Euthanasia is defined as an intentional killing by an act or omission of person whose life is felt is not to be worth living. It is also known as ‘Mercy Killing’ which is an act where the individual who is in an irremediable condition or has no chances of survival as he is suffering from painful life, ends his life in a painless manner. It is a gentle, easy and painless death. It implies the procuring of an individual’s death, so as to avoid or end pain or suffering, especially of individuals suffering from incurable diseases. Oxford dictionary defines it as the painless killing of a person who has an incurable disease or who is in an irreversible coma. According to the House of Lords select Committee on Medical Ethics, it is “a deliberate intervention under taken with the express intention of ending life to relieve intractable suffering”. Thus it can be said that Euthanasia is the deliberated and intentional killing of a human being by a direct action, such as lethal injection, or by the failure to perform even the most basic medical care or by withdrawing life support system in order to release that human being from painful life. It is basically to bring about the death of a terminally ill patient or a disabled. It is resorted to so that the last days of a patient who has been suffering from such an illness which is terminal in nature or which has disabled him can peacefully end up his life and which can also prove to be less painful for him. Thus the basic intention behind euthanasia is to ensure a less painful death to a person who is in any case going to die after a long period of suffering. Euthanasia is practiced so that a person can live as well as die with dignity. In brief, it means putting a person to painless death in case of incurable diseases or when life become purpose less or hopeless as a result of mental or physical handicap.
Euthanasia in India
From the moment of his birth, a person is clothed with basic human rights. Right to life is one of the basic as well as fundamental right without which all rights cannot be enjoyed. Right to life means a human being has an essential right to live, particularly that such human being has the right not to be killed by another human being. But the question arises that if a person has a right to live, whether he has a right not to live i.e. whether he has a right to die? Whiling giving this answer, the Indian courts expressed different opinions. In M.S Dubal vs. State of Maharastra, the Bombay High Court held that right to life under article 21 of the Indian Constitution includes ‘right to die’. On the other hand in Chenna Jagadeeswar vs. State of AP, the AP High Court said that right to die is not a fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution. However in P. Rathinam’s case Supreme Court of India observed that the ‘right to live’ includes ‘right not to live’ i.e right to die or to terminate one’s life. But again in Gain Kaur vs. State of Punjab, a five member bench overruled the P.Rathainam’s case and held that right to life under Article 21 does not include Right to die or right to be killed. Right to life’ including the right to live with human dignity would mean the existence of such right up to the end of natural life. This may include the right of a dying man to die with dignity. But the ‘right to die with dignity’ is not to be confused with the ‘right to die’ an unnatural death curtailing the natural span of life. Thus the concept of right to life is central to the debate on the issue of Euthanasia. One of the controversial issues in the recent past has been the question of legalizing the right to die or Euthanasia. Euthanasia is controversial since it involves the deliberate termination of human life. Patient suffering from terminal diseases are often faced with great deal of pain as the diseases gradually worsens until it kills them and this may be so frightening for them that they would rather end their life than suffering...
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