Does Right to Life Include Right to Die ?

Categories: LifeRights

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Protection of Life and Personal Liberty “Article 21 reads as: No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to aprocedure established by law.

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” The phraseology may be negative, but it has conferred an obligation on the state to ensure good quality of life and a dignified life to the people, which is the positive aspect of the article. According to Bhagwati, J. , Article 21 “embodies a constitutional value of supreme importance in a democratic society. ”Iyer, J. , has characterized Article 21 as “the procedural magna cartaprotective of life and liberty.

This right has been held to be the heart of the Constitution, the most organic and progressive provision in our living constitution, the foundation of our laws. Article 21 secures two rights: * Right to life; and * Right to personal liberty. The Article prohibits the deprivation of the above rights except according to aprocedure established by law. Article 21 can only be claimed when a person is deprived of his “life” or “personal liberty” by the “State” as defined in Article 12. Violation of the right by a private individual is not within the preview of Article 21.

Article 21 applies to natural persons. The right is available to every person, citizen or alien. Thus, even a foreigner can claim this right. Right to Life: An Introduction The term “life” as mentioned in the Article has been given a broad meaning by theSupreme Court. Right to Life does not merely mean the continuance of a person’s animalexistence but a quality of life. In the case of Kharak Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh, theSupreme Court quoted with approval Field, J. ’s observation in Munn v. Illinois, and held: ‘By the term “life” as here used something more is meant than mere animal existence.

The inhibition against its deprivation extends to all those limbs and faculties by which life is enjoyed. The provision equally prohibits the mutilation of the body by amputation of an arm or leg or the pulling out of an eye, or the destruction of any other organ of the body through which the soul communicates with the outer world. ’ In Sunil Batra v. Delhi Administration, the Supreme Court reiterated with theapproval the above observations and held that the “right to life” included the right to lead a healthy life so as to enjoy all faculties of the human body in their prime conditions.

It would even include the right to protection of a person’s tradition, culture, heritage and all that gives meaning to a man’s life. It includes the right to live in peace, to sleep in peace and the right to repose and health. In P. Rathinam v. Union of India, the Supreme Court defined “Life” as follows:“the right to live with human dignity and the same does not connote continued drudgery.

It takes within its fold some of the fine graces of civilization which makes life worth living and that the expanded concept of life would mean the tradition, culture and heritage of the person concerned. In Olga Tellis, the Supreme Court has emphasized that the term “life” in Article 21 is not only restricted to mere animal existence of a person. It means something more and “the inhibition against the deprivation of life extents to all those limits and faculties by which life is enjoyed. ” No Right to Die or Commit Suicide Can the right to life be interpreted to such an extent which leads to its self destruction or self opposition? That is, can it include within its ambit the right not to live or the right to die? The wordEuthanasia comes from the Greek – “Euthanatos” derived from the words ‘eu’ meaning good and ‘thanatos’meaning death.

It is the intentional killing by act or omission of a dependant human being for his or her alleged benefit. Somehow the meaning of Euthanasia is explained in light of suicide while suicide is, many agree, considered as murder except that it is the victim who is the author himself. One of its kinds is assisted suicide which happens when someone provides an individual with the information, guidance, and means to take his or her own life with the intention that they will be used for this purpose. “The word “euthanasia” is somewhat ambiguous and has several possible meaning.

Hence it is appropriate to explain what we mean by the term whenever it is used. For the purpose of this assignment, euthanasia will mean the act of ending the life of a person from compassionate motives, when he is already terminally ill or, when his suffering has become unbearable” Euthanasia is the intentional premature termination of another person's life either by direct intervention (active euthanasia) or by withholding life-prolonging measures and resources (passive euthanasia), either at theexpress or implied request of that person (voluntary euthanasia), or in the absence of such approval (non-voluntary euthanasia).

Involuntary euthanasia - where the individual wishes to go on living - is aneuphemism for murder. Passive euthanasia is usually defined as withdrawing medical treatment with a deliberate intention ofcausing the patient's death. For example, if a patient requires kidney dialysis to survive, not giving dialysisalthough the machine is available, is passive euthanasia. Similarly, if a patient is in coma or on a heart lungmachine, withdrawing of the machine will ordinarily result in passive euthanasia.

Similarly not giving lifesaving medicines like antibiotics in certain situations may result in passive euthanasia. Denying food to a person in coma may also amount to passive euthanasia. Euthanasia and Suicide were clearly defined in the case NareshMarotraoSakhre v. Union of India J. Lodha stated- “Suicide by its very nature is an act of self-killing or self-destruction, an act of terminatingone’s own act and without the aid or assistance of any other human agency while Euthanasia or mercy killingon the other hand implies the intervention of other human agency to end the life.

Mercy killing is therefore notsuicide and an attempt at mercy killing is not covered by the provisions of Section 309. The two concepts areboth factually and legally distinct. Euthanasia or mercy killing is nothing but homicide whatever thecircumstances in which it is performed. ” Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code1860, punishes a person convicted of attempting to commit suicide. There had been difference of opinion on the justification of this provision to continue on the Statute Book. The question came for consideration for first time before the High Court of BombayinState of Maharashtra v.

MarutiSripatiDubal. In this case the Bombay High Court heldthat the right to life guaranteed under Article 21 includes right to die, and the Hon’ble High Court struck down Section 309 of the IPC which provides punishment for attempt to commit suicide by a person as unconstitutional. Further in ChennaJagadeeswar v. State of A. P. , the Andhra Pradesh High Court held that the right to die is not a fundamental right under Art. 21 and hence Section 309 of I. P. C is not unconstitutional. In P. Rathinam v.

