Tia Jose and Keshavedev J.S. analyse India’s position on Euthanasia and the changes required.

Abstract

The uncertainty that is looming large over India’s stand on euthanasia can be settled only by enacting a statute regarding the same as well as by revising certain existing laws. Decriminalizing of attempt to commit suicide, though believed to provide impetus to the call for formulation of a euthanasia regime in the country, will remain ineffective with regard to the same as long as Section 306 dealing with abetment of suicide is not altered. Almost four years after the judgement in Aruna Ramachandra Shanbaug v. Union of India and Others, Euthanasia is still unchartered territory for the Indian Parliament. Can we wait any longer, or rather, should we wait any longer? Increase in the number of euthanasia petitions across the country point towards the shift in the general mentality towards euthanasia. Drawing inspiration from the recent developments in foreign jurisdictions, a comprehensive legislation must be drafted, settling the issue once and for all. It is high time we put our moral reservations on euthanasia behind us and start viewing death as an inevitable biological function. In the wake of stronger and more urgent demand from the public for a detailed legislation on euthanasia, the Parliament is deliberating on the matter and has also called for the opinion of each State. While drafting this would-be iconic statute, the Legislature must not ignore the fact that the Shanbaug judgement, in spite of laying down several guidelines, does not cover the finer aspects of euthanasia. It is these finer aspects that this paper seeks to discuss. The fact that Euthanasia requires two consulting adults, the patient and the Doctor, remains ignored, and concentration on the implications to the patient alone precludes any objective analysis of Euthanasia legislation. The social relevance quotient associated with euthanasia being high, the Parliament must ensure that the imminent legislation reaches the grass root level so as to include all affected parties within the loop.