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IN THE HONORABLE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                        ORIGINAL CIVIL JURISDICTION AT DELHI


                   ...
To


The Hon’ble Chief Justice of India and His Lordship's Companion,
Justices of the Supreme Court of India. The reply to...
medical experts is considered beyond currently available methods of treatment; but it does not
justify a plea for mercy ki...
Besides the objection to the allowance of Mercy killing or euthanasia in the above two
cases of Mr. Tukaram’s children & M...
or euthanasia just because the family members of such persons aren’t in a financial position to cope
with the pressures of...
Case Study & Moot Written Statement On Behalf On Union Of India With Regards To Concept Of Euthanasia
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Case Study & Moot Written Statement On Behalf On Union Of India With Regards To Concept Of Euthanasia

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Case Study & Moot Written Statement On Behalf On Union Of India With Regards To Concept Of Euthanasia

  1. 1. IN THE HONORABLE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA ORIGINAL CIVIL JURISDICTION AT DELHI CIVIL WRIT PETITION NO.101 OF 2010 SAPHALYA (non-governmental organization) Having its registered office at Saphalya, Office No.205, Bandra-Kurla complex Second Floor. Mumbai -40001, Maharashtra, India. On behalf of Mr. & Mrs.Tukaram & Miss.Nirmala …….Petitioner Vs. Union of India ……Respondent
  2. 2. To The Hon’ble Chief Justice of India and His Lordship's Companion, Justices of the Supreme Court of India. The reply to the Writ Petition by the Respondent above named, most respectfully sheweth. WRITTEN SUBMISSION IN REPLY TO THE WRIT PETITION, ON BEHALF OF UNION OF INDIA A. I, Andrea Johnson on behalf of the Union of India do hereby solemnly affirm and state as follows: B. That I am conversant with the facts of the case as borne out by the Petitioner & I am as such competent & authorized on behalf of the Union of India & the Ministry of Health to submit this reply to the writ petition filed by the petitioners. C. That I have read and understood the contents of the Writ petition and the following Para-wise reply on behalf of Union of India is submitted. PARA 1-4- No reply needed- conversant with the facts stated. PARA 5 - It is submitted that the two cases pleaded by the petitioner for mercy killing (euthanasia) are examples of extreme disabilities, namely muscular dystrophy & arthritis, which by
  3. 3. medical experts is considered beyond currently available methods of treatment; but it does not justify a plea for mercy killing as it would amount to an unnatural termination or extinction of life and, therefore, incompatible and inconsistent with the concept of Right to Life enshrined in the constitution of India. The concept of Mercy killing cannot be relevant with the principle of sanctity of life & neither should the right to die be confused with the right to die an unnatural death, curtailing the span of natural life. Euthanasia is illegal as per the provisions of the constitution in India, and there exists no codified law or legislation to permit Mercy killing. The absence of such legislation can subject the allowance of euthanasia to be abused & exploited. The lack of finances or current unavailability of medical procedures to treat the disabilities mentioned in the above two cases cannot & should not be permitted as grounds for mercy killing. If at all such permission is to be granted, it has to be determined in the wake of the facts of each individual case, subject to the opinion of medical experts, strict supervision of the procedure, the full & informed consent of the family members or relatives of such disabled persons (if they themselves are not in the position to give such consent). The state would also like to ensure the families & relatives of such persons, that requests to grant financial assistance in order to ease the financial pressures they deal with in the course of taking care of such persons shall be met, subject to the terms and conditions that may be laid down by the state. PARA 6-9- It is submitted that, the petitioner’s plea for mercy killing be granted under the provisions of article 21 of the Constitution of India & that the right to life and personal liberty must be interpreted to include the ‘right to die’. The state contends that Article 21 of the constitution gives a person the ‘right to live a dignified life’ which can be interpreted to include the ‘right to die with dignity’. But here the right to die with dignity would imply dying a natural death. Therefore, Article 21 nowhere mentions about the right to die an unnatural death. Curtailing the natural span of life of a person who has a certain end to life cannot in any case be read into Article 21. If a person is terminally ill or is suffering from a disability that confines him to an immobile state, it cannot mean that he himself or someone authorized on his behalf can end his life. In either situation, the person performing an act of mercy killing will be charged under the provisions of the IPC for culpable homicide not amounting to murder under section 304 & not for suicide as the petitioner defended, stating the difference between suicide & euthanasia which was deduced by Hon’ble Justice B. L Hansaria in the case of P. Rathinam v. Union of India (1994).
