Is Euthanasia legal in India? and what are the legal provisions regarding the same? And what are the judgements that support the claims?
P. Venu (Advocate) 10 March 2021
The Supreme Court has given legal sanction to passive euthanasia in a landmark verdict, permitting 'living will' by patients on withdrawing medical support if they slip into irreversible coma. The Supreme Court's decision (Common Cause vs. Union of India) has been as follows:
(a) The right to die with dignity as fundamental right has already been declared by the Constitution Bench Judgment of this Court in Gian Kaur case (supra) which we reiterate.
(b) We declare that an adult human being having mental capacity to take an informed decision has right to refuse medical treatment including withdrawal from life saving devices.
(c) A person of competent mental faculty is entitled to execute an advance medical directive in accordance with safeguards as referred to above.
Smrithi Jayakumar 11 March 2021
Every citizen has the power to exercise their fundamental rights to live a dignified life. The Indian judiciary recognized passive euthanasia to be legal in the case of Common cause Vs Union of India by declaring the right to die with dignity as a fundamental right. Euthanasia is broadly divided into two types. Passive euthanasia is legal and allows the withdrawal of medical treatment with the intention to expedite the death of a terminally-ill patient. But active euthanasia, where the death of the victim is caused by the medical professionals deliberately due to any act such as administering a lethal drug is considered a crime in India. It was held by the Supreme court in the case of Aruna Ramchandra Shanbaug vs Union of India that passive euthanasia could be legalized only if it is administered in exceptional circumstances complying to strict guidelines.
The Supreme Court specified two conditions to permit Passive Euthanasia Law in 2011 which are,
In the case of Common cause Vs. Union of India a procedure was fixed by the Supreme court which is to be adopted while making and executing a “living will” (Advance Directive) by a person for the withdrawal of medical treatment. The procedure answers the questions regarding who can execute the Advance Directive and the procedure for its execution, its contents, guidelines on how the document should be registered and preserved, when and by whom it can be brought to effect and procedures to be followed if the permission is refused and what can be done if the advance directive is inapplicable.
To conclude, the law specifies that passive euthanasia is legal in India only under certain conditions and when the procedure prescribed by law is firmly followed.
aditi srivastava 11 March 2021
firstly to begin with I would like to add on that there are two types of Euthanasia-
1) Active Euthanasia- When a person deliberately does a thing that would lead to the death of the person. For example, administering a lethal drug. This is a crime in India under IPC section 302 or 304.
2) Passive Euthanasia- It involves withholding a particular treatment or withdrawal from life support system for continuance of life (like removing heart- lung device from a person in coma)
Euthanasia can be further classified as ‘voluntary’ where euthanasia is carried out at the request of the patient and ‘non-voluntary’
legally speaking voluntary euthanasia is illegal as it can be interpreted as attempt to commit suicide which is punishable under Indian Penal Code section 309. The same was advocated by the judgment from the Constitution Bench of the Apex Court in the year 1996 in Gian Kaur vs. State of Punjab where it stated that the right to life guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution does not include the right to die.
In India passive euthanasia was deliberated in Supreme Court in case, Aruna Ramachandra Shanbaug vs. Union of India (2011).The bench observed that a person cannot be allowed to continue suffering in a comatose(vegetative) state when he or she doesn’t wish to live.The order came on a petition seeking recognition of ‘living will’ made by terminally-ill patients for passive euthanasia.
The Supreme Court allowed passive euthanasia in certain conditions. But the court decided that in order to prevent misuse of this provision in the future, the power to determine the termination of a person’s life would be subjected to High Court’s approval following a due procedure.
Whenever any application will be filed in High Court for passive euthanasia, the Chief Justice of the High Court should constitute a Bensh of atleast two judges decinding the matter that whether such termination should be granted or not. The Bench before laying out any judgement should consider the opinion of a committee of 3 reputed doctors. These doctors are also nominated by the Bench after discussing with the appropriate medical practitioners. Along with appointing this committee, it is also the duty of the court to issue a notice to the state, relatives, kins and friends and also provide them with a copy of the report made by a committee of doctors, as soon as it is possible. And after hearing all the sides, the court should deliver the judgement. This procedure is to be followed in India everywhere until any legislation is passed on the subject.
In the Ultimate decision of this case, by keeping all the important facts of the case in consideration, Aruna Shaunbaug was denied euthanasia.The court declared that Aruna is not brain dead and for its judgement relied on the doctor’s report and definition of brain death given under the Transportation of Human Organs Act, 1994. She was able to breathe on her own without a machine’s support, she had feelings and used to show some symptoms. Though she was in a PVS but still her condition was stable. So the grounds presented here are not sufficient for terminating her life.
Ananya Choudhary 15 March 2021
Euthanasia is defined as the hastening of death of a patient to prevent further sufferings. There are some types of the same and all have different legal applicability
(i) Active euthanasia: It is a case where death is brought by an act. Here, a person directly and deliberately does something which results in the death of patient.This is a crime in India (and in most parts of the world) under the Indian Penal Code Section 302 or 304.
(ii) Passive euthanasia: It is a case where death is brought by an omission. It involves withholding of medical treatment or withdrawal from life support system for continuance of life.Legally speaking voluntary euthanasia is illegal as it can be interpreted as attempt to commit suicide which is punishable under Indian Penal Code section 309. The same was advocated by the judgement from the Constitution Bench of the Apex Court in the year 1996 in Gian Kaur vs. State of Punjab where it stated that the right to life guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution does not include the right to die.
