Common Cause ‘A’ Registered Society vs. Union of India

Common Cause ‘A’ Registered Society vs. Union of India

Common Cause ‘A’ Registered Society vs. Union of India

(Right to life with dignity under Article 21 includes a right to die with dignity)

By:- JashanPreet kaur, student at Maharishi Markandeshwar deemed to be University ,Mullana 


CJI Dipak Misra………………………………………………………………….………..………………………( Majority Judgement)

Justice AM Khanwilkar ……………………………………………………..…………………………………(Majority Judgement)

Justice DY Chandrachud……………………………………………………………………………………(concurring Judgement)

Citation: WP (C) 215/2005

Date of judgement: 9th  March 2018

Case description:

The Supreme Court held that right to live with quality includes right to die with quality to smoothen out dying process for Terminally ill cases or cases in Permanent Vegetative State( PVS). Supreme court set detailed guidelines and directives for conducting unresistant euthanasia. This judgment permits the junking of life support systems for the cases who are terminally ill and also for those who are under some incorrigible complaint or to those cases who are in a coma for so long. Further, the court also allowed the individualities to decide against artificial life support and also to fete the need for creating a living will.

Background –

A Writ solicitation that was filed by the Common Beget Society in the Supreme Court in relation to the debacle of Euthanasia and its legitimacy in our country.

• assassination , is also called as mercy payoff. act or practice of easily putting to death, a person who’s suffering from painful and incorrigible complaint or incapacitating physical complaint or allowing them to die.

 • Assassination is of two type-Active Euthanasia, wherein death is brought by an act and Passive Assassination where death is brought by an elision. assassination has always been a matter of debate, not only in our country, but in all the countries around the world. while some of the countries have legalized Assassination , both active and unresistant, some have different daises on both, incompletely legalized and some have completely banned and condemned the bare practice of self-murder or then Assassination. It’s illegal as it can be interpreted as attempt to commit self-murder which is punishable under Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. 

• The Writ solicitation was filed in 2005 under Composition 32 of the Indian Constitution with respects to the iniquity of Section 309 and Section 306 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. Composition 21 of the Indian Constitution which gives the citizens of our country Right to Live and under the Right to Life were bandied in deep and 241st Indian Law Commission report on Passive Euthanasia in the environment of Composition 21 of the Indian Constitution was also appertained. The supplicant emphasis on” living will” which is about making a clear choice and want in advance while being in a healthy and able state of mind and about a unborn event during which it isn’t possible to make a rational decision.

 • The supplicant seeks to end the pain and agony both physical as well as internal of an existent who becomes unable of expressing his view. The issue as to whether the right to die forms a part of the guarantee under Composition 21 was first raised before the Apex Court in P. Rathinamv. Union of India’, wherein a indigenous challenge was raised to Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 i.e., attempt to commit self-murder. 

• The Court held that since abecedarian rights have both positive and negative content, the right to life would include the right to die and thus, Section 309 of the IPC was unconstitutional. later, in Gian Kaur v . State of Punjab, a challenge was raised to the constitutionality of Section 306 of the IPC, i.e., assist to self-murder. Herein, counting on P . Rathinam’. it was argued that assist to self-murder couldn’t be penalised as the abettor was only aiding in enforcement of a abecedarian right. 

• The Court set aside its ruling in P . Rathinam and editorialized that all abecedarian rights aren’t the same and hence the same standard mustn’t be applied to them. The matter of Euthanasia came into light when Aruna Shanbaug, a nanny in KEM sanitarium, Mumbai when she was severely ravished and sustained injuries that left her in a endless vegetative state. 

• She was watched for by the sanitarium staff and nurses over a veritably long period of time, still there was no enhancement in her condition. Pinki Virani, a social activist, filed a writ solicitation on her behalf seeking authorization for euthanasia for Aruna Shanbaug, still, it was held that she had no locus to file the solicitation as she couldn’t be given the status of a next friend.

Issues raised:

1. however Article 21 which pledge right to life also includes the Right to Die ? 

2. Whether unresistant euthanasia should be allowed on the living will of the case?

 3. Whether there’s any difference between active euthanasia and the unresistant euthanasia?

 4. Whether the existent has the right to refuse medical treatment including pullout from life- saving bias? Pleaders Arguments.

