Case Study & Moot Written Statement On Behalf On Union Of India With Regards To Concept Of Euthanasia
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
Union of India ……Respondent
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
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
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).
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
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
(Advocate for the Respondent)