RIP Aruna Shanbaug …..Euthanasia debate reignited

Aruna Ramachandra Shanbaug was brutally assaulted by a sweeper ward boy in King Edward Memorial hospital where she worked. She was in permanent vegetative state since 1973. Aruna was looked after by the  KEM hospital staff nurses. After 42 years, she died in coma.

Euthanasia is nothing but an act of ending a  patient’s life on his or her request or by the Next Friend depending on the circumstances. Next Friend could be  parents, spouse, relatives or may be close friend or care taker. In layman terms, Euthanasia is mercy killing or on legal note right to die but sharply different from the Suicide

Supreme Court Bench Justice Katju and Mishra in 2011 allowed the Passive Euthanasia on petition of Pinki Virani who penned the  “Aruna’s Story” about her life after the accident. Pinki Virani demanded Active euthanasia but that was turned down in favor of Passive Euthanasia. Finally on the request of KEM hospital Staff Nurses, Court didn’t allow the Passive Euthanasia for the Aruna Shanbaug.


A file photo of Nurses at the KEM Hospital having background poster of Aruna Shanbaug who died on May 18, 2015.(Photo: Abhijit Bhatlekar/Mint)

Aruna’s death has reignited the debate over Euthanasia. So why  Should not the death of Aruna be turning point in framing the Active legislation about euthanasia?

Is  the Right to die is natural right ?Life is so sacrosanct, so is it right to end one’s life unnaturally?

Supreme Court  of India has laid down the well-defined guidelines required to be followed for Consideration of Euthanasia Plea.

Legal guardian or Next friend can decide  wthether to adopt Passive euthanasia for the patient. It Must be approved by High Court . Then ,Court shall constitute a bench of 2 judges and Nominate the  Panel of 3 doctors. Court shall take the final decision based on Panel’s Report.

Pro-euthanasia arguments are based on principles of practical life.

One has the right to life, thereby, has the right to die. Since,  it is personal matter and, one has a right to choose in his or her interest, Euthanasia is ethical. It also limits the scarce health resources. It provides a pathway to a person to free oneself from the life suffering and intense pain.

On the other hand, Anti Euthanasia arguments are majorly driven by theologian view.

Majority of religions is against Euthanasia. There is no unanimous view on Hinduism. Most believe that it is an act  against the nature, but some believe ending someone’s life, full of suffering, is a good deed. However in Ancient text  there is a mention of word Prayopavesa, or fasting to death, which is an  acceptable way for Hindus to end their life in certain circumstances.

Buddhism  Ahimsa based Principles are  against the mercy killing because they believe Life is So  sacrosanct that no body can take away the life of his own or other. Most Christians are also  against it and say that taking someone’s life is interference with natural Law. Muslim are clearly against the Euthanasia and implicitly mentioned in  quranic verses. Jains who are  generally against any type of Jeev Hatya gave consent to passive euthanasia under certain circumstances. However Jainism Propagates the idea of Sallekhana(Fast unto death).

I think despite the fact that life is sacred,one should consider the pain and suffering of an individual. Word “Life” in Article 21 of the constitution doesn’t  merely imply a survival rather living a life of dignity, and implicitly mentions that depriving a person of his life must be adhered with  Strong valid reason. Euthanasia should be allowed only under the special circumstances as advocated by the Apex court. In my opinion, unbearable Suffering  both emotionally and  physically isn’t a Right  way of living.

                         “To Live with Dignity,To Die with Dignity”






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