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Euthanasia: An Apprehensive Approach of Life in Death

Urvi Yadav is law student at Maharishi Law School, Maharishi University of Information Technology, Noida

Published onMar 01, 2021
Euthanasia: An Apprehensive Approach of Life in Death


We are inherited by some fundamental rights, the moment we become a part of this world i.e., when we are born and these fundamental rights include “Right to life”. When we say, we have right to life, it automatically means we have “Right to die” because we are the owners of our own life. We must have the right to decide what to do with our lives. The constitution of India offers some basic freedoms to all the citizens of India.  Article 12 to 35 contained in Part III of the Constitution deals with Fundamental Rights. One of the important rights of the constitution is Article 21 which deals with Protection of life and personal Liberty. According to Article 21, a person has the right to lead a meaningful and dignified life.It prevents a citizen’s personal freedom and deprivation of life except according to procedure by law or any kind of restrictions by a State. But if there’s a man who’s seriously ill and is suffering from an incurable disease he may be permitted to terminate by a premature extinction of his life in those circumstances. This category of case may fall within ambit of RIGHT.

The word EUTHANASIA, originated in Greek means ‘A Good Death’. There are two types of Euthanasia, Passive Euthanasia and Active Euthanasia. In India, after several requests from patients suffering from terminal medical conditions government of India has legalized PASSIVE EUTHANASIA. Since March 2018, Passive Euthanasia is legal in India under strict guidelines. Supreme Court allows Passive Euthanasia as the ruling says that in a case, where a person forms his living will refusing his treatment in case of coma, terminal illness or if he’s in a vegetative condition, it also states that a person has Right to die with dignity but only under strict guidelines. . Similarly, everyone has RIGHT TO LIFE WITH DIGNITY.

In this paper, I have dealt with the fundamental rights along with the right to die along with different constitutional provisions and other such relevant points like personal opinion along with other legal provisions and such points which are directly or indirectly related to my topic.

Keywords- Fundamental Rights, Euthanasia, Legal Provisions.


Everyone has the right to survive and live according to his/her choice. The moment we are born, we get some liberty and freedom. We have the charge of our own lives; we know what to do, how to do and when to do. This is our life; we must be given the chance to decide and take decisions for our own sake. We must be given the charge of our destiny. ARTICLE 21 of the Indian constitution talks about RIGHT TO LIFE. Wherein, RIGHT TO DIE will also be imbibed as well.


Indian Constitution says that “No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty, except according to procedure established by law”.1

In simple words, we can say that a person has complete viability over his/her biological existence. He is the sole owner of his life and he has full command to lead his life according to his/her own choice. No person will be devoid of his life or freedom except for certain conditions imposed by law. Everyone is born free and the law guarantees this freedom to survive freely in the society. No one has the right to seize or forfeit any other person’s life. This article clearly delineates that, ‘right to live not merely pertains to a person’s physical existence but also assures him/her to lead a dignified life i.e., to lead his/her life in a respectful way’.2

Right to live not only limits to animal or physical existence but extends to leading a respectful way of life, it also means that no one can harm or damage another person physically in any way i.e., by any arms or surgery. Everyone has the right to enjoy his life. It is quite evident that right to live includes leading a respectful life and availability of all the basic needs i.e., food, shelter, clothing, facilities and forms of various types of expressions. It means that everyone has right to fulfil his/her basic needs and freedom to express himself/herself in various forms whether it is oral or written. Every person has the right to enjoy his/ her freedom and move freely and thus, mix up with other individuals in the society.3 Hence, we may conclude that it is the MAGNA CARTA to lead one’s life with dignity and freedom in a democratic country.

Article 21 implies to natural human beings. It can be claimed by every person, citizens, alien or even a foreigner. Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security. Right to life is the most crucial of all the fundamental right whereas, all the other rights add quality to life. No other right has value in the absence of this right. There are several rights that lay shelter under the canopy of Article 21. These substantive rights are right to live with human dignity, right to livelihood, right to health, right to pollution free air, etc. Thus, right to life pertains to basic needs that are essential to lead a dignified life and is associated with providing circumstances for quality of life.

