Legal stamp for mercy killing?

mercy killing
Image by iluvrhinestones via Flickr


India may be the next country to legalise euthanasia — the right to die in extraordinary circumstances.

The Supreme Court on Monday directed the setting up of a three-member committee of doctors to examine the physical and mental status of nurse Aruna Shanbaug who has been lying in an unconscious state for the past 38 years in King Edward Memorial (KEM) Hospital. Shanbaug, 60, has been comatose following a brutal sexual assault by a hospital ward boy, Sohanlal Valmiki, in 1973. Lawyer Pinki Virani has moved the top court seeking permission to end her life.

Two years ago, a reluctant court had issued notices to the Centre and the state government on Virani’s petition and had said that “under the law of the country, we cannot allow a person to die”.

Shanbaug had joined KEM Hospital as a nurse in 1966. She was attacked by Valmiki, who strangled her with a dog chain, cutting off oxygen supply to her brain, which left her blind, paralysed and comatose. Valmiki was convicted for attempt to murder and for robbing Shanbaug’s earrings, but was never tried for rape. He was let off after seven years’ imprisonment.

Taking note of Shanbaug’s plight, the court said it would examine whether the right to live granted under Article 21 of the Constitution allows for passive euthanasia (mercy killing). A bench of justices Markandey Katju and Gyan Sudha Misra said there is no law yet that permits mercy killing and it could not involve itself in judicial murder. The court will take a final call after receiving the committee’s report.

In another case, the Karnataka high court had directed the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences to give free treatment to HB Karibasamma, 70, for four weeks and submit a report. Karibasamma had sought permission to end her life, and had challenged the constitutional validity of sections 306 and 309 of the IPC relating to abettment or attempt of suicide. Her petition said the two provisions go against Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution that guarantee equality before law of all individuals and right to life with dignity.

Related Articles


5 thoughts on “Legal stamp for mercy killing?

  1. mercy killing should be legal for those people who were handicapped, workless nd not want ti live life more……bcoz in INDIA every person has their own right.

  2. Life is god given which must be lived meaningfully. The situation of Shanbaug is understandable since she has been suffering for the last 38 years. Concept of Mercy killing requires carefull examination since it should not set any precedent as a tool to end life for all hardships faced by humans. Earlier it was called as Moksha in Puranas. Hopefully learned judges of SC will decide keeping in mind impact of such permission on our country.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s