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Euthanasia and all that we should know.

EUTHANASIA and all that we should know. The meaning of euthanasia is the painless killing of a patient who is suffering from an incurable and afflictive disease or is in an irreversible coma. In one word the meaning of this word is ‘mercy killing’ or ‘assisted suicide’.   SUPREME COURT JUDGEMENTS The Apex Court in 2011 had recognised passive euthanasia in the Aruna Ramchandra Shanbaug Vs Union of India & Ors (on 7march, 2011) case by which it had permitted withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment from patients not in a position to make an informed decision. The bench was hearing a PIL filed by NGO COMMON CAUSE, saying safeguards were needed while taking a decision by medical boards to withdraw life support of a terminally-ill patient. The Supreme Court of India recognised a “living will” (meaning, a written statement detailing a person's desires regarding future medical treatment in circumstances in which they are no longer able to express informed consent, especially an advance directive.) made by terminally-ill patients (meaning, persons who are suffering from an incurable disease that cannot be adequately treated and is reasonably expected to result in the death of the patient eventually.) for Passive Euthanasia. A five-judge Constitution bench headed by the Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Mishra stated that passive euthanasia and advance living will are “permissible”. The bench, also comprising justices A. K. Sikri, A. M. Khanwilkar, D. Y. Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan, also laid down guidelines as to who would execute the will and how the nod for passive euthanasia would be granted by the Medical Board. The Apex Court said advance directives for terminally-ill patients could be issued and executed by the next friend and relatives of such person after which a medical board would consider it. The Apex Court stated that the directions and guidelines laid down by it and its directive shall remain in force till a legislation is brought on the issue. The CJI, while reading out the judgement, said though there were four separate opinions of the bench, all the judges were unanimous that the “living will” should be permitted since a person cannot be allowed to continue suffering in a comatose state when he or she doesn’t wish to live. On January 15, 2016, the Centre had said that the 241st report of the Law Commission stated that passive euthanasia should be allowed with certain safeguards and there was also a proposed Law-Medical Treatment of Terminally Ill Patient (Protection of Patients and Medical Practitioners) Bill 2006. On March 9, 2018, Friday, in the case of Aruna Ramchandra Shanbaug Vs Union of India & Ors (on 7march, 2011), the Apex Court has allowed a living will and passive euthanasia. It has held the right to die with dignity is an inextricable facet of Article 21 of the Constitution. It further said that an adult human having mental capacity to take an informed decision has the right to refuse medical treatment including withdrawal from life-saving therapy.   The latest developments on the issue of Euthanasia: Passive euthanasia is when medical treatment is withdrawn with the deliberate intention to hasten the death of a terminally ill patient. The “living will” authorises patients to give explicit instructions in advance about the medical treatment to be administered when they are terminally ill or no longer able to express informed consent. A person suffering from terminal illness has the right to refuse medical treatment to avoid “protracted physical suffering”, said the judgement peppered with quotes of writers and philosophers. Passive euthanasia will apply only to a terminally ill person with no hope of recovery, the judges said that the issued guidelines would be in place until a law is enacted. To consent a living will, a family member or a friend can go to the High Court, which will ask a Medical Board to decide if Passive euthanasia is needed. The Chief Justice of India, while reading out the judgement, said that though there were four separate opinions of the bench, all the judges were unanimous that the “living will” should be permitted since a person cannot be allowed to continue suffering in a comatose state when he or she does not wish to live. A national debate over the legalisation of euthanasia revolved around Aruna Shanbaug, a nurse who spent 42 years in vegetative state after a brutal rape in 1973 and died in 2015. Though the Supreme Court in 2011 rejected a petition to stop the force-feeding of Aruna Shanbaug, it allowed “passive euthanasia” for the first time and said that life support could be legally removed for some terminally ill patients. “This is an historic decision which clears the air,” said by Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan. “Everybody will breathe a sigh of relief, because people were earlier apprehensive that if they withdrew life support, they could be prosecuted for culpable homicide,” he added. Active Euthanasia, by administering a lethal injection, remains illegal in India.   A critique of this change regarding Euthanasia The recent legalisation of Passive Euthanasia has become the most discussed topic in the country. From a critique’s view I can find some Pros and Cons about Passive Euthanasia. They are stated below: PROs Passive Euthanasia gives the right to a terminally-ill adult to make an informed decision whether that person wants to be diagnosed or terminate the treatment and die without any more suffering. It provides a way to relieve extreme pain and also it is a way of relieve for a person whose quality of life is low. It is another case of freedom of choice and also it frees up medical funds to help other people. CONs The history of the law’s treatment of assisted suicide in this country has been and continues to be one of the rejection of nearly all efforts to permit it. That being the case, our decisions lead us to conclude that the asserted ‘right’ to assistance in committing suicide is not a fundamental liberty interest protected by Due Process Clause. Doctors must not engage in assisting suicide. They are inheritors of valuable tradition that inspires public trust. Nothing that is remotely beneficial to some particular patient in extremist is worth that damage that will be created by the perception that physicians sometimes aid and even abet people in taking their own lives. The greatest harm that a doctor can do is to consign a desperate patient to unbearable suffering or force the patient to seek out of such suffering permitting a physician assisted suicide would lead patients to distrust their doctors. If we are to remain consistence and we believe that individual has the right to dispose of their life, we should not erect artificial barriers. This would mean so called “Peaceful Pill” should be available in the supermarket so that those old enough to understand death could obtain death peacefully at the time of their choosing.  

Posted By

Purbasha Roy

1 year ago

Right to privacy – can it be an absolute right?

