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Aruna Ramchandra Shanbaug vs Union Of India & Ors on 7 March, 2011
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4. We could have dismissed this petition on the short ground that under Article 32 of the Constitution of India (unlike Article 226) the petitioner has to prove violation of a fundamental right, and it has been held by the Constitution Bench decision of this Court in Gian Kaur vs. State of Punjab, 1996(2) SCC 648 (vide paragraphs 22 and 23) that the right to life guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution does not include the right to die. Hence the petitioner has not shown violation of any of her fundamental rights. However, in view of the importance of the issues involved we decided to go deeper into the merits of the case.

19. We have carefully considered paragraphs 24 and 25 in Gian Kaur's case (supra) and we are of the opinion that all that has been said therein is that the view in Rathinam's case (supra) that the right to life includes the right to die is not correct. We cannot construe Gian Kaur's case (supra) to mean anything beyond that. In fact, it has been specifically mentioned in paragraph 25 of the aforesaid decision that "the debate even in such cases to permit physician assisted termination of life is inconclusive". Thus it is obvious that no final view was expressed in the decision in Gian Kaur's case beyond what we have mentioned above.

30. Whilst this Court has held that there is no right to die (suicide) under Article 21 of the Constitution and attempt to suicide is a crime vide Section 309 IPC, the Court has held that the right to life includes the right to live with human dignity, and in the case of a dying person who is terminally ill or in a permanent vegetative state he may be permitted to terminate it by a premature extinction of his life in these circumstances and it is not a crime vide Gian Kaur's case (supra).

98. The Constitution Bench of the Indian Supreme Court in Gian Kaur vs. State of Punjab, 1996(2) SCC 648 held that both euthanasia and assisted suicide are not lawful in India. That decision overruled the earlier two Judge Bench decision of the Supreme Court in P. Rathinam vs. Union of India, 1994(3) SCC 394. The Court held that the right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution does not include the right to die (vide para 33). In Gian Kaur's case (supra) the Supreme Court approved of the decision of the House of Lords in Airedale's case (supra), and observed that euthanasia could be made lawful only by legislation.