The Supreme Court has observed that the right to life included the right to live a healthy life. It is enjoyed by a person through all faculties of human body in their prime conditions. It also assures the conditions necessary for a meaningful life as it extends the right to protection of a person’s tradition, culture and heritage. It includes the right to live in peace, to sleep in peace and the right to repose and health.4

Article 21 expands further and provides some other rights as listed below:5

  • The right to go abroad

  • The right to privacy

  • The right to education

  • The right against solitary confinement

  • The right against hand cuffing

  • The right against delayed execution

  • The right to shelter

  • Right to livelihood

  • Right to health and medical aid

  • The right against custodial death

  • The right against public hanging

  • Doctors assistance

In addition to these, the court has included many of the non -justifiable Directive Principles of Part -IV of the constitution. They are as follows: -

  • Right to pollution free water and air

  • Protection of under-trial

  • Right of every child to a full development

  • Protection of cultural heritage


The term “personal liberty” is explained in a wider sense by Supreme Court. It does not merely pertain to physical arrest or confinement of a person by wrongful means or freedom from bars of prison but it extends to various types of rights that ensure a person’s freedom. There are different aspects of personal freedom as illustrated below: -

  1. Right to Privacy

Right to privacy is not a fundamental right but it is an integral part of personal liberty. The Supreme court has accepted a limited fundamental right to privacy under Articles 19(1) (a) (d) and 21.6 It is a right to be let alone, though right to privacy is not an absolute right and it can be restricted for prevention of crime, disorder or protection of health or morals or protection of rights and freedom of others.7 Phone tapping is a violation of Right to privacy. Phone tapping can be done if it is necessary in public interest or security of state.8

The court held that it is a violation of Right to privacy to conduct matrimonial proceedings in camera. It is the rightful claim of a person to determine the limit to which he/she wishes to share himself/herself with others. It is also up to him/her to have control over time, place and situations to communicate with others.

  1. Right to go to Abroad

Supreme Court has included right to travel abroad in the expression “Personal liberty” within the meaning of Article 21.9 Later, it was held that a procedure established by law was required, if a person is deprived of his/her personal liberty which is included in right to travel abroad. This procedure should not be unfair or unreasonable.10

  1. Right against illegal detention

The Supreme Court has laid down guidelines for arrest of a person during investigation as given below: 11

  • An arrested person being held in custody is entitled to have a friend, relative or other person told as far as practicable that he has been detained and where he has been arrested; if he requests.

  • The police officer shall inform the arrested person about when he is brought to police station of this right.


The right to life and personal liberty12 does not include extinction of life. This ruling came by a full Bench of court. The court was to examine whether the attempt to commit suicide is void and unconstitutional vis-à-vis Article 21. The court put an end to this controversy and held that Article 21 guarantees the protection of life and personal liberty; and therefore, extinction of life cannot be included in it.13


The term Euthanasia comes from two ancient Greek words: ‘Eu’ means ‘Good’ and ‘Thanatos’ means ‘Death’. Euthanasia means an act or practice of ending the life of a person who is suffering from a terminal illness and incurable condition by an injection or by suspending extraordinary medical life support system to liberate him from intolerable pain or from terminal illness. This is also known as “Mercy Killing”. It is to avoid suffering which is intolerable and ending his/her life in peaceful and easy way. Euthanasia implies to ensure a person lives as well as dies with dignity.

Supreme Court has distinguished between Euthanasia and attempt to commit suicide. The court held that this may fall within the sphere of Right to live with human dignity up to the end of natural life. This includes right to die with dignity when a person is in agony. In a suicide, a man voluntarily kills himself by stabbing or administering poison etc. In euthanasia, a third person is involved actively or passively helping to end his/her life14.


Euthanasia can be categorised according to consent into three categories:


When a person has requested to be killed, and helps the person to end the life peacefully. It is also known as Physician-assisted suicide (PAS). In this, a person voluntarily refuses to eat or drink or also called VSED. Voluntary euthanasia can only be conducted with consent. A doctor is assisted by the respective country’s government according to their laws to end the life in a painless manner after the patient and his family agrees. Voluntary euthanasia is currently legal in Belgium, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Switzerland, and the states of Oregon and Washington in the U.S.


When a person is unable to request or give his consent, being in coma or we can say the person is in vegetative state or is a young child. Also, Non-voluntary euthanasia is included in the cases like if a person is mentally retarded to a severe extent, senile or if a person’s brain is severely damaged.


