Euthanasia or Mercy Killing

Euthanasia or Mercy Killing

What is Euthanasia?

Euthanasia, also called mercy killing, act or practice of painlessly putting to death persons suffering from painful and incurable disease or incapacitating physical disorder or allowing them to die by withholding treatment or withdrawing artificial life-support measures.

Euthanasia legalised
The first countries to legalize euthanasia were the Netherlands in 2001 and Belgium in 2002.

Active Euthanasia: The administration of a lethal drug by a physician, as well as by a patient himself to end life. It is seen as a positive act.

Passive Euthanasia: withdrawal of  treatment or medical support . Death happens due to preexisting medical conditions.

Is there Dichotmy in Active and Passive Euthanasia?

Active Euthanasia   vis-a-vis    passive Euthanasia

Killing    vis-a-vis    Letting to die

The debate is on whether  a separation of Active and Passive Euthanasia is possible.

Legal Provisions in India

Committing suicide is an offence under section 309 of IPC. Section 115, of the Mental HealthCare Act exempts person who commits suicide from section 309 of the IPC.

At present Active Euthanasia even with the consent of the patient would result in Culpable homicide punishable under IPC.

Supreme Court Judgements

  1. The SC in P. Rathinam V/s Union Of India(1994) debated the constitutionality of the punishment under section 309 who commit suicide. It struck down the punishment under the IPC. Thus Right to die was included within Right to live with dignity.
  2. The debate was raised again in Gian Kaur V/s State Of Punjab(1996), where court overruled the P. Rathinam Judgement and struct it down.
  3. In 2011, Aruna Shanbaug V/s Union of India case,  Supreme Court allowed passive Euthanasia i.e withdrawl of life sustaining treatment from patients who are not in a position to make an informed decision.
  4. In 2018, NGO Common Cause V/s Union Of India, a five-judge bench of the apex court headed by the Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra declared the right to die with dignity as a fundamental right It also issued guidelines to enforce individuals’ living will in case of future in competence.
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