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Is Euthanasia Legal In India?

Passive euthanasia is legal in India, but the active form of it is still illegal and it looks like it will be that way for quite a while.

In India, there are two kinds of euthanasia: active and passive. Active means doing something in order to end a person’s life. It’s not allowed by law. On the other hand, passive has been lawful since some Supreme Court decisions. Among other things, it involves stopping life support in some cases.

You see, in 2011, the Supreme Court allowed passive euthanasia, which meant withdrawing life support on a patient’s plea in the Aruna Shanbaug case. This view was reiterated in the year 2018, in the case of Common Cause v. Union of India, where the court supported the legality of passive euthanasia again and agreed to the idea of living wills. A living will offer a person an opportunity to decide in advance and make known his or her decisions concerning end-of-life care.


Euthanasia Current Guidelines and Legal Procedure

The Supreme Court had framed clear rules for carrying out passive euthanasia. A person is required to have a living will indicating his desire for care at the end of life, which is followed under some medical condition. The process would involve meticulous checks by medical boards and even court scrutiny to ensure that every legal requirement of the law is followed. Though, in 2023, the Supreme Court made these rules simpler, making it easier for people to use them.

The chapter on euthanasia in India brings forth ethical and social aspects of the subject in view of the fact that this country is full of different religious and cultural groups, which carry varied opinions on the subject of the right to die in society. Acceptance of passive euthanasia opens the floodgates to a complicated debate on personal liberties, death respect, and the ethical responsibilities of a physician and family.

But even though it allows for the practice of euthanasia by law, putting down such laws to practice comes with its big challenges, like many, even doctors do not have the idea of legal rights and steps involved in passive euthanasia. For example, the Indian state of Haryana tried to sensitize the medical workers and the public to the process, however, they are not put into use widely. Here is where better education, clear communication with the sick and the families, and evidence-based decisions on care are very important.


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