You are on page 1of 3

Name: Deepa Jyoti Khakha

Roll no.: 165 Sec: A Sem: VIII

HEALTH LAW

CAT 2

EUTHANASIA AND THE LAW

The word euthanasia comes from the Greek word eu meaning good and thanatos meaning
death and refers to the action of a third party, usually a doctor to deliberately end the life of an
individual. Euthanasia may be voluntary when an individual give consent for the procedure and
non-voluntary when the individual is unable to ask for the procedure in such circumstance
another makes the decision for that person.1

In euthanasia, if the physician takes direct action to end a patients life it is called active
euthanasia eg. by injecting patient with a large dose of sedatives and when the physician causes
death by withholding or withdrawing treatment that is necessary to maintain life, such as
withholding antibiotics from someone with pneumonia is said to have committed passive
euthanasia. Physician assisted suicide is different from euthanasia as it involves the physician
to supply means, usually medication, to a patient to take necessary action to end his/her own
life.2

On the dilemma to end ones life and relieve one from his suffering is debatable. Thus,
euthanasia legal position is to be realized, however, religiously, morally and legally its
debatable. Different nations have different legal viewpoints on euthanasia, where some nations
still dont allow euthanasia considering it equal to murder whereas, some nations allows breaking
the stereotype and considering euthanasia not to be immoral.

India being a nation diverse religion and culture, different religions have their different own
perspective. Where Islam, Christianity and Judaism considering against Gods will and follows
orthodox concept forbidding euthanasia; Hinduism and Buddhism don't disapprove euthanasia
considering that Hindu mythology shows instances where some had given right to choose the
1
Euthanasia: Your Body, Your Death, Your Choice, The Irish Council for Bioethics, Dublin.
Available at: http://www.rte.ie/science/euthanasia_leaflet.pdf
2
Bioethics, Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide, Jones and Bartlett Publishers, LLC.
Available at: http://www.jblearning.com/samples/0763743267/43267_CH05_Pass1.pdf
time of their deaths whereas Buddhist consider simply relieve from lifes miseries in the case of
terminal illness.3

In India, like most other nations, euthanasia has no legal status. Various cases and provisions
deal with euthanasia subjectively. Where in some places, euthanasia is a clear act of offense in
others, has allowed euthanasia. Lets take a look at laws relating to it.

Indian Penal Code indirectly makes euthanasia an offense. Section 87 lays down that consent
cannot be pleaded as a defense where consent is given to death or grievous hurt and section 300
exception 5 protects the death of another above the age of eighteen with his/her consent.
However, this section only reduces the gravity of offense charging for culpable homicide not
amounting to murder.4

Article 21 of Indian Constitution is often challenged arguing that it also includes right to die.
This question has been dealt differently, in the case of Maruti Shripathi Dubal v. State of
Maharastra5, the Bombay High Court held that the right to life also includes right to die but fails
to explain how. Later, in the case of Rathinam v. Union of India6, the Supreme Court upheld
section 309 of the IPC which makes attempt to commit suicide an offense. However, in case of
Gian Kaur v. State of Punjab7 overruled and upheld validity of Section 309 of IPC and held that
right to life doesnt include right to die.8 In the landmark judgment of Aruna Ramachandra
Shanbaug v. Union of India9case, the Supreme Court allowed passive euthanasia and gave
opinion that Gian Kaurs case argument is not satisfying in relation to Article 21. However,
active euthanasia is still illegal due to lack of proper legislature.10

After Arunas judgment the Law Commission of India in their 241 report on euthanasia- a relook
put forward to amend and revise the Medical Treatment of Terminally-ill Patients (Protection of

3
Dr. Lily Srivastav, Law and Medicine, Universal law publishing, New Delhi, 2010. Pg. 147
4
Id. pg. 151
5
1987 Cr. LJ 743
6
(1994) 3 SCC 394
7
(1996) 2 SCC 648
8
Ibid.
9
2011 (4) SCC 454
10
Ibid
Patients and Medical Practitioners) Act and confirms suggestion of 17th Law Commission 196th
report to legalize passive euthanasia however, the Bill has not yet been passed.11

11
Euthanasia- a relook, Law Commission of India, 241 report