Euthanasia- A Brief Study
Author: Vaasawa Sharma
Designation: Research Scholar, Amity University, Gurugram
Email ID: firstname.lastname@example.org
‘Euthanasia’ or ‘Mercy Killing’ is the term which means killing of a person with the consent of his own. The terms ‘Euthanasia’ and ‘Suicide’ depicts self-destruction and therefore both of them lacks legal and public sanction. The killing of a person due to terminal illness or unbearable pain is called as euthanasia. The concept of euthanasia is very controversial. With the development in various countries, this concept has become the topic of more importance. In some countries, mercy killing is lawful and is not considered as a sin. So, this controversial topic took a lead in India also. Recently our Supreme Court in Aruna Shanbaug case, has already given its decision on this point and allowed passive euthanasia in India.[i]
Types of Euthanasia
Euthanasia simply means to put a person to painless death. The methods used for this purpose are various like administering drugs or medicines etc.
The classification is-
Active Euthanasia: In this type, the patient is given painless death by giving him lethal dose of medication.
Passive Euthanasia: When the life supporting system of the patient is withdrawn as a result of which he is subjected to death.
Voluntary: The euthanasia is said to be voluntary when the consent of death is taken voluntarily. The consent is not obtained by coercion or undue influence or any other means.
Involuntary: When the patient is killed without his voluntary consent, such type of killing is known as involuntary euthanasia and it is also a criminal offence under section 302 of Indian Penal Code.
Non-Voluntary: This type of euthanasia is present where the person is mentally ill or he is not competent to give his consent to death. For example, the comatose patient. Mostly, the family members take the decision of such person.[ii]
Various ways for euthanasia:
1. Lethal Injection: The patient is given the injection or drug of poison.
2. Asphyxiation – In this method, Carbon Monoxide gas is used to end the life of the patient. Other gases such as sarin, tabun etc are also used. One of the methods is also Dr. Jack Kevorkian’s death machine (mercitron, thanatron). He is also known as Dr.Death. It’s a unique method in which a person can end his life himself. With the use of this machine a person can end his life himself painlessly at the time chosen by the patient.
Euthanasia- Whether Lawful?
In India, Euthanasia is undoubtedly illegal. Any such killing will fall under the category of murder under section 302 of Indian Penal Code. In cases where the consent of patient is obtained, then exception 5 of section 300 will be applied and the doctor would be held liable under section 304 of the said act. Right to suicide or right to die is not the ‘fundamental right’ available to us. The killing of a person is truly illegal and wrongful.
the Supreme Court in Gian Kaur v. State of Punjab[iii], it is well settled that the “right to life” guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution does not include the “right to die”. The Court held that Article 21 is a provision guaranteeing “protection of life and personal liberty” and by no stretch of the imagination can extinction of life be read into it.
Life is precious, and it is the wonderful right which is given to every human being by god. We must respect the decision of almighty and should not opt such unnatural ways of ending life. Suicide and euthanasia both are sinful. They shall not be legalized. The happening of certain contingencies is obviously a tragic moment for the sufferer but one needs to stay strong. Ending life is not recommended. Therefore, the killing of a human being is not just and lawful, we all must condemn it and move with the flow of life.