Jean-Luc Godard one of the legends of French New Wave cinema, died earlier this week by assisted suicide at the age of 91.
GS II: Health
Dimensions of the Article:
- What are assisted suicide and euthanasia?
- Does India allow assisted suicide or euthanasia?
- Which are the recent cases dealing with this issue in India?
What are assisted suicide and euthanasia?
- Assisted suicide and euthanasia, both practices under which a person intentionally ends their life with active assistance from others, have long been contentious topics of debate as they involve a complex set of moral, ethical and in some cases, religious questions.
- Several European nations, some states in Australia and Colombia in South America allow assisted suicide and euthanasia under certain circumstances.
- Euthanasia can further be divided into
- Active euthanasia, which is legal in only a few countries, entails the use of substances to end the life of the patient.
- The practice of passive euthanasia involves simply stopping lifesaving treatment or medical intervention with the consent of the patient or a family member or a close friend representing the patient.
Does India allow assisted suicide or euthanasia?
- In a landmark judgment, the Supreme Court of India legalised passive euthanasia in 2018, stating that it was a matter of ‘living will’.
- According to the judgment, an adult in his conscious mind is permitted to refuse medical treatment or voluntarily decide not to take medical treatment to embrace death in a natural way, under certain conditions. In the judgment, the court laid down a set of guidelines for ‘living will’ and defined passive euthanasia and euthanasia as well.
- It also laid down guidelines for ‘living will’ made by terminally ill patients who beforehand know about their chances of slipping into a permanent vegetative state.
- The court specifically stated that the rights of a patient, in such cases, would not fall out of the purview of Article 21 (right to life and liberty) of the Indian Constitution.
Aruna Shanbaug case:
- The SC’s judgment was in accordance with its verdict in March 2011 on a separate plea. While ruling on a petition on behalf of Aruna Shanbaug, the court had allowed passive euthanasia for the nurse who had spent decades in a vegetative state.
- Shanbaug had become central to debates on the legality of right to die and euthanasia in India.
- However, another bench of the Supreme Court, in February 2014, cited inconsistencies in earlier verdicts on passive euthanasia, including the one given in the Shanbaug case, and referred the matter to a Constitution bench.
- Shanbaug died of pneumonia in March 2015 at the age of 66, 42 years of which she had spent in a room at KEM Hospital in Mumbai, after a brutal rape left her in a permanent vegetative state.
Which are the recent cases dealing with this issue in India?
- In 2018, a couple from Mumbai, 88-year-old Narayan Lavate and 78-year-old Iravati Lavate, made headlines when they wrote to then President Ram Nath Kovind, seeking permission for active euthanasia or assisted suicide.
- While neither of them suffered from a life-threatening ailment, the couple stated in their plea that they had lived a happy life and didn’t want to depend on hospitals for old age ailments.
- The letter was forwarded to the Maharashtra government’s chief secretary for consideration but, according to the Lavates, their plea was effectively turned down.
- In a recent case, a woman from Bengaluru moved the Delhi High Court in August this year to stop her Noida-based 48-year-old male friend, who has a debilitating health condition, from travelling to Europe, allegedly to undergo assisted suicide or euthanasia.
- The woman, who has described herself as a close friend of the patient, had pleaded that the man’s parents, family and friends would suffer “irreparable loss” and “hardship” if the plea to halt his travel is not allowed.
- However, the woman withdrew her petition later as it had “deeply traumatised” her friend.
-Source: Indian Express