Euthanasia in India – Suggestions for a good practice

The biggest debate in India in the coming weeks will be over the legality of euthanasia (mercy killing). Some argue that it should be made legal in India while some argue that making it legal will lead to biased decisions on the lives of unfortunate individuals, who in most cases will not have an opinion of their own. Some people oppose it as they are totally against any form of taking lives.

I see a point in all these arguments. While taking one’s life is not desirable (although medically assisted), at least in some cases I have felt the need for an intervention for the good of the patients and their relatives. In a corrupt country such as India, all kinds of manipulations and foul plays can happen in any system. So before considering to making it legal, it is of paramount importance to consider the legal, medical, and social aspects of euthanasia.

In my opinion, euthanasia should be allowed legally in India subject to certain clauses. The clauses are needed to arrive at a practice that is safe and free from the possibility of manipulation. First, the patient should be suffering from an extremely bad, rare, painful, or unconscious condition which is incurable. Second, at least three specialist hospitals should certify that the condition of the patient is irrevocable and that the patient cannot live (or return to) a normal life. It goes without saying that the doctors judging the health condition of the patient should have adequate experience and reputation. Third, the referred case should be studied by an executive committee constituted by experts from the Indian Medical Association, National Human Rights Commission, National Commission for Women, and at least one retired judge of the Supreme Court. The committee should  consider aspects such as the patient’s age, family, social status, legal and financial commitments, and health condition, and recommend whether to grant euthanasia or not. All these should come under the union ministry of law and justice.