Nilanjana
Common Cause v. Union of India and Anr.
Nilanjana Ganguly 27 Jan 2020

Common Cause v. Union of India and Anr.

CASE - COMMON CAUSE V. UNION OF INDIA AND ANR.

 

CASE BRIEF

 

FACTS :

In the year 2005 a public interest litigation was filed by an NGO known as Common Cause in Supreme Court of India. The petition was filed only for one reason and that is seeking directions for legal recognition of living will and for the system of certification of passive euthanasia. It was also found out that various members of society wrote letters to various department of government but no response was given by the government. Any person who is suffering from serious illness and where there is no chance of improvement or any person who is depended on artificial life support system and unwanted painful treatment is given, such people should be given the relief from pain by doing the process of passive euthanasia. The petitioner also requested that there should be a legal recognition of living will for the patient who wanted to conduct passive euthanasia.

The main motive of this petition is to end the life of the patient with his/her consent through the process of passive euthanasia so that the patient does not suffer from any illness or disease which cannot be cured and also give relief from mental as well as physical pain. But the government of India reported that the idea of living will was unacceptable and doctors have the duty to save the life of the patient.

 

ISSUES :

1.      Whether passive euthanasia should be permitted on the living will of patient.

2.      Whether right to live with dignity covers the right to die as well in cases where patient has no hope of recovery.

 

JUDGEMENT :

In the current case ‘Common Cause vs Union of India the Supreme Court held that right to life under article 21 of Constitution of India also include the smooth and easy process of dying of a terminally ill person or who is in a constant state without any recovery. However in an earlier case Gian Kaur vs State of Punjab the Supreme Court held that euthanasia and suicide both are illegal in India. It was also held that Article 21 of Constitution of India only consist of right to life and it does not include right to die. But in other cases such as Aruna Ramchandra Shanbaug vs Union of India it was held that passive euthanasia can be allowed in exceptional circumstances.

However in the current Case the Supreme Court is in a view of making proper laws and regulations through legislature for passive euthanasia.  Article 21 of the Constitution which deals with right to life and liberty must be changed and interpreted with the changing need of the society and also right to live with dignity must also include right to die with dignity and it must fall under fundamental rights which has been mentioned in the Constitution. The Court has laid down various rules and regulations regarding the execution of living will and their authentication which can be done by the magistrate. Any person who is mentally competent enough can execute the free will of passive euthanasia. Though the medical practitioners are not allowed to end a patient’s life with any kind of drugs, medicine etc. but if a person who does not want to live with the help of any artificial support, he/she is permitted to exercise his/her legal right to die with dignity.

Thus, to conclude, Supreme Court of India allowed the writ petition which is being made on behalf of the above mentioned NGO.

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