When a person takes their own life, it is referred to as “suicide,” but when another person takes  a life at the deceased’s request, it is referred to as “euthanasia” or “mercy killing.” The  following paper aims to explain what euthanasia is and how it might be used in three different  situations involving a person who has been alive since birth. What was the attitude towards  elimination of life in different religions like Hindu, Muslim, Christian, and Sikh in ancient  cultures of nations like India where the practise of self-destruction was a custom? Although  self-destruction is the goal of both suicide and euthanasia, there is a definite difference between  the two. 

There are five categories in which euthanasia can be categorised, as well as several  applications for it. In addition to them, the legal status of euthanasia in India in light of the  Indian Constitution, Indian Penal Code, and other current laws, as well as the position of  several other nations throughout the world, are all taken into consideration for discussion.  Although the Supreme Court has already made a judgement on this matter, there are still some  questions that need to be thoroughly examined. Finally, both reasons in favour of and against  legalising euthanasia are presented, and this paper concludes with recommendation on passive  euthanasia legality.

“Euthanasia is a topic that taps into deeply personal views of dignity and fear but, mostly,  spirituality”. BY- Elin Hilderbrand,

Key words: Euthanasia, Mercy killing, Suicide, Voluntary euthanasia, Consent for killing,  Passive euthanasia.


In recent times, there has been a lot of progress in the field of medical research and its diverse  domains, which has given rise to new challenges that demands the immediate attention of the  legislators. Euthanasia and its effects on the lives of common people is one such sensitive issue

that is constantly evolving and needs careful consideration. In India, euthanasia involves legal,  moral, and ethical questions, particularly regarding the right to life enshrined in Article 21 of  the Indian Constitution. This right has been held to be the heart of the Constitution, the most  intrinsic and progressive provision in our living constitution, serving as the very foundation of  our laws. It has three important elements, namely life, liberty, and dignity. The right to life  includes right to live with dignity and not just mere physical existence. In this context, dignity  implies propriety i.e a sense that upholds the inherent worth and value as a human being. It  means living a life where individuals are treated with respect and dignity by others, in a manner  that is considerate of their cultural and personal beliefs.

Every humans has an inborn desire to fully embrace life, to cherish every moment and extend  its duration as much as possible. However, often due to external factors or internal struggles,  some situations arises, which eventually become an obstacle in the way of individual that they  aren’t able to count the bountiful fruits of their existence. Such a situation can push the  individual to an extent that people may feel trapped, torn between two equally distressing  options: the agonizing contemplation of suicide which is both morally condemned and legally  prohibited in India, or contemplation of euthanasia, which elicits differing opinions on its  ethical and legal consequences as a means to end their suffering or lives.


This is a form of doctrinal analysis and, thus, secondary research data is studied and critically  analysed. In the study title “LEGALIZATION OF EUTHANASIA & ITS IMPLICATIONS  ON HUMANS”, most appropriate. It is purely an interpretative and analytical study. It is  concerned with the analysis of the legal doctrine and how it was developed and applied.  Qualitative data is used in this research to demonstrate and explain the topic.

In this explanatory research, case studies and laws are also included. Primary resources referred  to in the course of study include books, journals, law reports, cases and other open sources like  articles that were derived from some legit websites that are all mentioned in the references.


The idea of euthanasia introduced a merciful and easy death which is set up beyond natural  death. It involves the intervention of another person to end the life. In a layman’s language,  Euthanasia simply means an easy or painless death, or the intentional ending of the life of a  person suffering from an incurable or painful disease at his or her request. In short, it is the  deliberate act or practice to cause ending someone’s life in order to relieve their suffering or

pain. This method is typically used for individuals who have a terminal illness, a severe and  incurable disease, or are in a persistent vegetative state with constant pain. 

Originally, The term “euthanasia” is derived from the Greek word EUTHANATOS, in which  EU means GOOD and THANATOS means DEATH, putting it together means “Good  Death1”. The concept of euthanasia was first proposed in the early 17th century, by an English  philosopher and politician Sir Francis Bacon, which literally means mercy killing. However,  According to the British House of Lords Select Committee on Medical Ethics2, Euthanasia  is described as “a deliberate intervention undertaken with the express intention of ending a life,  to relieve intractable suffering”. Professor Drape explained that any definition of euthanasia  must have the following four components: an agent, a subject, a purpose, a causal relationship  in which the agent’s actions influence the outcome, and an outcome. She then provided a  definition based on this that included those components, stating that euthanasia “must be  defined as death that results from the intention of one person to kill another person, using the  most gentle and painless means possible, that is motivated solely by the best interests of the  person who dies.” Therefore, the meaning of euthanasia can vary depending on specific nature  and unique application of it. 


