Aruna Ramchandran Shaunbagh v. UOI


Author: Ayushi Ranade, HPNLU

Fundamental Rights are integral for a dignified and enjoyable life. Probably the most necessary Fundamental Right in the Indian Constitution is the Right to Life provided under Article 21. It is a right that encompasses inside its wide-area the proper to criminal aid, proper to a smooth environment, and a plethora of different rights. The query that got here to be regarded in the existing case used to be whether or not inherent in this sacred proper is proper to die-whether an individual can be allowed to manage his dying and figure out to stop his life. The right to die has come to be necessary thinking about the development in scientific jurisprudence and additionally the opportunity of misuse of this proper using household members. This case dealt with euthanasia in element via distinguishing between energetic and passive euthanasia. Laws referring to euthanasia in specific jurisdictions have been considered. The courtroom deleted into a state of affairs the place the affected person was once incapable of giving consent and distinctive who should method the Court on his behalf. It additionally laid down suggestions prescribing the scenario and manner of administering passive euthanasia.”


The Constitution of India ensures ‘Right to Life’ to all its citizens. The constant, ever-lasting debate on whether or not ‘Right to Die’ can additionally examine into this provision nonetheless lingers in the air. On the different hand, with the greater and extra emphasis being laid on the knowledgeable consent of the sufferers in the clinical field, the idea of Euthanasia in India has obtained a combined response. The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India, in the current matter, was once approached underneath Article 32 of the Indian Constitution to permit for the termination of the existence of Aruna Ramchandra Shanbaug, who used to be in an everlasting vegetative state. The petition was once filed with the aid of Ms. Pinki Virani, claiming to be the subsequent pal of the petitioner. The Court in previous instances has sincerely denied the proper to die and for this reason, legally, there was once no essential proper violation that would allow the petitioner to strategy the courtroom below Article 32. Nonetheless, the Supreme Court taking awareness of the gravity of the rely worried on and the allied public pastime in figuring out about the legality of euthanasia universal the petition.


It was once referred to that the petitioner Aruna Ramachandra Shanbaug was once a body of workers Nurse working in King Edward Memorial Hospital, Parel, Mumbai. On the nighttime of twenty-seventh November 1973, she was attacked with the aid of a sweeper in the medical institution who wrapped a canine chain around her neck and yanked her again with it. He tried to rape her, however, discovering that she was once menstruating, he sodomized her. To immobilize her in the course of this act he twisted the chain around her neck. The subsequent day, a cleaner discovered her in unconscious situation mendacity on the flooring with blood all over. It used to be alleged that due to strangulation oxygen supply got restricted.

Thirty-six years had lapsed because of the stated incident. She had been surviving on mashed meals and ought to no longer go her fingers or legs. It was alleged that there is no opportunity of any enhancement in the situation and that she was once completely based on KEM Hospital, Mumbai. It used to be prayed to direct the Respondents to give up feeding Aruna and let her die in peace.


The respondents, KEM Hospital and Bombay MunicipalCorporation filed a counter-petition. Since there had been disparities in the petitions filed by using the petitioner and respondents, the courtroom determined to appoint a group of three eminent medical doctors to inspect and file on the specific bodily and intellectual stipulations of Aruna Shanbaug.

They studied Aruna Shanbaug’s scientific records in the element and opined that she is now not Genius dead. She reacts to positive conditions in her very own way. For example, she likes the light, devotional track and prefers fish soups. She is uncomfortable if a lot of humans are in the room and she receives distraught. She is calm when there are fewer humans around her. The personnel of KEM Hospital was once taking enough care of her. She used to be stored smoothly all the time. Also, they did now not discover any advice from the physique language of Aruna as to the willingness to terminate her life. Further, the nursing body of workers at KEM Hospital was once greater than inclined to take care of her. Thus, the medical doctors opined that that euthanasia in the immediate depend is now not necessary.


1)When a character is in an everlasting vegetative kingdom (PVS), must withhold or withdrawal of existence sustaining treatment options be permissible or `not unlawful’?

2)If the affected person has in the past expressed a want no longer to have life-sustaining remedies in case of futile care or a PVS, ought to his/ her needs be revered when the scenario arises?

3)In case a character has no longer formerly expressed such a wish if his household or subsequent family members requests to withhold or withdraw futile life-sustaining treatments, ought to their desires be respected?


In the case of State of Maharashtra v. Maruti Shripati Dubal[1], the rivalry used to be that Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code used to be unconstitutional as it is violative of Article 19 and 21. It was once held in this case using the Bombay excessive court docket that ‘right to life’ additionally consists of ‘right to die’ and area 309 was once struck down. The court docket honestly stated in this case that proper to die is now not unnatural; it is simply distinctive and abnormal.

