|Submitted By:||Ashutosh Joshi|
Right to die
Ashutosh Joshi 
When a person ends his life by his own act we call it “suicide”. The reaction to the act of suicide is different in different societies. To end life of a person by other though on the request of the deceased is called “mercy killing” or “euthanasia”, which means “easy death”. It means applying such methods and means which will make the death painless and relieve the person from misery and the pain of life . It also suggested that a person is relieved of the pain which he is suffering during his left time. Suicide and Euthanasia cannot be treated as one and same thing. They are two different acts. In case of suicide the deceased end his life by his own act and in the latter it is being done by a third person though on the request of the deceased. In the ancient India the suicide was legal act approved by the society. The various forms of the society approved by the society were johar (mass suicide of self-immolation) of ladies from the royal families to avoid the humiliation by enemies, sati, Samadhi(termination of one’s life by self restraint on breathing) atremarpana( self-sacrifice).
The Bombay High Court in State of Maharashtra v. Maruty Sripati Dubal, has attempted to make a distinction between suicide and mercy killing. According to the Court the suicide by its very nature is an act of self-killing or termination of one’s own life by one’s act without assistances from others. But Euthanasia means the intervention of other human agency to end the life. Mercy killing therefore can not be considered on the same footing as suicide. Mercy killing is nothing but homicide, whatever be the circumstances in which it is committed. The Court explained the position of Indian law on the Euthanasia as under:
“Mercy killing is nothing but homicide, whatever the circumstances in which it is effected. Unless it is specifically accepted it cannot but be an offence. Out Penal Court further punishes not only abetment of homicide, but also the abetment of suicide.”
The “right to die” is inherently inconsistent with right to live, even in cases where the patient is terminally ill. The right to live with dignity is not to be confused or equated with the right to die unnaturally curtailing the natural spam of life.
The APEX Court in Gain Kaur V. State of Punjab , also consider the question of euthanasia which was sought to be justified on the view that existence in PVS  is not a benefit to the patient of a terminal illness being unrelated to the principle of ‘sanctity of life’ or ‘right to live with dignity’. It was held that the protagonist of euthanasia was of no assistance to determine the scope of Art.21 for deciding whether the guarantee of ‘right to life’ therein include the ‘right to die’. The Apex Court emphasized that the ‘right to life’ under Art.21 would include the right to live with human dignity up to end of natural life, which include the right to dignified life upto the point of death including a dignified procedure of death. But the ‘right to die’ at the end of life is not to be confused or equated with the “right top die” an unnatural death curtailing the natural span of life. In this view of matter, the Apex Court disagreed with view expressed earlier in P.Rathiram’s case and came to the conclusion that the reason for which Section 309 of I.P.C. was held to be violative of Art.21 did not withstand legal scrutiny. It was, therefore, held that Section 309 of I.P.C. was not violative of Art.21 of the Constitution. Gain Kaur, however, appears to have approved passive euthanasia by holding that one may, in a given case, have “the right to die’ with dignity as a part of ‘right to live’ with dignity”. A person having death knocking at the door because of his terminal illness or extreme old ages and where death is imminent and the process of death has already commanded, may deny or may be denied any further medical aid so that his suffering may not be prolonged, because these are not cases of extinguishing life but only of accelerating conclusion of the process of natural death which has already commenced”.
POSITION IN OTHER COUTRIES-
In the case of Euthanasia and Physician Assisted Suicide, the countries that advocate 'mercy killing' are Holland, Northern Provinces of Australia as well as some states in the United States of America. The Netherlands is the first country in the world to legalize euthanasia. The bill allows doctors to kill patients with terminal diseases who are suffering "unbearably," if they request it.
The Netherlands on 18 April, 2001, the first nation in the world to legalize euthanasia, often called mercy killing. The Dutch decision to allow doctors to kill patients who are undergoing ``unbearable suffering'' from terminal illnesses gave rise to angry protests from the pro-life lobby across the world. But the move was also welcomed by several human rights activists and patients' organizations who said that a long-accepted practice in the Netherlands had finally been given legal sanction. Doctors in Holland regularly perform mercy killing in consultation with patients and their families.
Positive aspects of right to die-
'Right to die' is different from euthanasia. Euthanasia means 'a good and peaceful death'. The term 'terminal', as defined by medical experts, means a disease that cannot be cured or has no remedy. In fact, the final remedy is death. These terminally persons should be permitted to access the relief which is granted by euthanasia. A practicing consultant, who is an expert in that particular field of illness, must confirm the terminal illness of the patient. Euthanasia is like a 'will', made by a person when he is hale and hearty, just as the will which deals with property and inheritance. Any person, who is competent in the eyes of the law, should be allowed to make a will. This will be made in front of two witnesses, stating his desire to die in case of terminal illness. He should also state that his decision can be revoked by him at his own will at any given time in the future. It should not be binding on him that he must exercise his right to die in case of a terminal illness. He should have the option of revoking such a decision at any given point in the future. A person should be given the choice to decide the time and place of his death.