Depending on factors such as a person’s perspective, level of consciousness, and degree of  consent or involvement, there are various classifications of euthanasia which are as follows: 1. Voluntary Euthanasia: It is the classification of euthanasia, which occurs when a  competent individual, who is suffering from a terminal illness or intolereable pain,  actively seeks assistance from the doctor to end their life, and the doctor willingly 

1 Kumar A, Mehra A, Avasthi A. Euthanasia: A Debate—For and Against. J Postgrad Med Edu Res 2021;55(2):91– 96, Retrieved on: July 9th, 2023.

2 Mishra Shikha, Singh Veer Uday, “EUTHANASIA AND ITS DESIRABILITY IN INDIA”, Published On: Summer Issue  2020, Retrieved On: July 10th, 2023, Retrieved From:

agrees to provide the necessary support. Here, the sick person and doctor both act  willingly. As this type of euthanasia necessiates the explicit consent of the person  involved. It is regarded as a form of patient autonomy, where individuals have the right  to make decisions about their own life and death. Inshort, such euthanasia is done at the  will of the individual and is legal in India. 

2. Non Voluntary Euthanasia: Non-voluntary euthanasia involves the deliberate ending  of a person’s life without their explicit consent of the sick person. This type of  euthanasia is performed when the decision regarding the premature and merciful death  is made by another person, because the person to be euthanised is unable to express  their wishes due to factors such as coma, severe cognitive impairment, or a life

threatening disease in the new-borns. Non-voluntary euthanasia is often subject to  ethical debates and legal restrictions, as it raises questions about decision-making on  behalf of someone else and is therefore not permitted in India.

3. Active Euthanasia: Active euthanasia is also called “aggressive” euthanasia. In this,  the patient is taken out of his suffering by active means. Active method here means the  intentional administration of a deadly substance or the doing of any action with the  direct intention of causing the death of a person. It may also include the use of drugs or  procedures to actively end a person’s life, but only in response to their explicit request.

4. Passive Euthanasia: Passive euthanasia refers to the withholding or withdrawal of life sustaining treatment or medical interventions with the intention of allowing a natural  death to occur. This can done by cutting off the life support system such as the  discontinuation of ventilators, feeding tubes, or medications that prolong life. Passive  euthanasia is often seen as allowing nature to take its course, rather than actively  causing death. Due to its nature of facilitating a natural death, this approach is  permissible and legally accepted in India.


India has a long history of hotline concerns, that have encouraged the public to voice their  opinions. And India being as a land of diversities, it deeply values the principles of individual  and personal freedom to express one’s beliefs. It is noted that on the concept of euthanasia in  India, many of these people from different religions and sects holds diverse views and beliefs.  However, the idea of right to die or end one’s life is not something new and unknown to the

people of India. Since ancient times, many religious texts including Bible, Quran, Bhagavad  Gita, Rigveda recognize self-destruction or suicide. 

Traditionally, the Hindu Vedic age is replete with many examples of suicides committed on  religious grounds. The sacred texts like Smritis, Shrutis, Vedas, Upanishads, Gita, Mahabharata  and the Ramayana and Puranas etc seems to support euthanasia in the garb of the concept of  self-liberation. It is believed that Lord Ram and his brother Lakshmana took Jal Samadhi in  Surayu River, while Lord Mahavir met his death in search of it. Further, Prayopavesa i.e. fasting  onto death was taken up by the Hindu leader Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami in November  2001. Liberation under Hindu religion is permissible but is restricted as to when it shall be  pursued. Hinduism seemed very much in favour of suicide and self-liberation. Indeed, even  Manusmriti discusses accomplishing self-freedom while experiencing hopeless sickness.