In the case of P.Rathinam v. Union of India[2], it used to be held that the scope of Article 21 consists of the ‘right to die’. P. Rathinam held that Article 21 has added tremendous content material and is no longer in basic terms bad in its reach.

In the case of Gian Kaur v. the State of Punjab[3], the validity of Section 306 of the IPC used to be in question, which penalized the abetment of suicide. This case overruled P.Rathinam however the courtroom opined that in the context of a terminally unwell affected person or one in the PVS, the proper to die is now not the termination of lifestyles upfront however as an alternative accelerating the technique of demise which has already commenced. Further, it used to be additionally submitted that the proper to stay with human dignity[4] has to additionally consist of demise with dignity and now not one of subsisting intellectual and bodily agony.

Reliance used to be positioned on the landmark judgment of Airedale NHS Trust v. Bland[5], the place for the first time in English history, the proper to die was once allowed via the withdrawal of lifestyle aid structures such as meals and water. This case positioned the authority to determine whether or not a case is matched or no longer for euthanasia in the fingers of the Court.

Also, in the case of Mckay v. Bergsted[6] the Supreme Court of Nevada, after due contrast of the nation hobby and the patient’s interest, upheld the permission for the elimination of respirator. However, in the on the spot case, Aruna ought to breathe via herself and did no longer want any exterior help to breathe and thus, exclusive from the Mckay case.


The Supreme Court dealt with the element of knowledgeable consent and proper to the bodily integrity of the affected person as observed by way of the US after the Nancy Cruzan case[7]. Informed Consent in the form of consent whereby the affected person is conscious of all the future publications of his treatment, his probabilities of recovery, and all the facet results of all of these choice guides of treatment. If a man or woman is in a function to supply knowledgeable consent and he is nonetheless no longer asked, the medical doctor can be booked for assault, battery, or even culpable homicide. The thought of knowledgeable consent comes into query solely when the affected person is capable to apprehend the penalties of her therapy or has beforehand when in sound stipulations made a declaration.
In this case, the consent of Aruna should now not be received and thus, the query as to who must figure out on her behalf grew to be extra prominent. This was once determined via beneficence. Beneficence is performing in the patient’s satisfactory interest. Acting in the patient’s pleasant pastime skill following a path of motion that is exceptional for the patient, and is now not influenced through private convictions, reasons, or different considerations. Public activity and the pursuits of the nation have been additionally considered. The mere legalization of euthanasia ought to lead to a large unfold misuse of the provision and thus, the courtroom appeared at a range of jurisprudences to evolve with the safeguards.


The universal criminal function all over the world was once that whilst energetic euthanasia is unlawful except there is the law allowing it; passive euthanasia is prison even except law supplied sure stipulations and safeguards are maintained. Certain nations had surpassed legislation to enable for energetic euthanasia or medical doctor-assisted suicide. In the former, the doctor or anyone else administers it, whilst in the latter, the affected person himself does so, although on the recommendation of the doctor.

Euthanasia in the Netherlands is regulated by using the Termination of Life on Request and Assisted Suicide (Review Procedures) Act,2002. It states that euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide are now not punishable if the attending medical doctor acts by the standards of due care. These standards challenge the patient’s request, the patient’s suffering (unbearable and hopeless), the facts supplied to the patient, the presence of lifelike alternatives, the session of some other doctor,and the utilized approach of ending life.

Article one hundred fifteen of the Swiss Penal Code considers helping suicide a crime if, and solely if, the cause is selfish. The code does now not provide docs extraordinary popularity in helping suicide; although, they are most probably to have to get admission to appropriate drugs. Ethical pointers have advised medical doctors towards prescribing lethal drugs. The Swiss regulation is special due to the fact (1) the recipient wants now not be a Swiss national, and (2) a medical doctor wants no longer to be involved. Many men and women from different countries, particularly Germany, go to Switzerland to endure euthanasia.


Active Euthanasia is unlawful in all states in the U.S.A., however medical doctor-assisted demise is a felony in the states of Oregon, Washington, and Montana. Further, Washington and Montana additionally have comparable legislation in place. Countries like Belgium, Canada have additionally joined the move. On the different hand, international locations such as Spain, the UK, do now not categorize their team spirit closer to euthanasia.


The Hon’ble Division Bench of the Supreme Court of India, comprising Justice Markandey Katju and Justice Gyan Sudha Mishra, delivered this ancient judgment on March 7, 2011. The Court opined that based totally on the doctors’ document and the definition of Genius dying underneath the Transplantation of Human Organs Act, 1994, Aruna was once no longer intelligence dead. She should breathe except a helping machine, had emotions and produced imperative stimulus. Though she is in a PVS, her circumstance used to be been stable. So, terminating her existence used to be unjustified.

