Death is not the opposite of life but a part of it – Haruki Murakani Euthanasia is the highly effective form of pain management which allows assisting people who are suffering from a painful and incurable disease or incapacitating physical disorder or allowing them to die. The concept of Euthanasia, Mercy killing comes from the very belief that losing some faculties are worse than losing one’s life. However, through with the religious belief against premature death and also a moral dilemma in respective to legalising Euthanasia across the globe, but it was considered the best way to go rather see a person degenerating to his fate which is worse than death. Hence, countries across the globe had legalized Euthanasia with strict rules and stringent legal sanctions.


The term Euthanasia has been derived from two Greek words ‘eu’ and ‘thanotos’, which means, “Good death.” The phrase Euthanasia was coined by Sir Francis Bacon. Euthanasia is requesting for the premature ending of life in the plight of suffering terminal illness who undergoes unbearable pain.


The dimension of Euthanasia encompasses from Voluntary Euthanasia: Euthanasia is performed with the patient’s consent. Further, the voluntary euthanasia is of two kinds Active Euthanasia: A person takes action to cause a patient’s death that is where a person intentionally intervenes to end someone’s life with the use of lethal substances or forces. Passive Euthanasia: Death is brought about by withholding or withdrawing treatment to let the person die.

Non-Voluntary Euthanasia:

The person is unable to give their consent as the patient is in a state of coma or are severely brain-damaged and so another person takes the decision on patient’s behalf, often because the ill person might have expressed the wish to end their lives previously in certain circumstances.

Involuntary Euthanasia:

This kind of Euthanasia is administered without asking consent or against the patient’s will. Involuntary Euthanasia is also termed as murder if conducted against the will of the patient.

Assisted Suicide:

Patient is provided help in dying Physician-Assisted Suicide: Doctor assists a patient in shortening their dying process.

The doctrine of Double Effect:

Doctor gives drugs to relieve symptoms even though this may shorten patient’s life.

Indirect Euthanasia:

The treatment provides side effects that would speed up the patient’s death. DNR order: Doctor is not required to resuscitate a patient if their heart stops. A living will: Person decides in advance to refuse life support system in case of a terminal illness.

DNR order:

Doctor is not required to resuscitate a patient if their heart stops.

A living will:

Person decides in advance to refuse life support system in case of a terminal illness.


The subject of euthanasia has spun the world regarding legalising euthanasia. However, only a handful of countries has to grant citizens the right to die in cases of a terminal illness. The debate of legalising euthanasia cuts across complex and dynamic aspects such as legal, ethical, human rights, health, religious, economic, spiritual, social, and cultural aspects of civilised society. In April 2002, it was the Netherlands the first country to legalise euthanasia and assisted suicide. Belgium stood second in the same year and legalised Euthanasia with strict rules that doctor can assist patients to end their lives when they freely express their wish to die if they suffer intractable and unbearable pain and sometimes in a vegetative state.


The issue of Euthanasia rose to prominence in India after Aruna Shanbaug’s case and several other noteworthy cases filing pleas demanding euthanasia but the case of Aruna Shanbaug’s was most alarming as she remained in a persistent vegetative state for 42years since 1973 when she was sexually assaulted. However, in 1996 the Supreme Court in its landmark judgement in the case of Gyan Kaur Vs State of Punjab[1] held that both euthanasia and assisted suicide is not lawful in India and confusingly stated.

“The right to life under 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 imagination can extinction of life be read into it. The right to live with dignity does include the right to die with dignity.” However, the court could not come up with any practical rules and passed the buck to lawmakers to come up with laws regulating euthanasia, and that’s how in 2006 the 196th report of law commission of India had brought out The Medical Treatment of Terminally ill patients (Protection of Patients and Medical practitioners) Bill 2006, but no law was made on euthanasia.


Euthanasia is a form of a merciful killing or peaceful death which has raised significant controversies as for and against it. Nevertheless, despite some potential benefits of this process the analysis of Euthanasia reveals that the society as a whole should exercise some responsibility for such an activity as it is even morally challenging. Hence, it must be used only as a last resort to preserve harmony within the society, when faced with a complex medical, social and legal dilemma. There is also an urgent need to invest in our health care system as ‘Right to health’ is bestowed under ‘Right to life’ of our constitution.

[1] 1996 AIR 946

Categories: law and order

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