In modern times, the greater part of the hindus says that a doctor shouldn’t accept a patient’s  request for euthanasia because this would cause the soul and body to be separated at an  unnatural time. And as a result, the karma of both the doctor and the patient will be affected.  Euthanasia, according to other Hindus, is against the teaching of ahimsa (doing no harm), so it  cannot be practiced. On the other hand, some Hindus believe that helping to end a painful life  is a good deed and fulfils one’s moral obligations. In the commentaries on Manu, Govardana  and Kulluka made the observation that, despite Vedic laws prohibiting suicide, a man who is  suffering from an incurable illness or experiences a great misfortune may embark on a journey  that results in death. 

Other religions in India like Buddhism and Jainism are also supportive of the idea of  euthanasia but with some reasonable restrictions. On the contrary, the religions like Muslims  and Christians are against the practice of euthanasia. They strongly believe that life is a pious  gift of their respective good (Allah & Jesus) and it is the god who chooses the life of any person  that how long he/she will live. Like them, the Sikhs derive their ethics largely from the  teachings of their scripture, Guru Granth Sahib, and the Sikh Code of Conduct i.e. (The Rehat  Maryada). The Sikh Gurus rejected suicide (and by extension, euthanasia). They believe  euthanasia interferes with God’s plan. Suffering, they said, was part of the operation of  karma, and humans should not only accept it without complaint, but act so as to make the  best of the situation that karma has given them. Therefore, no human being has the right to  interfere in taking the life of any person. In short, they argued on the premise that one should  not interfere with the natural process of death.


Internationally, the concept of euthanasia or right to die with dignity has gained a significant  recognition and acceptance. The following is the lists of those few countries where it is  permitted3

NETHERLANDS: In 2001, the Netherlands legalised euthanasia. In the said year, the  Parliament of Netherlands has passed a bill, which later became an act i.e “Termination of Life  on Request and Assisted Suicide” (Review of Procedures) Act. This act formally relaxes the  law’s ban on euthanasia and assisted suicide that had previously been upheld by a judicial  decisions. Previously, accordingly to the penal code of the Netherlands killing a person on his  request was punishable with twelve years of imprisonment or fine and also assisting a person  in committing suicide was punishable with three years of imprisonment or fine. But after the  guidelines, the law of Netherlands provides a defence of ‘necessity’ to the offence of voluntary  euthanasia and assisted suicide. This defence of necessity is two main components: 

The first one pertains to ‘psychological compulsion’ while the second one relates to ’emergency’. The grounds laid down by the court for deciding whether the defence of necessity applies or  not is briefly elaborate herein below: 

∙ The request for euthanasia must come from the patient only and the consent must be  completely free and voluntary.

∙ The patient’s request must be done with careful approach, durable effectiveness, and  persistent nature.

∙ The patient must undergo an experience of intolerable suffering, which may not be  limited to physical pain.

∙ Euthanasia should be the last resort and there should be no prospect of improvement  in their health.

∙ Other options should be considered and deficiencies found to alleviate the patient’s  condition.

∙ Euthanasia must be perform by doctors only.

∙ The doctor should consult an independent medical colleague who has experience in this  area. 

3Srivastava Vinod, “Euthanasia: a regional perspective”, Published On: July 21st, 2014, Retrieved On: July 12th,  2023, Retrieved From:

AUSTRALIA: Australia’s Northern Territory became the first country to legalize euthanasia  by passing the Right to Terminally Ill Act, 1996. This was upheld as legal by the Supreme Court  of the Northern Territory of Australia in the Wake v Northern Territory of Australia case. But  afterwards it was rendered unlawful once more by the Euthanasia Law Act of 1997.

UNITED STATES : In USA, The practise of actively ending a patient’s life is illegal but  doctors are not held accountable if they refuse or cease to providing life-sustaining care or life  support system at the patient’s request or at the request of the patient’s authorised agent. In  short, according to their laws, the passive euthanasia is allowed and permitted. Also in the legal  landscape, the Supreme Court of the United States has completely banned euthanasia through  landmark cases such as Washington v. Glucksburg and Waco v. Quill. In these cases, the ban  on physician-assisted suicide was upheld, saying it was in consonance with constitutional  provisions. However, in the state of Oregon, assisted suicide was legalized in 1994. Since then,  27 cases of assisted suicide have been reported in 1999, and this number is expected to rise  further.

