EUTHANASIA IN INDIA

Aruna Shanbaug died on 18th May 2015 after spending 42 years in a persistent vegetative state in KEM hospital. She was brutally assaulted, sodomized and choked with a dog chain which cut of oxygen supply to her brain thus putting her in a persistent vegetative state. She was the women who prompted India’s discussion on euthanasia in India. Euthanasia is a procedure of intentionally ending a person’s life to relive a life of pain and suffering. There are different types of euthanasia -Voluntary, Non-voluntary , Non-voluntary, Involuntary, Passive and Active. Voluntary euthanasia means that the process of euthanasia is done with the consent of the patient. It is legal in Belgium, Luxembourg, The Netherlands and Switzerland. Non Voluntary euthanasia is done when the patient is unable to give his/her consent. The consent is given by a person’s close relative or legal guardian. Involuntary euthanasia is done without the consent of the patient or his/her legal guardian. This amounts up to the murder. Passive euthanasia is where a person’s intake of food or treatment is stopped which would eventually lead to a person’s death. Active euthanasia is where a person is given lethal doses of a substance which end a person’s life.
There is a difference between euthanasia and suicide. In suicide, a man purposely ends his own life due to depression or his reasons being failure whereas euthanasia is where a third person ends about a person’s life with the patient’s consent. Euthanasia is complicated with different views form an ethical, moral, law and religion point of view. In India, euthanasia is considered as an illegal practice. In India, there are no laws regarding euthanasia in the IPC. It is considered as suicide, every act which is seen as an act as abetting the act of suicide is punishable under section 306 of IPC. Any physician who has the intention to cause death to a patient can be charged under section 300 of IPC, when there is consent from the legal guardian is present, the physician is charged with homicide not amounting up to murder under part 1 of section 300. Even if euthanasia is done under mercy killing is considered as homicide and any abettors will be charged.
The case of Aruna Shanbaug was a landmark case. Aruna Shanbaug was left in a persistent vegetative state after she was sexually assaulted and sodomized by ward boy Sohanlal Walmiki. She was taken care of by the KEM Hospital nurses. Her next friend which legally means that person who speaks on behalf of someone who is incapacitated. her next of friend Pinki Virani filed a plea to the SC with a plea to stop KEM hospital from force-feeding Aruna Shanbaug. The SC admitted the plea filed by Pinki Virani. the court set up a medical panel to examine. The panel examined and concluded that she met with most of the conditions of being in a persistent vegetative state. But it did not allow mercy killing plea on 7th March 2011. The court in its landmark decision allowed passive euthanasia in India. The court laid down guidelines for passive euthanasia. While India still has to figure out the ethical debate of euthanasia, it had made a stride in its attempt to understand the issue. The Aruna Shanbaug case stands as a landmark judgment for euthanasia.

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