other "Physician Aided" or
"Sabbath clock" legislation has yet to be enacted.
Arguments For Euthanasia
- The term Euthanasia refers to the act of putting an end to the
life of someone who is struggling from a fatal condition and whose quality
of existence has become so wretched that it is not good enough to justify
continuing. However, the issue is how to determine when one's existence is
still fit to live or otherwise. As a result, the phrase "Euthanasia" has a
great deal of connotation. The question of if euthanasia must be legal has
indeed been debated for a great period.
There is currently more discussion about active euthanasia over passive.
Disagreement abounds over the fact that the objectives of social & personal
are in direct opposition to one another. Whether any of these options must
be prioritized? 'Euthanasia proponents argue that patients' wishes must be
respected. Weighing societal ideals against personal interests, however,
reveals that the interests of individuals triumph over those of the
Instead of focusing on the interests of persons, civilization is built to
ensure that everyone has a respectable & pleasant existence. Obviously, the
best interests of the person in excruciating agony can be compromised if he
or she is unable to make an informed decision. If such is the scenario, this
should constitute a denial of his basic humanity as well as his entitlement
- A person's unbearable torment can be alleviated by euthanasia. It
alleviates the suffering of those who are nearing the end of their lives.
- Forcing someone to reside in an inconvenient manner goes over their will
and goes even against the core of human life. As a result, it conveys an
individual's essential decision.
- It is apparent that A. 21 of the Constitution of India guarantees the
right to a dignified existence. Life must be lived that have at most some
respect, and those who drop beyond that threshold must be allowed to
terminate their lives. The advocates of euthanasia further argue out that
since passive euthanasia is already legalized, and thus must active
euthanasia. Unless an affected person is in excruciating misery would he
decide to terminate his life, since he prefers a peaceful death to a daily
existence of torment & misery? In this scenario, allowing the terminally ill
patient peacefully is a preferable option out of a moral standpoint as he or
she already understands that he or she will end up dying from that
- Its goal is to help individuals that are struggling from terrible and
severe illnesses by placing them out of their misery in a peaceful manner.
As a result, the goal here is to provide assistance instead of doing damage.
- For both the sufferer and his or her loved ones, it eases both their
physical and emotional anguish.
- It is a common criticism of proponents of euthanasia that severely
disabled persons may abuse the choice to end if it is given. Because all
privilege has a chance of misuse, the proponents say it's wrong to deny it
to those who deserve it. It's better to focus on the positive aspects
themselves than the negative ones.
- In India, trafficking organs is not a new phenomenon. Following non -
voluntary euthanasia, physicians may be eagerly expecting the protracted
victims to pass, so they get some funds by illegally committing such crimes.
- When a baby is conceived with a specific disability or a blemish, it is
common. When a baby's family doesn't want to care for him or her, they might
take up the mantle of euthanasia to terminate the helpless child's life,
which makes a joke of the compassionate policy that was put in place for
- According to persons who are influenced by the erroneous ideas of tantric &
mystics, people might use the authorization of terminating the life of a patient
despite his agreement, as non-voluntary euthanasia, to devote them as a
- The delivery of a woman or girl is still considered undesirable by
certain individuals, which belief it to be a strain or indeed a bane. By
triggering a big tragedy or catastrophe that might force her to go into a
persistent paralytic condition early age or further on, bring her death by
- The abuse of euthanasia might occur as well if the family of the patient
commits some harm in addition to securing certain assets as well as a
getaway of an ailing relative, thereby avoiding the costs of his
- As a society that places great value on its customs & beliefs, Indians
adhere to their values, whether they are traditional or spiritual, with
great fervor. There are many faiths in our country, and euthanasia isn't one
of them. So, implementing a policy that might offend the emotional feelings
of the mass of these faiths wouldn't be an amazing option.
Despite the fact that euthanasia is currently allowed in several nations
throughout the planet, legalizing it's not really a particularly popular notion.
It has taken a while for the Indian courts to recognize & approve euthanasia,
starting with the trials of Gian Kaur, Aruna Shanbaug, and Common cause (a
Every individual must regard & adhere to the rulings made
by the Constitutional Court because it is the highest authority of
jurisprudence, as well as the panel considering the issues is extremely
knowledgeable & smart. There has recently been a lot of discussion about the
legality of assisted suicide in several nations and this judgment is welcomed.
For now, the practice of active euthanasia is still not permitted, and perhaps
it would not be applied in the long term either. The authorization of euthanasia
will do more harm than good to the persons upon whom it's been implemented.
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- 2011 4 SCC 454 S. 140
- CrlJ 549 AIR 1987
- CrlJ 549 AIR 1988
- 3 SCC 394 AIR 1994
- 2 SCC 648 AIR 1996
- Dr. S.S Jaswal & S.C Baseen, civil & military law journal, pg. - 90
Written By: B.U. Rajavelan