Right to Die – Part 5

Francis Coralie Mullin v UT of Delhi

The statement, which has been repeatedly quoted with approval by the Supreme Court, has been further in the above stated case by the statement “that any act which damages or injures or interferes with the use of any limb or faculty of a person, either permanently or even temporarily, would be within the inhibition of Article 21.” In the same case, Bhagwati J held:

We think that the right to life includes the right to live with human dignity and all that goes along with it, namely, the bare necessaries of life such as adequate nutrition, clothing and shelter and facilities for reading, writing and expressing one in diverse forms, freely moving about and mixing and commingling with fellow human beings.”

Again relying on the Francis Coralie Case, in Bandhua Mukti Morcha v Union of India, where the question of bondage and rehabilitation of some laborers was involved. Bhagwa J held:

It is the fundamental right of everyone in this country … to live with human dignity, free from exploitation. This right to live with human dignity enshrined in Article 21 derives its life breath from the Directive Principles of State Policy and particularly clauses (e) and (f) of Article 39 and Articles 41 and 42 and at least, therefore, it must include protection of the health and strength of the workers, men and women, and of the tender age of children against abuse, opportunities and [1]facilities for children to develop in a healthy manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity, educational facilities, just and humane requirements which must exist in order to enable a person to live with human dignity, and no State…. has the right to make any action which will deprive a person of the enjoyment of these basic essentials.

This Statement has been endorsed by the court in a petition seeking ban on injurious drugs and in a petition seeking human conditions in a care home for females. Similarly, the court has favorably entertained a petition under Article 21 for appropriate relief against the leakage of oleum gas from a chemical plant resulting in loss of lives and injury to health. The right to appropriate relief against the ill-effects of X-ray radiation on the employees of a State corporation- Bharat Electronics Ltd- has also been recognized under Article 21. Further, in a case of the effect asbestos exposure on the health of workers the Court has held that the right to health and medical aid to protect the health. The right to appropriate relief against the ill-effects of X-ray radiation on the employees of a State Corporation- Bharat Electronics Ltd- has also been recognized under Article 21.

Further, in a case of the effect of asbestos exposure on the health of workers the court has held that the right to health and medical aid to protect the health and vigor of worker while in service or after retirement is a fundamental right under Article 21 read with Articles 39(e), 41, 43, 48-A and all related articles and fundamental human rights to make the life of the workman meaningful and purposeful with dignity of person. Sewage workers employed by the government contractors are also entitled to humane work conditions and to compensation in case of injury or death. Special safeguards and protective measures must be taken for the workers in the hazardous industries or employment.


State of HP v Umed Ram Sharma

The Court in this case held that the Right to Life in Article 21 “embraces not only physical existence of life but also the quality of life and for residents of hilly areas, access to road is access to life itself.” Right to unpolluted environment and preservation and protection of nature’s gift has also been conceded under Article 21. This right encompasses wide variety of many other rights such as protection of wildlife, forests, lakes, ancient monuments, fauna-flora, unpolluted air, protection from noise, air and water pollution, maintenance of ecological balance and sustainable development. The right to clean environment may have precedence over economic interests of the society. The Court has also observed that life “includes all that give meaning to a man’s life including his tradition, culture and heritage and protection of that heritage in its full measure.” Again, the Court has held that right to life includes the right to “a reasonable accommodation to live in” and right to shelter,” including the necessary infrastructure to live with human dignity.” The Commission of rape has been held to be a violation of the right to life of the victim under Article 21. Right to self-preservation has also been recognized under this article, so also the right to reputation, the right to sleep undisturbed having good reputation and peaceful leaving in one’s home.

Landmark Cases

P Rathinam v Union of India

On the basis of Bijoe Emmanuel v State of Kerala (1986)(SC), it was held in this case that if a person has a right to live, then he also has a right to die which is implicit in Article 21. Whenever there is positive right to do something, the negative of that right is also implicit.

There is a need to humanize the law- If a person is already under so much distress that he decides to end his life then he should not be punished to end his life.

Common Cause v Union of India (2018) (SC)

An individual has the right to die a natural death with dignity as a part of his Right to Life. If a person is kept alive in the case of some illness or accident only due to some advanced medical facilities, then he does have a right to die a natural death with dignity by removing these facilities.

When the State cannot guarantee in totality the right to health, then how it can deny the right to deny with dignity. Moreover, the engagement of life care facilities unnecessarily for one person whereas there may be some other person in the need of such facilities will be improper

Other Landmark Judgments- Aruna Ramchandra Shanbaug v Union of India (2011)(SC)

Gujjan Kaur v State of Punjab (1996)(SC)

The Guidelines for Living Will

. Adult of sane mind- execute it without any coercion after having full knowledge

. Document has to be executed before a First Class Judicial Magistrate in front of witnesses

. It shall clearly state as to when medical treatment may be withdrawn or no specific medical treatment shall be given which will only have the effect of delaying the process of death that may otherwise cause him/her pain

. It should specify the name of a guardian or close relatives who will be authorized to give consent to refuse or withdraw medical treatment

Aishwarya Says:

I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.

If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.

Do follow me on FacebookTwitter  Youtube and Instagram.

The copyright of this Article belongs exclusively to Ms. Aishwarya Sandeep. Reproduction of the same, without permission will amount to Copyright Infringement. Appropriate Legal Action under the Indian Laws will be taken.

If you would also like to contribute to my website, then do share your articles or poems at adv.aishwaryasandeep@gmail.com

We also have a Facebook Group Restarter Moms for Mothers or Women who would like to rejoin their careers post a career break or women who are enterpreneurs.

You may also like to read:

Conciliation officer under Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 – Aishwarya Sandeep

How Money can buy time – Aishwarya Sandeep

Voting Rights – USA – Part 5 – Aishwarya Sandeep

One comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.