Union of Indiaa Division Bench of the Supreme Court,supporting the decision of the High Court of Bombay in MarutiSripatiDubal Case, heldthat under Article 21 right to life also include right to die and laid down that section 309 of Indian Penal Court which deals with ‘attempt to commit suicide is a penal offence’ unconstitutional. A five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court in GianKaur v. State ofPunjab,overruled the decision of the Division Bench in the above stated case and has putan end to the controversy and ruled that Section 309 of IPC was neither violative of Article 21nor Article 14.

The court held that the “right to life” under Article 21 did not include “the right to die. ” As observed by Justice J. S. Verma :“Any aspect of life which makes it dignified may be read into Article 21 of the Constitution but not that which extinguishes it and is therefore inconsistent with the continued existence of life resulting in effacing the right itself”. ‘Right to life’ is a natural right embodied in Art. 21 but suicide is an unnatural termination or extinction of life and, incompatible and inconsistent with the concept of ‘right to life’.

Referring to the protagonists of euthanasia’s view that existence in persistent vegetative state was not a benefit to the patient of terminal illness being unrelated to the principle of ‘sanctity of life’ or to the ‘right to live with dignity’ the Court said that this argument was of no assistance to determine the scope of Article 21 of the Constitution for deciding whether the guarantee of ‘right to life’ therein includes the ‘right to die’. The Court made it clear that the ‘right to life’ including the right to live with human dignity would mean the existence of such right upto the end of natural life.

This also includes the right to a dignified life upto the point of death including a dignified procedure of death. This may include the right of a dying man to also die with dignity when his life is ebbing out. But the ‘right to die’, with dignity at the end of life is not to be confused with the ‘right to die’ an unnatural death curtailing the natural span of life. The court reiterated that the argument to support the views of permitting termination of life in such cases (dying man who is terminally ill or in a vegetative state) by accelerating the process of natural death when it was certain and imminent was not available to interpret Art. 1 to include therein the right to curtail the natural span of life.

ARUNA RAMCHANDRA SHANBAUG v. UNION OF INDIA Recently,Passive euthanasia has been made legal in India. On 7 March 2011 the Supreme Court of India legalised passive euthanasia by means of the withdrawal of life support to patients in a permanent vegetative state. The decision was made as part of the verdict in a case involving ArunaShanbaug, who has been in a vegetative state for 37 years at King Edward Memorial Hospital. Facts: Aruna Ramachandra Shanbaug was a staff Nurse workingin King Edward Memorial Hospital, Parel, Mumbai.

On the evening of 27th November, 1973 she was attackedby a sweeper in the hospital who wrapped a dog chain around her neck and yanked her back with it. He triedto rape her but finding that she was menstruating, he sodomized her. To immobilize her during this act hetwisted the chain around her neck. The next day on 28th November, 1973 at 7. 45 a. m. a cleaner found herlying on the floor with blood all over in an unconscious condition. It is alleged that due to strangulation by thedog chain the supply of oxygen to the brain stopped and the brain got damaged.

She was bed ridden for past 37 years. The Court rejected active euthanasia by means of lethal injection. In the absence of a law regulating euthanasia in India, the court stated that its decision becomes the law of the land until the Indian parliament enacts a suitable law. Active euthanasia, including the administration of lethal compounds for the purpose of ending life, is still illegal in India, and in most countries. While rejecting Pinki Virani's plea for Aruna Shanbaug's euthanasia, the court laid out guidelines for passive euthanasia.

According to these guidelines, passive euthanasia involves the withdrawing of treatment or food that would allow the patient to live. As India had no law about euthanasia, the Supreme Court's guidelines are law until and unless Parliament passes legislation. The following guidelines were laid down: 1. A decision has to be taken to discontinue life support either by the parents or the spouse or other close relatives, or in the absence of any of them, such a decision can be taken even by a person or a body of persons acting as a next friend. It can also be taken by the doctors attending the patient.

However, the decision should be taken bona fide in the best interest of the patient. 2. Even if a decision is taken by the near relatives or doctors or next friend to withdraw life support, such a decision requires approval from the High Court concerned. 3. When such an application is filed the Chief Justice of the High Court should forthwith constitute a Bench of at least two Judges who should decide to grant approval or not. A committee of three reputed doctors are to be nominated by the Bench who will give report regarding the condition of the patient.

Before giving the verdict a notice regarding the report should be given to close relatives and the State. After hearing the parties, the High Court can give its verdict. CONCLUSION Euthanasia, too, is a controversial subject, not only becausethere are many different moral dilemmas associatedwith it, but also in what constitutes its definition. Atthe extreme ends of disagreement, advocates sayeuthanasia, also known as physician aid in dying, orphysician assisted suicide, is a merciful method of death. At the other end are opponents of euthanasia, who mayconsider this method as a form of murder.

After the detailstudy of various states legislations and the detail study ofthe cases, still the matteris a question of debate that whether Euthanasia is asuicide or dignified end of life. Many state legalize Euthanasiabut in the high profile state as well as in IndiaEuthanasia is not permitted even after their broaderverdict that right to life means dignified life and this rightto life include dignified end of life too. To provide an ultimate healing touch for the dying, thelogical, the common sense, the compassionate approachfor Euthanasia can be legalized by the interference of lawand legislation for the permissive Euthanasia society.

And so far as the misuse is concern it is known that everyboon possesses some curse, even Code of MedicalEthics (Sec. 33 of Indian Medical council Act 1956) mayalso be treated as a safeguard while legalize Euthanasia as a safeguard for the curse. Thus this right to dignified end of life should bebestowed upon the individuals, family, physicians and thesociety at large with necessary dogmatic mechanism. Adecision in time can avoid torment to the dying, canrelease recourses to save other retrievable lives andavert emotional and fiscal agony to the survivors.

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Does Right to Life Include Right to Die ?. (2018, Sep 22). Retrieved from

Does Right to Life Include Right to Die ?
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