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  • Upayan Chakraborty

RIGHT TO DIE AND DIE WITH DIGNITY

We all know about the right to life which is provided to us under Article 21 of The Indian

Constitution with the protection of personal liberty. However, there are certain exceptions where this right is ceased. The right to Life is just not the physical existence of the person but the right to live with human dignity. This much knowledge is available to a layman. But, they are unaware of the fact that Article 21 includes one more right and that is the right to die. Now the question is whether a person is allowed to enjoy this right? There are many Indian cases regarding this particular right and in each judgment the verdict is different. Now you will think that committing suicide is legal, but no for that, we have separate punishment under Sec 309 of the Indian Penal Code,1980. In one judgment this section of IPC was struck down as unconstitutional. The Judges observed that the death wish is not unnatural but unusual. Now there may be several circumstances where a person

will desire to die for example – Disease, failure in life, sense of shame in life, etc. So everyone should have the freedom of taking their own life. In many countries attempt to commit suicide is not a crime. But our country finds that the right to die is not a fundamental right and hence Sec 309 is not unconstitutional. Don't confuse between "right to die" with dignity and "right to die" an unnatural death as both are different. "Right to die" with dignity relates to the procedure followed by people of a different religion as their final rites for the dear ones. In the end, the court found that sec 309 of IPC is not violative of Article 21.


EUTHANASIA

Also referred to as mercy killing is that the process of giving painless death to a patient suffering from a painful and incurable disease or in an irreversible coma. In 2018, the Supreme Court of India announced that the government would honor "Living Wills". A "living will" is a written declaration of a patient where he/she declares the way he/she wants to be treated and what to be done when he/she will not be able to express informed consent. However, there is a difference between active euthanasia and passive euthanasia. When intentionally a lethal dose of the sedative is given to someone it is considered active euthanasia. On the other hand, when life-sustaining treatments are stopped for the quick death of the person it is considered passive euthanasia. Hence euthanasia encourages the movement of "die with dignity" as it allows people to decide how they want to end their life. Some people simply don't want to avail the long dying process and become a burden on

their loved ones. In India passive euthanasia is legal under strict guidelines.



CURRENT SCENARIO

Our country is going through a pandemic. Noble Corona Virus is haunting everyone with its fear, many people are losing their life or their loved ones daily. Previously we used to wait in queue for fees payment, tickets, bill payment, etc. Now we are waiting in queue to cremate our loved ones. In every crematorium, we can see more than 100+ dead bodies waiting for their turn. The chimneys of those crematoriums have started melting. But what about the right to die with the dignity of the deceased? Yes, I am aware that during these tough times it is very silly to ask this question but I am also aware that in Covid-19: Guidelines On Dead Body Management by the Government of India Ministry of Health & Family Welfare Directorate General of Health Services (EMR Division).


At the crematorium/ Burial ground, it is stated that the relatives may be allowed to see the face of the deceased for one last time and that all the rituals which do not require touching of the body can be allowed. In some of the recent news I have observed that the bodies are being buried together or else I should say are being thrown in a pit, in a single pyre more than two to three bodies are burning together, in some hospitals without informing the family of the deceased the dead body is taken for cremation, due to lack of burial grounds or huge line in the crematorium, people decided to throw those bodies in the river, if dies in the house no one is ready to give a shoulder to the corpse due to fear of catching the virus, the corpse is lying in the house for more than a day. I want to ask a question to them, do those innocent souls deserve this? Don't they have a right to die with dignity? Just think about the relatives who are unaware of the fact that their loved one's corpse is floating in a river or is inhumanly thrown in a pit or is not being able to burn solo. Hence, people should be aware that they and their family members have a right to die a dignified death with proper rituals and proper way, and not like the current inhuman process. The Government should look after this and circulate a new guideline including strict execution of the points mentioned in it, and if violated strict immediate actions should be taken.

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