It was held in Aruna Ramchandra Shanbaug v. Union of India, that for an incompetent person, who is not able to take decisions as to whether to withdraw life support or not, as parens patrie, it is the Court alone, which can ultimately take this decision in the case of an incompetent person who is unable to take a decision whether to withdraw life support or not, though, no doubt, the views of the near relatives, next friend and doctors must be given due weight. Consequently, in this case, the Apex Court held that, though active euthanasia is completely illegal, passive euthanasia, to an extent, following the guidelines laid down in the case, legalised.
In Common Cause (A Regd. Society) vs. Union of India (UOI) and Ors,, a leading case on euthanasia, passive euthanasia was legalised, and it was held, by the Supreme Court, that the ‘right to die with dignity’ is a fundamental right. Medical treatment can be refused, or decided against taking the same, by a sane adult human of conscious mind. He may decide to die a natural death, instead of availing the treatments.
sneha jaiswal 11 April 2021
Hello, Greetings of the day!
There are two types of Euthanasia that is Passive Euthanasia and Active Euthanasia.
Passive Euthanasia is legal in India with strict guidelines. Patients should assent through a living will, and should be either critically ill or in a vegetative state.
Passive Euthanasia is intentionally letting a patient die by withholding artificial life support such as a ventilator or feeding tube.
And, Active Euthanasia is killing a patient by active means, example, injecting a patient with a lethal dose of a drug. Sometimes referred as “aggressive” Euthanasia.
Every citizen has the power to exercise their fundamental rights to live a dignified life. The Indian judiciary recognized passive euthanasia to be legal in the case of Common cause Vs Union of India by declaring the right to die with dignity as a fundamental right.
It was held by the Supreme court on account of Aruna Ramchandra Shanbaug versus Union of India that passive euthanasia would be legalized only if it is administered in exceptional circumstances with strict guidelines.
Hope it helps
Brahm Sareen 12 May 2021
There has been a constant debate within the judiciary as to what should be the ideal judgment when it comes to legalizing euthanasia. I will specifically talk about the Indian context. So India, often jurists have debated that the right to life provided under Article 21 of the Indian constitution shall include the right to die in the same way, and on the other hand, some courts have pronounced that the right to life should not include the right to die. In the case of M.S Dubal v.s State of Maharashtra, the Bombay High court pronounced the judgment favoring the former argument, that is, that the right to life shall include the right to die. Now you may ask that an attempt to suicide is criminalized under section 309 of IPC. But there is a difference between euthanasia and suicide attempt. Sections 305 and 306 of IPC also provide punishment to an individual who abets suicide. On the other hand, euthanasia is still a matter of contention and generally is committed when an individual has no signs of recovering or is generally on a death bed. In simple terms, if a person cannot be survived, euthanasia is used to end his pain and suffering. There are two types of euthanasia, passive and active. Passive euthanasia is legal in India in many cases. In the case of passive euthanasia, a patient's life support is often removed and the doctors may ask the family of the patient to get the patient discharged. On the other hand in active euthanasia, in order to end the patient's life quicker, the patient is given a lethal drug or an injection. Passive euthanasia is often more painful and uncomfortable. Now talking about the cases where different views have been mentioned. In the case of Chenna Jagadeeswar vs. State of Andhra Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh stated that the right to die is not included in the ambit of article 21. Many other cases such as P. Rathinam v.s UOI, 1994, where the constitutionality of section 309 was challenged before the Supreme court of India, have laid the groundwork of this debate. Later in the case of Gain Kaur v.s State of Punjab, the 5 judges' constitutional bench overruled the decision of the P. Rathinam case. In the end the recent SC judgment in the famous Aruna Shaunbag case, the SC held that active euthanasia is illegal and passive euthanasia is permissible under the supervision of the High court and at the same rejected the plea for mercy killing.
In end, we can conclude that the consent of the patient and the supervision of the High court are the foremost important elements in deciding the legality of euthanasia.
Arpita Chauhan 21 May 2021
First of all, answering your question that whether Euthanasia is legal in India or not, I would like to inform you that in India Passive Euthanasia is legal under strict guidance and active euthanasia is not legal.
Euthanasia basically refers to deliberately ending someone’s life, usually to relieve suffering. Doctors sometimes perform euthanasia when it’s requested by people who have a terminal illness and are in a lot of pain. When most people think of euthanasia, they think of a doctor directly ending someone’s life. This is known as active euthanasia. Purposely giving someone a lethal dose of a sedative is considered active euthanasia. Passive euthanasia is sometimes described as withholding or limiting life-sustaining treatments so that a person passes more quickly.
Euthanasia is legal in many countries like U.S.A, Germany, Japan etc.
In India, the Apex court has made the Passive Euthanasia legalized. In its decision in the case Common regd. Society V. Union Of India in 2018, the supreme court held this decision. However, the Bench also said that the individuals are only allowed to draft a living will regarding this, while he or she is in "normal state of health and mind"
Sir, Euthanasia still is a very controversial issue. In a country like India which consist of such high population, it is difficult to expect that this law will be easily accepted as it is attached with the emotions of the people.
I Hope I was able to help you.
arpita 11 July 2021
In Aruna Shanbaug V. Union of India (2011) her position throughout Supreme Court ruled that individual had the right to die in dignity, enabling passive euthanasia with guidance. In 2011, the Supreme Court recognized passive euthanasia.
The Law Commission has also recommended the legalization of euthanasia, in its 241st Report. In Common Cause vs. Union of India and Ors. a leading case on euthanasia, passive euthanasia was legalized, and it was held, by the Supreme Court, that the right to die with dignity is a fundamental right.