Active euthanasia contemplates putting individuals to painless death for merciful reasons, as when a doctor administers a lethal dose of medication to a patient, while passive euthanasia involves not doing something to prevent death, as when doctors refrain from using devices necessary to keep alive a terminally ill patient or a patient in a persistent vegetative state.
As far as legal position on euthanasia in India is concerned, it is quite evident that euthanasia is illegal. In case of active euthanasia there is an intention on the part of the doctor to kill the patient, which would attract clause first of section 300 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. However, there is a valid consent of the patient, here again the doctor cannot escape from liability and his case would fall under the Exception 5 to the said section.
Further the cases of passive euthanasia or non-voluntary euthanasia would be struck by proviso one to section 92 of the IPC and thus be rendered illegal. It is not out of context to mention here that one should not be confused euthanasia with assisted suicide.
So far as law in India on the aspect of assisted suicide is concerned, it is clear like crystal that abetment of suicide is an offence expressly punishable under sections 305 and 306 of the IPC and after the Supreme Court’s landmark judgment in Gian Kaur v. State of Punjab it is now settled that the “right to life” guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution does not by any stretch of imagination include the “right to die”.
The position in this regard in other countries is different from India. In Netherlands euthanasia is legalised. Same is the case in Australia. In England also, euthanasia is allowed, while laws in U.S.A. maintain distinction between passive and active euthanasia. While the former is prohibited, the latter is allowed.
Now, coming to the issue whether euthanasia is legalized or not. There are two views on this issue. Supporters of euthanasia are of the view that society should acknowledge the rights of patients and to respect the decisions of those, who choose euthanasia.
Patients, who are suffering from terminal disease, become hopeless and disappointed to such an extent that they want to end their lives rather than to continue the same under such pathetic circumstances. Every person has a right to live a dignified life and the plight of the person causes him to live a tortuous life, then he should be allowed to end such tortuous existence.
On the contrary, the opponents of euthanasia emphasise that health-care providers are obligated to prohibit killing as euthanasia is inconsistent with the roles of nursing, caring and healing. That is why society has no right to kill them and thereby deny them the chance of future recovery.
At the end, we can conclude that euthanasia should be allowed. A terminally ill patient, who has no chance of recovery rather to endure unbearable pain for the remaining years of his life, should be allowed to die so that, spending money, facilities, and time on such a person would be of no utility but the waste of the same.