The medical profession holds that the life of a patient has to be saved. However, in cases of a terminal illness, medical professionals do not prolong the life of a person. Instead they prolong the death of that person. The Constitution of India says that is the right to life  of an individual; he must be kept alive through all the sufferings that he has to undergo throughout the period till death releases him from his ordeal. Sufferings can be physical, mental as well as monetary. Euthanasia can be considered to be a solution to get rid of such sufferings.
NEGATIVE ASPECTS OF RIGHT TO DIE-
The issues involved under euthanasia are :
- Whether there can be a misuse of the practice- wherein property matters and inheritance come to light. This can be a hindrance to the spirit of euthanasia.
- Life is precious and here the ethical principles of life are involved.
In case of minors or mentally retarded persons, the will of the parents can be taken into account. The earlier mentioned procedure for consent will remain constant. In the Jain religion, there is provision that considers euthanasia as legal and this is called Santhara.
As the law now stands, physicians and surgeons who wish, in the interest of compassion and humanity, to respond to the patient's wishes in a suitable case, are inhibited from acting in accordance with their conscience for fear that they might be breaking the law of the land of which they are loyal citizens. It is also possible that a doctor in such a predicament may be exposed to blackmail. It is therefore necessary that doctors, who act with care and humanity, must be protected from prosecution and persecution.
It seems to me that suicide probably ought to remain illegal, because many people who attempt it (especially young people) are either a) not fully in charge of their faculties, b) treatable patients with one or another form of mental illness, and c) would probably thank us later for resisting their attempt. These aren't strong arguments (it can still be argued that suicide "doesn't hurt anyone but the doer"), but they are good enough for me. The state should do everything it can to discourage people from committing suicide. On the other hand, it shouldn't penalize people who attempt it and fail. If the 'crime' of suicide is punished, you run the risk of the old totalitarian joke: he tried to commit suicide, and failed, so they executed him.
So perhaps suicide should remain generally illegal (but not punishable), and there should just be an exception granted to people who are terminally ill and in excruciating pain (like L. Venkatesh). But doctors often disagree on what defines terminal illness. And while there will certainly be some cases where death is inevitable, there will be many cases where death is fairly far off in the future, and there is some hope, however small. Moreover, critics can object that there is always the possibility of a medical miracle -- that 1 in 10,000 chance that a patient will recover -- so isn't it worth keeping the patient alive in case that happens? Opening up the Right to Die as an exception in the law against suicide would only work if the likelihood of death were overwhelmingly high, and if the "miracle cure" argument were thrown out on a cost/benefit basis.
Thus, it seems like a viable argument to say that the right to die should remain generally illegal because of the confusion that could ensue if it were legalized. This is the status quo, and the suffering of people like Venkatesh is unfortunate, but perhaps justified because it does serve the greater common good.
On the other hand, if I could be convinced that doctors could specify the cases where euthanasia is the best option with upwards of 99% certainty , then may be legalizing right to die would also serve the common good.
The basic moral question that arises is whether by legalizing a person's right to die; we will degrade a human beings life and stop respecting human life. No one can deny that there is nothing more precious than the gift of life which every human being enjoys. Why then should man decide when his life should end? Most religious people believe that life is sacred and one should not waste time in planning about their death but planning about how to enjoy life. Terminating life is not an answer to pain. All along life's journey man will suffer pain whether it is physical or mental or emotional or psychological. Will legalization of right to die be done to relieve oneself from the physical pain only? A person weakened by illness may not be in a position to review his decision to kill himself. Decision to die by coming under some financial or social obligation is also very dangerous. Somewhere down the line we may end up violating the right to life while legalizing the right to death.
When life is woe and hope is dumb, the world says go! The grave says, come! Whose voice will you hear? Will you be a faint heart and say that I want the right to die or will you in your sorrow and misery and pain be a brave heart and say, dear god give me two more precious moments because I want to cherish the precious gift of life
 Study in LL.M Part I, II sem, Editor, Tha Law Scholar, Law Department, University of Rajasthan- Jaipur
Encyclopedia of “Crime and Justice” explains it “as an act of death which will provide relief from a distressing or intolerable condition of living.”
2000 Cri LJ, Journal Section, 161 at p. 161
 Gain Kaur v. State of Punjab AIR 1996 SC 946
persistent vegetative state
 Article 21
 This would require a classification of terminal illnesses and probably the statistical ascertainment of survivability.