Let me begin with the disclaimer that there’s nothing legal in this blog. As we develop into more modern civilization we start becoming more complex although we keep harping that we are trying to make life and living simple.  We want absolute right of freedom of speech and expression at one end of the wanting stick and absolute “discretionary” privacy at the other end of the stick. Why discretionary, because it depends on my choice when to exercise it and when not to. Ok so by asking for right to privacy, we are trying make North and South meet. Will we succeed? Let’s find out.   Basically, we all are animals; hence it makes it makes lot of sense to start from the basics. In the animal kingdom, the right of privacy is exercised by making a demarcation by the animals. And how do animals do that? By urinating and leaving potty marks. And bingo, the other animals (of the same species usually) do respect that and do not try to invade the territory so marked. So, the privacy rights do exist as per the jungle laws.  We humans, as we became less animalistic (more is few cases), started to build societies to have more securities, especially the group security,  security from wild animals, natural disasters, security for food as collectively we could procure more and save more. The wise men understood that if human species has to survive it has got only one way and that is to live as one unit. Well, it is fine to stay as one unit then but then it has its own costs. When the inter-dependency increases, the sharing goes up. And you share not only the food but your home (cave initially), your rituals, stories, pains and personal space too. So, as we started becoming more, so called, civilized we agreed in principle to let our privacy go away as we bargained better comforts of life for privacy. We all were leading a happy life until Europe became more civilized and invented language, writing language. As the fate would have it, during the chilly winters of Europe when one can’t do anything, they started writing on matters which were important, sometimes, and on matters which merely served the fantasies of the writers from the civilized world.  Ironically, when nothing can be fertile during the icy winter, the human mind has weird powers to become fertile. And not to forget, the whisky makes it ‘more’ versatile. Thanks to European winters and whisky that we got the revolutionary idea of human rights and rights related to being a human. (It’s my one of the favourites that some human comes and talks about my human rights. I wish some alien or may be a god would have told that.) Anyways, with industrialization human society got food security and security from animals hence they started desiring something special. That special was “right to privacy”. Great, I like that as a concept but find it to be a fallacy at the core of it. I do not want people to know how do I wash my clothes but want to flash the brand of underwear that I am wearing. I don’t want anyone to notice me when I am moving on the street but want to drive the loudest bike in the city. I don’t want anyone to peep into my car unless I have some good-looking co-passengers in it. I don’t want anyone to say a word to me but desire for thousand likes on the photo that I share on social media. I don’t anyone to peep into my bedroom and find out what pajama I am wearing but don’t you forget to comment on the beach dress that I am wearing in the photo. The second part of fallacy. The government agencies know everything about us. They take away our hard earned and private money as taxes, but can we say anything against it.  Please don’t get flabbergasted, to some money matters are quite private and equivalent to right to privacy. There are three entities who know everything about us. One the government agencies, two the internet and third the next door neighbour. There is no secret that one can hide because one or the other entity knows about it. And not to forget the CCTV cameras who is the biggest “know it all” guy. The third part of fallacy is that by asking for absolute privacy rights we are trying to make the poles meet which cannot happen.  Privacy as a concept has been developed on the basis of gender, religion, community, geography and climate.  And unless there is uniformity we cannot have one shirt fits all policies. Privacy as a matter of right has many shades of sensitivity. What may be private to you may not be to me and vice and versa. The mute question remains open that how do we grant absolute value to something when at the very core of it, it is supposed to be relative. And since right to privacy is relative in nature, I guess, right to privacy cannot be an absolute right.        

Posted By

admin

1 year ago

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About the Human Rights


Human rights are the inalienable fundamental rights to the very aspect of distinguishing a human from other animals. These rights are indispensable to the value of humanity.

The Founding Fathers of the Indian Constitution had a vision of the Indian society, which they acknowledged through the Constitution. That vision was principally reflected in the Preamble, the sections on Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy is the result of human rights development in the nation. It is the obligation of the State to ensure what is said in the Constitution. However, the stunning confirmation that the State is itself the guilty party, as indicated by Mr. J.S. Verma, the previous executive of the NHRC. As indicated by an announcement made by him on Jan. 15, 2003: It is frequently the State which is violator of Human Rights in most extreme cases in the nation. In any case, the most extreme obligation to ensure and shield the privileges of its natives likewise lies with the State

India became independent a year before the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The specialised statue for the purpose of upholding human rights in India is the Human Rights Act 1993. Apart from this statute, other provisions and principles are also applicable, some of the basic human rights are recognised in the Indian Constitution as fundamental rights. Dr. Justice Durga Das Basu defined human rights as those minimal rights which every individual must have against the State, or other public authority, by virtue of his being a ‘member of human family’ irrespective of any consideration.

Some examples of the Constitutional provisions safeguarding the human rights in India can be Article 19 which provides for basic freedoms. Then Article 21 which provides the right to life, and so on. Article 32 is particularly very important. Article 32 provides for the Constitutional Remedies, under which, one can move the Supreme Court for the enforcement of the Fundamental Rights and this provision itself is made one of the Fundamental rights.

India also follows certain international convention, treaties, and guidelines to safeguard Human Rights.

Some important areas under Human Rights law


The Supreme court decided these areas in favour of Human rights:

  • Constitution Rights
  • Child Labour
  • Gender Based violence and Sexual Harassment
  • Literate Candidates in Panchayat
  • Recognizing the third gender - Transgender
  • Illegal Mining
  • Equal Guardianship rights for mothers and fathers
  • Striking down 66A of the Information Technology Act which was against the Constitution.

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