Further, the proper to make a choice on her behalf vested with the administration and body of workers of KEM Hospital and no longer Pinki Virani. The existence saving approach was once the mashed food, due to the fact of which she was once surviving. The elimination of lifestyles saving approach, in this case, would have intended now not feeding her. The Indian regulation in no way recommended no longer giving meals to a person. Removal of ventilators and discontinuation of meals ought to now not be equated. Allowing euthanasia to Aruna would imply reversing the efforts taken using the nurses of KEM Hospital over the years. Moreover, in furtherance of the parens patriae principle, the Court to stop any misuse in the vested the energy to decide the termination of the existence of character in the High Court. Thus, the Supreme Court allowed passive euthanasia in positive conditions, concern to the approval through the High Court following the due procedure. When software for passive euthanasia is filed the Chief Justice of the High Court ought to forthwith represent a Bench of at least two Judges who must determine to furnish approval or not. Before doing so the Bench has to are trying to find the opinion of a committee of three reputed physicians to be nominated by using the Bench after consulting such clinical authorities/medical practitioners as it might also deem fit. Simultaneously with appointing the committee of doctors, the High Court Bench shall additionally problem note to the State and shut family e.g. parents, spouse, brothers/sisters, etc. of the patient, and in their absence his/her subsequent friend, and grant a replica of the file of the doctor’s committee to them as quickly as it is available. After listening to them, the High Court bench needs to provide its verdict. The above technique ought to be observed all over India until Parliament makes regulations on this subject. However, Aruna Shanbaug was once denied euthanasia as the courtroom opined that the remember used to be no longer healthy for the same. If at any time in the future, the team of workers of KEM clinic or the administration felt want for the same, they may want to method the High Court underneath the process prescribed. This case clarified the troubles revolving around euthanasia and additionally laid down hints about large euthanasia. Alongside, the court docket additionally made advice to repeal Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code. This case is a landmark case as it prescribed the system to be observed in a place that has no longer been legislated upon.


“That a man has reached immortality who is disturbed by nothing material” by Mr. Justice Deepak Misra

Everyone has a right to life but at the same time, he or she has a right to life with dignity. If he/she is unable to live with dignity because of prolonged illness, from which he/she will not overcome then in such cases he/she has the right to die with dignity. This is what balancing of rights mean. Adjustment, acceptance, compromise, and settlement comes in the balancing of rights and for the coexistence of rights. We have to balance them for the well being of mankind,” as said by Mr. Justice.

To be in a position to adjudicate upon the aforementioned issues, the courtroom defined as to what is euthanasia. Euthanasia or mercy killing is of two types: energetic and passive. Active euthanasia entails the use of deadly materials or forces to kill an individual e.g. a deadly injection is given to a character with terminal most cancers who is in horrible agony. Passive euthanasia entails withholding of clinical remedy for the continuance of life, e.g. withholding of antibiotics the place besides giving it an affected person is in all likelihood to die, or casting off the coronary heart-lung machine, from an affected person in a coma. A similar categorization of euthanasia is between voluntary euthanasia and non-voluntary euthanasia. Voluntary euthanasia is the place the consent is taken from the patient, whereas non-voluntary euthanasia is the place the consent is unavailable e.g. when the affected person is in a coma or is in any other case unable to provide consent. While there is no felony challenge in the case of the former, the latter poses several problems. The existing case dealt with passive non-voluntary euthanasia. The Indian regulation in no way recommended no longer giving meals to a person. Removal of ventilators and discontinuation of meals ought to now not be equated. Allowing euthanasia to Aruna would imply reversing the efforts taken using the nurses of KEM Hospital over the years.

Thus when a person in all way capable of consuming and responding to certain stimulus no one is vested with the power to take away the life of any such individual and right to die can be cast upon cases where a person is denying any responses and is even not in the condition of any sort of consumption.A particular fundamental right cannot exist in isolation in a watertight compartment and one fundamental right of a person may have to coexist in harmony with the exercise of another fundamental right by others.

[1] 1987 (1) Bom CR

[2] 1994 SCC (3) 394

[3] (1996) 2 SCC 648

[4] Vikram Deo Singh Tomar v. State of Bihar,1988 (Supp) SCC 734

[5] MHD (1993) 2 WLR 316

[6] 801 P.2d 617 (Nev. 1990).

[7] Cruzan v. Director, Missouri Department of Health, 110 S. Ct. 2841