India practices right to life, liberty, and property as a basic right to every individual in the nation. Each person desires to live their life to the fullest. Even at conditions, the person can be desirous of ending his life. Every such individual may be through voluntary actions in the form of suicide or euthanasia[1]. The act of euthanasia or ‘mercy killing’, is a very debated topic in the nation. According to this practice, the victim, or any other person on his behalf, give their assent for the voluntary execution of the sufferer. In recent times, the legalization of the practice has been in light. Many terminally sick people who do not have the scope to recover from a serious ailment. This is done simply to end the lives of the incurable patients to end in mercifulness and stop their sufferings. Yet the state has completely put the laws on the practice for being a cruel approach. In this article, we would cover the Indian legal perspective of euthanasia and why legalization should be upheld for the same.


In 1935, a standard situation was overturned when C. Killick Millard found a society called the voluntary euthanasia legislation society. The society later grew to be the euthanasia society which organized a movement for the legalization of euthanasia in 1935. Yet the bill was not supported by the house of lords and deemed to be cruel and inhumane in nature. In India Euthanasia was not seen as a very wide discussed topic until the Aruna Ramachandran Shaunbag case came to the limelight. This case overturned the fortune of the passive form of euthanasia in the country.

Euthanasia is basically of two types, voluntary and involuntary. The voluntary form of euthanasia is a condition where the consent is given by the patient for a merciful death. In the case of involuntary, there is no such consent or unable to give consent due to deteriorating health conditions. Similarly, on the basis of the classification procedure, there are two types of applications. Namely active euthanasia and passive euthanasia. In India, the position of passive euthanasia is supportive as it slows down or withdraws the life-sustaining situation or treatments for the patients.


There are no pertaining laws with regard to euthanasia in India. But the courts recognize the case of passive euthanasia. In a recent case, it was held that ‘right to die with dignity’ is a fundamental right of a person. It can be availed by the patients who are on the verge of support systems of incurable diseases, prolonged diseases that have no recovery or have reached a permanent vegetative state of no recovery. It is also applicable for the patients who have supported life on the external instruments and machines. Only in such cases the passive euthanasia can be given on the order.

The situation arose after a lot of resistance. Earlier passive euthanasia was also viewed as illegal. The doctors condemned the practice of unethical medical practice. The word euthanasia came under the purview of exception 5 of section 300 in the IPC depicting the ‘intention’ required requisite to practice voluntary death. The euthanasia in India has been now a case of voluntarily practiced conditions under speculated supervision of the legislation. As seen earlier, the condition was completely a liable one for culpable homicide not amounting to murder and punishable under section 304 of the IPC.

The case that overturned the future was Aruna Ramachandra Shaunbag vs. Union of India. This case was a landmark one that held the situation in favor. In 1973, Aruna Shaunbag, a nurse in the KEM hospital of Mumbai was assaulted by a co-worker. He was gaged by the same person when she threatened to complain about the actions. The oxygen cut off to her brain eventually led to blindness, deafness, and complete paralysis. Until the 2011 judgment, that sparked a rage of debates across the country, she had been surviving on life support ventilator. However, the vegetative state of Aruna started deteriorating, Even the professionals found it difficult to convince the lordships for the legislation regarding the legal practice of euthanasia. Unless in 2010, the Supreme Court responded to the plea filed by Aruna’s lawyer and in 2011 gave the verdict that passive euthanasia is not illegal.

The law commission has recommended the legalization of euthanasia, in the 241st Report. The court has recognized the use of passive euthanasia. Active euthanasia is still deemed to be inappropriate. The courts are of the view that a person, or here, a doctor cannot be punished for not saving the patients. However, since the act included the positive part of the offender, it still has the omission of necessary duties wherein the doctor is liable.


The legalization of euthanasia is still a deliberate issue. The act may be a hope for the ailing patients but the misuse and exploitation also have a verge over the consequential legalization. In India itself, the over actions over the same can climb unnatural heights. The corruption and gullible governance can be easily influenced with brie. Numerous deaths may uphold the misleading actions. Human trafficking and organ trafficking has deep-seated in India. The actions of legalization can also promote more of the said crimes. The right to life is under question when the disabled born children may fall prey to the misuse of the same actions. One cannot condemn it completely and neither uphold it.

The legalization may lead to a lot of positive impact on the life of ailing patients. A voluntary and merciful deaths can be provided under their consent. Elimination of burdens on people who are financially weak or the patients who have very weak mental hold. All in all, the conclusive right to die can be very evident under the legalization.


The main intention behind the practice of euthanasia is not to take the life of any person but rather evidently give their right to death. The minds which are becoming more submissive and practical can mold under this structure of legislation. Inspire of repeated public demand the government had held the verdict. In 2018, the passive euthanasia was legalized. Although the government is still under a dilemma the consequence followed up has a huge part in the complete legalization of the act. Owing to the recent developments, a similar law is appreciated under the complete supervision of the judiciary. Consent should be obtained and the order should be passed under vigilant supervision.

[1] An act by which voluntary death is provided for a suffering person.


© The People Bookmark | 2020

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