BELGIUM : In Belgium, the concept of euthanasia was made legal in the year 2002.

COLOMBIA: The status of euthanasia in Colombia is uncertain because Congress never  validated the Constitutional Court in 1997 decision to legalise it. On the other hand, physician assisted suicide is considered illegal.


 CASE NAME: Aruna Ramchandra Shanbaug vs Union of India4

Facts Of The Case: Aruna Ramchandra Shanbaug worked as a staff nurse at the Mumbai based King Edward Memorial Hospital. On November 27, 1973, she was attacked by a hospital  sweeping employee. He used a dog chain to wrap around her and strangle her, preventing her  from moving in an effort to rape her. He sodomised Ms. Aruna after noticing she was 

4 MANU/SC/0176/2011

menstruating. On November 28, 1973, the very following day, Ms. Aruna was discovered on  the floor covered in blood. She was discovered unconscious by one of the maids. The dog chain  strangulation severely damaged the cortex of her brain by cutting off the oxygen flow. She also  suffered a contusion to the brain stem and a cervical cord damage. A friend of Ms. Aruna filed  a plea for the matter under article 32 of the Indian Constitution in 2009, after 36 years of the  incidence. Ms. Shanbaug has been in a “Permanent Vegetative State” for a very long time. She  has grown incredibly frail and weak.

Respondent’s Arguments: The hospital’s dean argued that Ms. Shanbaug had received care  and food from the nurse and other hospital employees for as long as 36 years. The staff took  excellent care of her and did it with the utmost responsibility and willingness. As a result, they  object to and dislike the concept of killing Ms. Shanbaug. Given that the patient is approaching

60 years old, she may naturally pass away.

They pleaded with the court to forbid the murderous act. All of her basic requirements and  needs have been met by the personnel with diligence and respect. In the unlikely event that this  is accepted, euthanasia has a strong propensity for abuse. .In order to prevent family members,  relatives, and other close friends from abusing the legalisation of passive euthanasia, they  pleaded with the court to deny the practice’s acceptance. One of the nurses is willing to care  for Mrs. Shanbaug for the rest of her life without payment because the hospital staff has an  emotional connection to the patient.

Ms. Shanbaug has a right to life, thus taking her life would be immoral and cruel. Also  important to note is the outstanding and selfless service provided by the hospital staff. Further,  since the patient is unable to consent herself to being removed off the life support system, the  issue of who would consent on Ms. Shanbaug’s behalf arises.

Petitioner’s Arguments: A petition was submitted under article 32 of the Indian Constitution  by Ms. Shanbaug’s acquaintance. According to the petitioner’s attorney, article 21’s protection  of the right to life also encompasses the right to live in the highest degree of dignity. Therefore,  it must also encompass the right to a dignified death. Any person with a terminal illness or who  is permanently vegetative must fall under the definition of the “right to die” in order to put an  end to their excruciating pain and suffering. She has been bedridden for the past 36 years with  no chance of change. She is completely unaware of her surroundings, lacks the ability to chew  her food, is unable to speak on her own, and has no knowledge of her surroundings.

Judgment: The difference between active and passive euthanasia was drawn by the court.  Active euthanasia is the intentional and positive ending of a person’s life through the injection  or administration of a fatal drug. Except if sanctioned by law, it is regarded as illegal  everywhere. Active euthanasia in India is a clear violation of sections 302 and 304 (3) of the  IPC. Moreover, section 309 (4) of the IPC makes physician assisted suicide a crime. On the  other side, passive euthanasia involves the removal of medical care or life-supporting mechanisms.

The primary difference between active and passive euthanasia is that during “active”  euthanasia, a purposeful action is taken to end life, but during “passive” euthanasia, no such  action is taken. The supreme court rejected the petitioner’s argument and instead outlined an  appropriate procedure and set of standards for approving passive euthanasia in the “rarest of  rare circumstances.” The High Court would have the power to decide whether to turn off the  life support system under the provisions of article 226. When an application is submitted, the  Chief Justice of the High Court must convene a bench and refer a committee of three well respected doctors to them.


Ethical Concerns: Euthanasia raises deep ethical concerns regarding the value of human life,  personal liberty and the right to a dignified death. These difficult ethical conundrums are made easier to understand and deal with by research on euthanasia, which enables individuals and  society to form well-informed opinions on the subject.