Petitioners Arguments:

• The pleaders argued that every Date 2023-12-23 Words 982 Characters 5967 Page 1 of 2 existent has a right to tone- determination, and therefore should be permitted to choose their own fate. The ultramodern medical technology has set up out so numerous medicines and drugs that unnecessarily protract life of causing a lot of torture and agony to the cases and his her cousins thereof.

 • They argued that it’s better to die rather than being under patient pain and suffering using drug that doesn’t cure but prolongs the life of cases.

 • In cases of incorrigible, degenerative. disabling or enervating condition a person should be allowed to die in quality as in maturity of the cases the mercy solicitation is filed by the victims. or the family members or any similar caretakers. The burden upon the family is so huge and cuts across colorful disciplines similar as fiscal, emotional, time, physical, internal and social aspects. 

• Right to refuse medical treatment is well honored in law. including medical treatment that sustains or everlasting life. The right to renounce treatment gives a way for unresistant euthanasia. 

• Euthanasia in terminally ill cases provides an occasion to endorse for organ donation. This, in turn, would help numerous cases suffering from organ failure staying for transplantation. Passive euthanasia not only gives an individual the Right to die for the terminally ill, but also Right to life’ for the organ- indigent cases. 

Respondents Arguments:

1. The repliers argued that not all deaths are painful. The Right to life’ under Art. 21 is a natural right inherited on birth by every citizen, but euthanasia/ self-murder is an unnatural termination or extermination of life and thus it’s hostile and inconsistent with the conception of’ right to life’ and therefore Right to life doesn’t include right to die.

 2. It’s the duty of the State to cover life and euthanasia would undermine the croaker ‘s duty to give care and save life of the cases. 

3. Allowing euthanasia will discourage the hunt and invention of new cures and treatments for the terminally ill and therefore there will not be any prospect with  regard to the discovery of possible cure for the complaint in near future. 

4. Euthanasia would weaken society’s respect for the sanctity of life. 

 5. There’s vacuity of druthers , similar as conclusion of active treatment, combined with the use of effective pain relief 


• The issue first started with the case of P Rathinam v Union of India & Anr. wherein, a two- judge bench of the Supreme Court while dealing with the challenge to Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860( IC)( attempt to commit self-murder) as being violative of Composition 14 and 19 of the Constitution, held that abecedarian rights have positive and negative aspects. 

• Consequently, right to live must include the right to die, hence, it concluded by saying that the right to live, which Article 21 speaks of can be said to bring in its route to the right not to live a forced life.

 • still, this decision didn’t stay a precedent for long and a indigenous bench in Gian Kaur v State of Punjab over turned the decision in the P. Raithnam case to hold that the right to life didn’t include the right to die as understood under Composition 21. 

• The indigenous bench in that case was faced with the challenge to section 306 of the IPC relating to assist of self-murder which sought to calculate on the earlier ruling in P. Raithnam case held section 309 of the IPC being non constitutional. 

• The indigenous bench held that the Right to Life is a natural right embodied in Composition 21 but self-murder is an unnatural termination or extermination of life and, thus. inharmonious and inconsistent with the conception of right to life. 

• The indigenous bench further stated that the earlier decision had failed to make a distinction between negative aspect of the right that was involved for which no positive or overt act was to be done. 

• While dwelling into this debate. the indigenous bench tried to explain that saintship of life or the right to live with quality is of no backing to determine the compass of Composition 21 for deciding whether the guarantee of right to life therein includes the right to die and was therefore, always drawn into the discussion of Euthanasia though it tried hard to part itself from the same.

 • The bench tried to clarify that the right to die with quality at the end of life isn’t to be confused or equated with the right to die an unnatural death abridging the natural span of life. While dealing with this issue the Court cited the English case of Airedale NHS Trust v mellow, wherein, it was held that Euthanasia can be made legal through legislation. 

