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mercy_killing_496791a

mercy_killing_496791a

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Published by Tushar Sinha

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Published by: Tushar Sinha on Apr 10, 2011
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09/05/2011

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REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIACRIMINAL ORIGINAL JURISDICTION
WRIT PETITION (CRIMINAL) NO. 115 OF 2009
Aruna Ramchandra Shanbaug .. Petitioner-versus-Union of India and others .. Respondents
J U D G M E N T
Markandey Katju, J.
“Marte hain aarzoo mein marne ki Maut aati hai par nahin aati” 
-- Mirza Ghalib 
1. Heard Mr. Shekhar Naphade, learned senior counsel for the petitioner,learned Attorney General for India for the Union of India Mr. Vahanvati,Mr. T. R. Andhyarujina, learned Senior Counsel, whom we had appointed as
amicus curiae,
Mr. Pallav Sisodia, learned senior counsel for the Dean,KEM Hospital, Mumbai, and Mr. Chinmay Khaldkar, learned counsel forthe State of Maharashtra.
 
 
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2. Euthanasia is one of the most perplexing issues which the courts andlegislatures all over the world are facing today. This Court, in this case, isfacing the same issue, and we feel like a ship in an uncharted sea, seekingsome guidance by the light thrown by the legislations and judicialpronouncements of foreign countries, as well as the submissions of learnedcounsels before us. The case before us is a writ petition under Article 32 of the Constitution, and has been filed on behalf of the petitioner ArunaRamachandra Shanbaug by one Ms. Pinki Virani of Mumbai, claiming to bea next friend.3. It is stated in the writ petition that the petitioner Aruna RamachandraShanbaug was a staff Nurse working in King Edward Memorial Hospital,Parel, Mumbai. On the evening of 27th November, 1973 she was attacked bya sweeper in the hospital who wrapped a dog chain around her neck andyanked her back with it. He tried to rape her but finding that she wasmenstruating, he sodomized her. To immobilize her during this act hetwisted the chain around her neck. The next day on 28th November, 1973 at7.45 a.m. a cleaner found her lying on the floor with blood all over in anunconscious condition. It is alleged that due to strangulation by the dogchain the supply of oxygen to the brain stopped and the brain got damaged.It is alleged that the Neurologist in the Hospital found that she had plantars'
 
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extensor, which indicates damage to the cortex or some other part of thebrain. She also had brain stem contusion injury with associated cervical cordinjury. It is alleged at page 11 of the petition that 36 years have expired sincethe incident and now Aruna Ramachandra Shanbaug is about 60 years of age. She is featherweight, and her brittle bones could break if her hand or legare awkwardly caught, even accidentally, under her lighter body. She hasstopped menstruating and her skin is now like papier mache' stretched over askeleton. She is prone to bed sores. Her wrists are twisted inwards. Her teethhad decayed causing her immense pain. She can only be given mashed food,on which she survives. It is alleged that Aruna Ramachandra Shanbaug is ina persistent negetative state (p.v.s.) and virtually a dead person and has nostate of awareness, and her brain is virtually dead. She can neither see, norhear anything nor can she express herself or communicate, in any mannerwhatsoever. Mashed food is put in her mouth, she is not able to chew or tasteany food. She is not even aware that food has been put in her mouth. She isnot able to swallow any liquid food, which shows that the food goes downon its own and not because of any effort on her part. The process of digestion goes on in this way as the mashed food passes through her system.However, Aruna is virtually a skeleton. Her excreta and the urine isdischarged on the bed itself. Once in a while she is cleaned up but in a short

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