When a person gives his consent for not to be killed or when he’s not in a situation to give his consent in favour or against the decision of premature death, or when he is in a stable condition but he’s not given the charge to decide that whether he wants to die or not.

Euthanasia can be divided into two kinds according to means of death: -

  1. Active Euthanasia

Active euthanasia is the direct action to end sufferings of a person from incurable disease. It is quick mode of causing death. All modes of active euthanasia are illegal in India. Active euthanasia can be given by a lethal dose or a drug or by giving a lethal injection. One of the reasons of active euthanasia being illegal in India is, because it is morally and ethically wrong according to the ethics of Indian culture and its religious believes. It greatly impacts on the sentiments of the people.

  1. Passive Euthanasia

Passive euthanasia is the indirect action to end the sufferings of a person from incurable disease. It is known as “Negative” or “Non-Aggressive” Euthanasia. It implies through not providing essential needs or care such as food and water. It implies to removing or withdrawing artificial life support system. It is slower and uncomfortable than active euthanasia. Since March 2018, Passive euthanasia is legal in India only under the strict guidelines by the law. Essentials for passive euthanasia are: Person should give his/her consent through living will. A person must be terminally ill or should be in a vegetative state.


Supreme Court ruled that every individual has “Right to die with human dignity” and allowed passive euthanasia under strict guidelines. Supreme Court permitted withdrawal of life by terminating the treatment of the patients those who are not in a condition to make a wise decision for themselves. It was the first time, when Apex court recognised that there should be a respectful way to end a person’s life if he/she is not living a dignified life (Aruna was in a vegetative state for 42 years). In 2018, Passive euthanasia was allowed by the Supreme Court and introduced a concept of “Living Will” which should be made by the terminally-ill patients or people who are in a vegetative state for passive euthanasia according to the guidelines.15

For Euthanasia

  1. One can decide whether to live or die, one must be given the right to decide what one wants to do with one’s life.

  2. When a person’s life becomes a load due to physical illness and it becomes tough to survive due to unbearable pain.

  3. With increasing population number of patients suffering from many types of incurable diseases are also increasing due to which beds are not available to others. Unnecessarily, keeping those people on life support systems who don’t have a chance to survive, doesn’t yield good result. If they want to die peacefully, they should be permitted so that others who have the chance to survive, may save their lives.

Against Euthanasia

  1. It’s against the oath which doctors have sworn, that they won’t take part in killing of people and give their best to save a person’s life.

  2. Sometimes it’s not clear whether the person wants to end his life on his own or someone else’s taking a decision on his account. Due to his condition, he may not be able to give his consent, which may result into murders sometimes.

  3. If we see from human perspective, helping a person who is suffering from intolerable pain may be right but according to Hindu perspective of life or religion, ending someone’s life unnaturally is interference in the will of God as well as obstructing natural discourse of death and rebirth.


In this research paper, I have tried to illustrate my perspective on one of the most debated issues in the world EUTHANASIA. Concept of euthanasia can be best understood in the light of right to live along with right to dignity and personal liberty (Article 21). If a person has right to live life according to his/her choice, he/she should also be allowed to end his/her life in unavoidable conditions i.e. when he/she is suffering from an incurable disease. Thus, legally he/she may be allowed to terminate his/her life to put an end to intolerable pain. No doubt, human life is a gift of God and therefore, every human being should live life with dignity.


A person should be allowed ‘Assisted Dying’ to put an end to ordeal he/she is undergoing. He/she should be given a choice to decide and control his/her death, when the physical and mental pain becomes unendurable. When desire or will to live dies, a chance should be given to end the sufferings once for all rather than dying every single moment till God bless you with death. Euthanasia is a boon for such a person whose life is a living hell.

I, strongly support assisted dying; laws should be changed while considering people who are living through hell. It is a painless (passive euthanasia) way to give someone relief from such a life which has become a burden to live with. It can be easily done by terminating the treatment or withdrawing the life support system. Its better to allow them die rather than giving an artificial life. Due to so many sufferings in life people go in depression which makes their conditions worst.

To conclude, I would reiterate that euthanasia is a good way to alleviate someone from unbearable pain under proper assistance. If we say, we have right to live life with human dignity; we should also be given the right to die with dignity. It should be our decision whether we want this life or not in such a condition when we feel like we have been cursed.

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