Analysis of Judgment: Aruna Ramchandran Shanbaug v. Union of India

The appellant was a staff nurse at a hospital before she was raped by a fellow staff and was put to persistent vegetative state where she was there for more than 35 years and the next friend to the appellant filed a petition before the apex court to allow her for euthanasia. But the Hon’ble court held that, when the following conditions are reached then only we can accord someone to be dead:-

(1) openness to the world, that is receptivity to stimuli and signals from the surrounding environment,”

(2) “the ability to act upon the world to obtain selectively what it needs.

(3) “the basic felt need that drives the organism to act … to obtain what it needs.iilsA

In case of euthanasia on the observance of the court the condition is slightly different. In these cases it is believed, that a determination of when it would be right or fair to disallow resuscitation of a person who is incapable of expressing his or her consent to a termination of life. The invention of the ventilator and the defibrillator in the 1920’s altered this understanding, it being now possible that the cessation of respiration and circulation, though critical, would no longer be irreversible. Hence, a present-day understanding of death as the irreversible end of life must imply total brain failure, such that neither breathing, nor circulation is possible any more. Thus it is much of value now to understand that, the judicial development in this regard has achieved tremendous growth and this concept of allowing a person who is going through mental as well as physical trauma not only for his soul body but also for the family itself. As it is evident from the case of Aruna Shanbaug, her family has deserted her for no cause of her. But in the Indian society where these like cases are dealt with much delicacy and where there is always the notion about the social feeling rather than the feeling of individual is given much importance, in these circumstances the court held that, the individual sanction should always be given priority not only as a matter of public opinion but also as a matter of Constitutional sanction.

Euthanasia is widely in operation throughout the world but the menace is that it has never been come to the lime light. The only thing which is to prevent such an action is that, fear of persecution. Doctors in most of the cases are not allowed to go on with the medical treatment but more so, they virtually allow euthanasia. But it is of much importance to notice here that, the magnitude of suffering and the mode of terminating that suffering is to be decided by the competent person who is in virtual contact with the field. In this regard, a bill has been introduced in Lok Sabha titled “The Euthanasia (Permission and Regulation) Bill 2007” by C. K. Chandrappan, to provide to provide compassionate, humane and painless termination of life of individuals who have become completely and permanently invalid due to suffering from incurable disease.

[1] Available at,, last visited on: 20/8/2012.

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