• counting on the Gian Kaur case. a two judge bench of the Supreme Court in the Aruna Shanbaug case upheld the validity of unresistant euthanasia which entails withdrawing of life support measures or withholding of medical treatment for continuance of life and for which no positive act is needed as opposed to active euthanasia containing the use of murderous substances or forces to beget the purposeful death of a person by direct intervention, which as per the three Judge bench which appertained the matter to the present indigenous bench was grounded on the wrong premise that the Constitution Bench in Gian kaur had upheld the same. 

• The Supreme Court has clarified that the judgement in Gian Kaur case can not be understood to have stated that unresistant euthanasia can only be introduced through legislation. It further held that in Gian Kaur, the word” life” in Article 21 has been demonstrated as life with mortal quality and it takes within its dimension the” right to die with quality” being part of the” right to live with quality” 

• The education of this exposition is that a dying man who’s terminally ill or in a patient Date 2023-12-23 Words 960 Characters 5622 Page 1 of 2 vegetative state can make a choice of unseasonable extermination of his life as being a hand of Composition 21 of the Constitution. However, there’s no necessity of any legislation for effectuating that abecedarian right and more so his natural mortal right, If that choice is guaranteed being part of Composition 21. 

• Indeed, that right can not be an absolute right but subject to nonsupervisory measures to be specified by a suitable legislation which, still, must be reasonable restrictions and in the interest of the general public. The Court therefore, clarified that Composition 21 covers within its dimension only unresistant euthanasia and not active euthanasia. 

• Eventually, the Court goes on to say that the right to live with quality also includes the smoothening of the process of dying in case of a terminally ill case or a person in endless vegetative state with no stopgap of recovery and that’s why it also recognises Advance Directives akin to a living Will’ through which persons of sound mind and in a position to communicate can indicate the decision relating to the circumstances in which withholding or pullout of medical treatment can be resorted to.

• Elaborate procedure and safeguards for executing similar Advance Directives have been handed in the judgment with the essential constituents being that the treating croaker of a terminally 1ll or case witnessing prolonged medical treatment shall relate the matter to a Medical Board conforming of the Head of the Treating Department and at least three experts from the fields of general drug, cardiology, neurology, nephrology, psychiatry or oncology with experience in critical care and with overall standing in the medical profession.

 • The decision of the Medical Board shall be communcated to the Jurisdictional Collector who shall also constitute a Medical Board comprising the Chief District Medical Officer of the concerned quarter as the Chairman and three expert croakers in the same field mentioned over.

 • The Chairman of the Medical Board shall later take concurrence of the factor of the Advance Directive or the guardian named therein, shall communicate his decision to the jurisdictional Judicial Magistrate First Class who Shall also authorise perpetration of the decision of the Medical Board. The Court has also laid down the procedure for altering the Advance Directive and for cases where there’s no Advance Directive.

 • therefore, the Supreme Court has eventually ruled that the interest of the case shall stamp the interest of the State in guarding the life of its citizens and that right to live with quality attaches throughout the life of the existent. 

Case Referred:

•P. Rathinam V. Union of India, 19945- In this particular  case, the Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 was scraped off and supported self-murder was made legal. In that particular  time this was considered  to be prudent and according to the time 

•Smt. Gian Kaur V. State of Punjab 19969- The five- bench judge, headed by Justice J.S. Verma, brought the Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code 1860 back and the judgement that was passed stated that, under the dimension of Composition 21 of the Indian Constitution the part of Right to Live only includes the aspect of life and thereof and nowhere includes the aspect of right to die. It was because of this particular  case that unresistant Euthanasia and supported self-murder were made unlawful. 

• Aruna Ramachandra Shaunbaug V. Union of India °- This was the last turning law point case, till date, in the aspect of Euthanasia. The opinions made in the Smt. Gian Kaur case were fully capsized and unresistant Euthanasia was made legal. This can be considered as a compliment case to what our case is, the main difference is that in this case, unresistant Euthanasia was made legal and, in our case. the aspect of right to die with quality was sort of included under the marquee of right to live with quality. I’ve bandied the same in the analysis part. 

• Airedale N.H.S Trust V. mellow’, This was a case that was decided in the United Kingdom House of Lords and was commodity that was considered as a standard in unresistant Euthanasia and Euthanasia in all, around the world.

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