EUTHANASIA:: STILL A LONG JOURNEY FOR INDIA

INTRODUCTION

Euthanasia is described as the intentional termination of a person’s life in order to alleviate his or her suffering. It is sometimes referred to as ‘Mercy Killing.’ According to this approach, the person who is terminally ill or injured, or any other person acting on his behalf, chooses death for himself. Physicians use euthanasia to compassionately terminate the victim’s life, freeing him from incurable sickness, excruciating agony, and the sorrow and pain of life.

CLASSIFICATION OF EUTHANASIA

Euthanasia mainly classified into following categories-:

  1. Active euthanasia 
  2. Passive euthanasia
  3. Voluntary euthanasia
  4. Involuntary euthanasia
  5. Self-administered euthanasia
  6. Other-administered euthanasia
  7. Assisted
  8. Mercy killing
  9. Physician-assisted suicide

ACTIVE EUTHANASIA

Active euthanasia is the deliberate death of a terminally ill or disabled individual. It entailed causing the victim to die voluntarily by performing an act, such as injecting a patient with an overdose of a substance.

STATUS OF ACTIVE EUTHANASIA IN INDIA

Active euthanasia is officially illegal in India. If a doctor delivers active euthanasia, he will be prosecuted under Section 304 of the Indian Penal Code (Punishment for Culpable Homicide Not Amounting to Murder)[2]. If a person administers euthanasia while alive, he or she will be prosecuted under Section 309 (Attempt to Suicide) of the Indian Penal Code.

PASSIVE EUTHANASIA

The victim dies as a result of passive euthanasia since the therapy required to preserve his life is either postponed or not provided. In this instance, medical practitioners either do not do something essential to keep the patient alive, or they stop providing the necessary therapy, such as turning off the life support system, removing the feeding tube, not performing life-extending surgery, and other similar activities. The physicians in “passive euthanasia” are not actively murdering somebody; they are simply not rescuing him.

STATUS OF PASSIVE EUTHANASIA IN INDIA

Only passive euthanasia is legal in Indian courts. In the recent case of Common Cause v. UOI, it was determined that a person’s “right to die with dignity” is a basic right. It is available to patients suffering from incurable and long-term disorders who have reached the condition of permanent vegetative state (p. v. s.), where there is little or no possibility of recovery and the patients are kept alive using external devices and machinery such as cardiopulmonary machines. Passive euthanasia may be permitted in such instances.

VOLUNTARY EUTHANASIA

Voluntary euthanasia is refers to a situation in which the victim itself request the medical professionals to end his life in order to provide them relief from their suffering. The voluntary euthanasia includes the following cases-

  1. Asking for help with dying refusing burdensome medical treatment 
  2. Asking for medical treatment to be stopped or life support machines to be switched off.
  3. Refusing to eat
  4. Simply deciding to die

INVOLUNTARY EUTHANASIA

Involuntary euthanasia is refers to a situation in which the victim is not capable of making decision for euthanasia. The involuntary euthanasia includes the following cases-

  1. The person is in a coma 
  2. The person is too young (a very young baby) 
  3. The person is senile
  4. The person is mentally retarded to a very severe extent
  5. The person is severely brain damaged
  6. The person is mentally disturbed in such a way that they should be protected from themselves.

SELF-ADMINISTERED EUTHANASIA

In self-administered euthanasia the individual who is suffering from the incurable disease or intolerable suffering himself administers the means of death.

OTHER-ADMINISTERED EUTHANASIA

In other-administered euthanasia the person other than the victim administers the means of death.

ASSISTED EUTHANASIA

In assisted euthanasia the hopelessly sick or injured individual administers the means of death but with the assistant of medical professionals. 

MERCY KILLING

The term “mercy-killing” usually refers to active, involuntary or non-voluntary, other-administered euthanasia.  In other words, someone kills a patient without their explicit consent to end the patient’s suffering.  Some ethicists think that

PHYSICIAN-ASSISTED SUICIDE

The term “physician-assisted suicide” refers to active, voluntary euthanasia in which a physician supports the patient. A physician gives a mechanism for the patient to murder himself or herself, such as enough drugs. Some euthanasia cases are rather uncontroversial. For example, killing a patient against their choice (involuntary, aggressive/active, other-administered) is virtually unanimously condemned. During the late 1930s and early 1940s, Adolf Hitler carried out a campaign in Germany to eliminate disabled children (with or without their parents’ approval) under the pretence of enhancing the Aryan “race” and lowering societal expenditures. Everyone today believes that euthanasia in the service of a eugenics agenda was manifestly immoral.

LEGAL ASPECTS OF EUTHANASIA IN INDIA

The Supreme Court of India has discussed the topic of mercy killing on multiple occasions. With a change in the needs of society, the Supreme Court has expressed its view on the topic at the very outset. Some of the case laws regarding this concept are discussed below-

  1. GIAN KAUR V. STATE OF PUNJAB

In this case Honorable Supreme court held that A21 of the Indian constitution that is right to life does not include the negative right to die. 

  • P.RATHINAM V. UNION OF INDIA 

In this case it was held that criminal penalties for suicide violate the constitutional right to life by amounting to a double punishment, specifically arguing that women who attempt suicide after abuse cannot be criminally penalized for the suicide attempt.

  • ARUNA RAMCHANDRA SHANBAUG V. UNION OF INDIA

In this case the Honorable Supreme court held that the passive euthanasia permitted to that individuals who are in PVS under strict procedures. 

  • COMMON CAUSEV.UNION OF INDIA

In this case, the Supreme Court ruled that an individual has a right to die with dignity as part of his or her right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. This decision allows for the withdrawal of life-support equipment from terminally sick patients or those in irreversible comas. The court also acknowledged the importance of having a living will and allowed individuals to decide against mechanical life support. In this decision, the Court also established some propositions about the method for carrying out Advance Directives and issued guidance for doing so in order to give effect to passive euthanasia.

CONCLUSION

While several governments have previously recognised and legalised the provision of euthanasia, legalising it may not be a particularly appealing notion. As a result, the courts in India have taken a long time, from the cases of Gian Kaur and Aruna Shanbaug to the case of Common Cause (a registered society), to recognise and legalise euthanasia, and have legalised passive, voluntary euthanasia. The Supreme Court has legalised the practise of euthanasia in light of the patient’s anguish and the significance of his peaceful dying in life. Making the right to die with dignity a reality is a good step toward realising the right to life guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution.

Every individual must respect and follow to the Constitutional Court’s judgements since it is the highest authority of jurisprudence, and the panel evaluating the problems is incredibly informed and brilliant. There has lately been a lot of debate over the legality of assisted suicide in numerous countries, therefore this decision is excellent.

Active euthanasia is still prohibited for the time being, and it is unlikely to be used in the long run. The legalisation of euthanasia will cause more harm than benefit to those who are subjected to it.

REFERENCES

Aishwarya Says:

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