“The care of human life and happiness and not their destruction is the first and only legitimate object of good governance.”
The Right to die is a concept which is based on the opinion that a human being is entitled to make any decisions about ending his or her life (this also includes undergoing voluntary euthanasia). Possession of this right is often understood to mean that a person with a terminal illness, or without the will to continue living, should be allowed to end their own life or to decline life-prolonging treatment. The primary question that arises is whether people should have the right to die and what may be the principle justifying such right.
In India, the sanctity of life has been placed on the highest pedestal. ” The right to life” under Article 21 of the Constitution has received the widest possible interpretation under the able hands of the judiciary and rightly so. This right is inalienable and is inherent in us. It cannot and is not conferred upon us. This vital point seems to elude all those who keep on clamoring for the “Right to Die”.
In Gian Kaur vs. State of Punjab, a five judge Constitutional Bench held that the “right to life” is inherently inconsistent with the “right to die” as is “death” with “life”. In furtherance, the right to life, which includes right to live with human dignity, would mean the existence of such a right up to the natural end of life. It may further include “death with dignity” but such existence should not be confused with unnatural extinction of life curtailing natural span of life. In progression of the above, the constitutionality of Section 309 of the I.P.C, which makes “attempt to suicide” an offence, was upheld, overruling the judgment in P. Rathinam’s case.
In the case of Naresh Marotrao Sakhre v. Union of India the court observed the difference between Euthanasia and suicide. It was discussed that Suicide was an act of self-destruction, to terminate one’s own life without the aid or assistance of any other human agency whereas euthanasia being different as it involves the intervention of a human agency to end one’s life. This mercy killing is from nowhere covered in section 309 of Indian Penal code which states that;
“Attempt to commit suicide.—Whoever attempts to commit suicide and does any act towards the commission of such offence, shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year [or with fine, or with both]”
The implication of the term “euthanasia” is itself shrouded in ambiguity. Derived from the Greek word “euthanatos” meaning “good death”. To reiterate the judicial pronouncements in the Indian context, good or happy death would imply the ebbing of life the natural way.
In its earlier form, it was used as an omnibus term to signify a painless death. In its modern context, the term is used a deliberate euphemism to reduce the culpability of an act”, an act which is a subset of murder, by injecting the term “mercy”. The fact remains” Euthanasia/ Mercy killing is about giving license for the right to kill. The scope of the right to die in India extends to only allowing terminally ill patients or their family to decide when to withdraw life support and to let the person die with dignity. Here, if X has the right to die with dignity when he is terminally ill, Y or the state has the duty to let him exercise this right.
The sanctity of human life does not imply the forced continuation of existence in pain and suffering. Given that a person has the right to lead a dignified existence, he cannot be forced to live to his detriment. If a person suffers from an incurable disease, it would be inhumane to compel him to live a painful life. A terminally ill person should be permitted to terminate his pain and suffering by choosing to do so.
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.
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We are also running a series Inspirational Women from January 2021 to March 31,2021, featuring around 1000 stories about Indian Women, who changed the world. #choosetochallenge