Law and Justice

Passive euthanasia: an analysis

Should a man have a right to die, in addition to the right to live? Is he, above all, entitled to a peaceful death? Is it a felony or an unpunishable act to deprive someone of their life on the basis of mercy? All these questions are often raised when euthanasia is discussed. Hence in this world euthanasia have become a topic of debate and have taken the world by storm. Recently the 2018 Indian judgement of legalizing passive euthanasia have been seen as victory of passive euthanasia in India. Euthanasia literally means good death and is derived from two ancient Greek words – ‘Eu’ meaning good and ‘thantos’ meaning death. Euthanasia is ‘a deliberate intervention undertaken with the express intention of ending life to relieve intractable suffering’. euthanasia can be classified as voluntary involuntary and non-voluntary euthanasia. voluntary euthanasia means where the patient expressly requests that his life be taken away. Involuntary Euthanasia, means euthanasia without consent where an individual on behalf of other makes the decision to do so and lastly in non- voluntary the individual's express consent is not valid, such as when the person is in a persistent vegetative state. Both voluntary and involuntary euthanasia can be conducted either passively or actively. Active euthanasia refers to the use of legal drugs or coercion to kill a human and regarded as a controversial method, whereas passive refers to the withholding of common procedures, such as antibiotics, that are required for life to continue.

In various historical eras, the importance of a normal lifespan and the acceptability of heroic, voluntary death and divine, self-willed death were regarded differently. Although euthanasia was treated favorably in classical Hinduism, by the 10th century CE, significant opposition had arisen, suggesting that it had been exploited, either as a form of euthanasia or in other forms of heroic and religious self-willed death. Euthanasia in the sense of "right to leave" by those suffering from an otherwise incurable disease or facing a grim old age was common in classical India. As a result, euthanasia was known as self-inflicted suicide rather than mercy killing of another human being. India's great prophets, sages, and seers have practiced divine philosophy since the beginning of time. Many of them have possessed ichcha mrityu, the greatest human virtue of being able to command death at will. Vinoba Bhave, who fasted before death, was also a self-willed death practitioner. Both the Pandavas' and Kauravas' ancestor and guru beckoned to death after the victory of good over evil and dharma (righteousness) over adharma (sin), and after being freed from obligations and duties to humanity and the kingdom, according to the Mahabharata. However, several years later, as India was under British rule, attitudes toward euthanasia shifted. With the implementation of British law in India, it became an illegal act under the Penal Code, when suicide was considered to encompass all forms of self-inflicted death.

Religions consider it crucial to comprehend death and dying in order to find meaning in life. Since Indian culture is primarily religious, understanding the role of euthanasia in India through the prism of different religions is crucial before debating its legal status. Hinduism is a faith that the vast majority of Indians believe in and practice. Pray-upavasa, or death fasting, is a "natural way for Hindus to end their lives only under such circumstances," according to Hindu tradition. There had been some other ways where saints, sages, seers and sadhu had taken Samadhi and Jal Samaadhi. These ideas seem to be closer to the euthanasia theory practiced in Hinduism. There is another stream of Hindu religio-philosophic thought, in which various points of view are held. It has been adopted that an individual can only achieve salvation or mukti and moksh from the cycle of rebirth if he or she dies naturally, according to Hindu religious belief. Santhara is a type of euthanasia recognized by the Jain religion, an ancient Indian theocratic order. After instinctively knowing death was coming, one is “presumed to willingly shunning all of life's temptations—food, water, emotions, bonds—under this Jain belief system." The followers believe that “when all of life's purposes have been fulfilled, “served, or when the body is no longer capable of serving some function, an individual may choose it.” Euthanasia is prohibited by Islam's socio-legal structure. The Islamic sharia asserts that human life is holy and inviolable in no uncertain words. It is forbidden to take life that Allah has made holy unless it is in the course of justice. Christians' religion forbids the killing of any innocent person, even though that person wishes to die. It is a part of a person's belief system. Christians believe “Birth and death are part of the life cycles that God has created,”

Despite the fact that the law occurs in many nations, it has become a sleeping giant in India, where euthanasia takes place behind closed doors. Its attitude in India was mainly shaped through the following cases. In Prathinam case, a Division Bench of the Supreme Court also supported the High Court ruling striking down Section 309 as unconstitutional, which deals with attempting suicide. But Gian kaur case the verdict was reversed in 1996. The right to live does not require "the right to death" or "the right to be killed," according to a five-member Constitution Bench. It was in 2011, in the landmark case of Aruna Ramchandra Shanbaug vs complex strategy for approving passive euthanasia and determined that only such conditions should be met the judges stated that the High Court should, in their view, grant permission for the removal of life support assistance to a mentally ill patient. They also stated that if such an application is submitted, the Chief Justice of the High Court should appoint a two-judge bench to determine whether or not to grant permission. Before making a decision, the committee should get the approval of three reputable physicians, one of whom should be a physician, one a psychiatrist, and one a neurologist. Finally, in the case of Common Cause vs. Union of India, the Supreme Court of India permitted passive euthanasia and allowed the elimination of life support devices for terminally ill or in incurable coma patients. The Supreme Court of India ruled in this case that a resident has the right to die with dignity as part of his or her right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.

The preceding clarification and observation demonstrate that death is unavoidable and will strike us all at some point. And it is a fact that we all want to die in a happy and dignified manner. The goal of medical care is to heal the patient; if that fails, it seeks to save the patient's life. Rest and pain relief for the patient are promoted. It can be concluded that passive euthanasia was legalized for individuals rights Every person who has a Right to Life should also have a universal right to relief from pain and suffering. Euthanasia is the process of ending one's life in an ecstatic manner. The crux of the issues is that the patient's immediate relatives want to console him or her. whether by healing or inevitable merciful killing.


Submitted by Shriya Jain