Legal Framework: In India, the legal environment pertaining to euthanasia is still developing.  The Supreme Court of India issued a major decision in 2018, generally referred to as the “Aruna  Shanbaug case,” that recognised the idea of “passive euthanasia” and established clear rules  for its use. Assisted suicide and active euthanasia are still prohibited. Policymakers, legal  experts, and academics may build thorough and complex rules and regulations governing end

of-life choices by studying euthanasia.

5 Roy Caeser,”POSITION OF EUTHANASIA IN INDIA – AN ANALYTICAL STUDY”, Published On: July, 2011,  Retrieved On: July 11th, 2023, Retrieved From: _AN_ANALYTICAL_STUDY

Social Implications: Euthanasia is a subject that affects the society as a whole. Studying  euthanasia helps to understand its impact on families, caregivers, health care professionals, and  society at large. This allows exploration of the possible social, emotional and psychological  consequences for the individuals involved, as well as the wider moral and ethical implications  for society.

Patient Rights and Autonomy: The study of euthanasia helps to examine the concept of  patient autonomy and the right to make decisions about one’s life, including the option of a  dignified death. India is a diverse country with different cultural, religious and social  perspectives on death and dying. An exploration of these perspectives, along with individual  rights, can help shape health care practices that respect and uphold patient autonomy while  considering the broader social context

Comparative Analysis: Studying euthanasia in the Indian context allows comparative analysis  with other countries that have legalized euthanasia or have a stronger legal framework for end of-life decisions. By examining international practices, researchers and policy makers can learn  from the experiences of other countries and evaluate the potential benefits, risks, and  safeguards associated with legalizing euthanasia.

As an overall, the study of euthanasia in India is important for promoting informed discussions,  developing an appropriate legal framework, shaping health care policies, and addressing the  ethical dilemmas associated with end-of-life decisions. It facilitates a wider understanding of  the subject, leading to a more compassionate and holistic approach to end-of-life care and the  rights of persons experiencing intolerable suffering.


Although there has been progress in terms of legal recognition and rights, there is still a long  way to go in achieving real acceptance of the process of euthanasia in India. Here are some  suggestions:

Public Awareness: Launch a massive public awareness campaign to educate the public  about euthanasia, its benefits and the need for its legalization. Providing factual  information should be a part of this, and it should be done across a variety of channels,  including social media, radio, and television. This will help in removing  misconceptions and promoting an informed and empathetic society

Need of Oversight authority: Establish a commission or independent authority to be  in charge of monitoring the application of euthanasia laws. This body is in charge of  ensuring that the procedure is strictly followed, overseeing its execution, and  responding to any issues or complaints.

Create stringent qualifying requirements: Create a strict list of requirements that  patients must satisfy in order to qualify for euthanasia. This may involve having used  up all available medical therapies, having a terminal illness, experiencing excruciating  pain or suffering, or having illnesses that are irreversible.

Involve a multidisciplinary approach: Seek input from medical professionals,  ethicists, legal experts and religious leaders to ensure a holistic approach on euthanasia.  This will help address concerns related to medical ethics, religious beliefs and possible  legal repercussions.

Implement rigorous safeguards: Incorporate multiple layers of safeguards to prevent  any potential misuse or abuse of euthanasia. These safeguards may include mandatory  second opinions from independent medical professionals, psychological counseling and  a cooling-off period to ensure that the patient’s decision is well informed and voluntary.


No such law could be guaranteed to be free of abuse, which would primarily focus on the  lives of other sick people who did not want their lives stolen. The ease with which such  abuse can be made invisible makes it exceptionally hazardous. Therefore, even if mercy  killing seems morally acceptable, it seems virtually impossible to carry out in practise. But so  is every law without proper implementation or strict and well established guidelines.

Therefore, euthanasia would need to be legalised with appropriate protections. When a  legislation on the subject is being drafted to combat unethical practises and the improper use  of euthanasia, it must take into account the recommendations made in the legislation  Commission of India’s reports and the guidelines outlined in the Aruna’s case. Additionally,  the likelihood of euthanasia being used inappropriately would be significantly decreased if  the aforementioned proposals were to be put into practise.