  4. 4. Besides the objection to the allowance of Mercy killing or euthanasia in the above two cases of Mr. Tukaram’s children & Miss. Nirmala, the Respondent would like to bring to the attention of the Honorable court, that the word ‘terminally ill’ has not been defined as yet anywhere, for us to determine what degree & range of disabilities or diseases should fall within its ambit. When the term itself is so ambiguously defined, it is impossible to clearly deduce the concept of euthanasia. In the above two cases, both muscular dystrophy & severe arthritis are accepted as severe forms of disability, but it does not hamper their mental or emotional capacity to live. Miss Nirmala & the children namely Ramesh (16 yrs), Umesh (14 yrs), Suresh (11 yrs) and Mahesh (10yrs) are not living on life support systems, so as to reason that their natural death has already commenced in order to grant permission for euthanasia. Mere lack of financial inability to cope with medical expenses cannot be a ground for granting the permission for mercy killing because their disability is not hampering their mental or emotional faculties, as it should be in the case of terminally ill patients (like people who are in comatose or brain dead & are living on life support systems. The respondent would like to highlight the case of Gian Kaur v. State of Punjab in this regard, where the five judge constitution bench of the Court overruled the judgment given in P. Rathinam's case and held that right to life under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution clearly does not include the right to die or the right to be killed. In the wake of the pendency of the recent case of Aruna Shanbag, where the petitioner has pleaded for mercy-killing, the Supreme Court in response to the petition issued notice stating that “Under the law of the country, we cannot allow a person to die”, the respondent would like to invoke this statement in consonance with the facts of this case & not grant permission for the same in the above two cases. PARA 10- The Respondent is in agreement with the request of the petitioner to frame guidelines & strict legislation for granting permission for mercy killing, if the honorable court is of the opinion that it must permit Euthanasia in extreme cases, keeping in mind the individual facts & needs of the case. However, the state still contends that in the case of Mr. Tukaram’s children & Miss. Nirmala, the plea for mercy killing must not be permitted because it does not meet the criteria of the ambiguously defined term of ‘terminally ill’ & because the persons in question are still capable of their mental & emotional faculties. They cannot be viewed as ‘lifeless’ or deduce that their natural process of death has already commenced. The State strongly discourages resorting to Mercy killing
  5. 5. or euthanasia just because the family members of such persons aren’t in a financial position to cope with the pressures of a severely disabled person, as the likelihood for rampant misuse of such an allowance, is largely present. Nevertheless, regard & consideration must be given to the suggestion put forward by the petitioner that lessening the pain of person’s suffering from such diseases/disabilities must be top priority. And therefore, the respondents humbly request the Honorable Court in consultation with Experts from the healthcare sector to consider the option of establishing Medical centers that specialize in Palliative or Hospice care facilities for such persons, that would provide for relief from suffering, treatment of pain and other distressing symptoms, psychological and spiritual care, a support system to help the individual live as actively as possible, and a support system to sustain and rehabilitate the individual's family. PRAYER OF THE RESPONDENT In the above subject matter, it is prayed that the Honorable Supreme court may consider the prayer of the respondent as stated:- a. That the mercy plea petition for the children of Mr.Tukaram & Miss.Nirmala may be rejected as substantiated by the arguments presented in the court. b. That the honorable court may determine to its satisfaction whether Article 21 of the Constitution should be interpreted to include the ‘Right to die’. c. That the court may define the concept ‘terminally ill’ in consultation with experts from the medical field, so as to avoid confusion over it’s interpretation & inclusion of varying degrees of disabilities & diseases. And also to determine, in which cases, euthanasia should be granted. d. That the court may issue orders to formulate such legislation which establishes the procedure of mercy killing and such other orders as may be deemed necessary based on the facts and circumstances of the case. DATED: 13.02.2010 FILED BY Andrea Johnson (Advocate for the Respondent)

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