Right to Life with Dignity also includes Right to Die with Dignity: Article 21 of Indian Constitution

Author: Vinod Kumawat

LL.M 1st Year
Manipal University, Jaipur


Article 21 of the Constitution of India guarantees only the right to life. As per Article 21, “Every person shall be deprived of his or her personal liberty in conformity with the provisions prescribed by law.” Under Article 21, the right to live does not require the right to death. Right to Life is a tight, normal one. Bombay High Court in State of Maharashtra v. Maruty Sripati Dubal,[1] 1987 Cri LJ 7433 Dubal. The question about the right to die for the very first time comes before Bombay High Court. In this case, the court ruled that the right to live requires the right to die, making Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, that made attempting suicide illegal as a criminal offence. However, in Gian Kumar v. State of Punjab[2], the Supreme Court held that the right to life will not include the right to die or the right to be killed. The right to live is not just a natural right to die, nobody has the right to abnormally end their own life. The author in this article has shown a light on the meaning of the right to life, the constitutionality of the right to die and right to live with dignity.


The right to a dignified life requires the right to a dignified life. If the answer would Be yes, so why before the demise, a cancer patient who was already in the dying phase would suffer tons. Active euthanasia seems to be the only choice in such cases, to get relief from cancer pain. How can we say that he/she is surviving with his integrity, an individual who is housebound and relies on others for each and all in that situation? The word Euthanasia is extracted from “eu” means “well or good” from Greek words “and “thanatos” implies “death” means good death.” The word euthanasia generally means, at the declarative and procedural of the man who needs to die, a deliberate end of life by the other. Euthanasia is typically described as the act of murdering a congenitally sick person out of care and consideration for the pain of that person. It is often considered “mercy killing,” however without his/her permission, many proponents of euthanasia described mercy killing more explicitly as the end of its life of yet another individual. But at the other side, euthanasia is commonly classified into two parts: passive euthanasia and active euthanasia may be called murder or suicide, however passive euthanasia is recognized in some conditions by specialist medical associations and by the law. It is important to re-examine Aruna Ramchandra Shanbaug v. Union of India[1] and set up an emergency panel to identify situations whereby active euthanasia is the ideal consequence of victims to die in peace without any tolerating any discomfort. The Constitution of India guarantees all its people the right to life.” The persistent, already dispute on whether it is also able to understand ‘right to die’ in this clause remains in the air. But on the other side, with an increasing emphasis on the informed consent of patients in the medical profession, a conflicting reaction has been given to the idea of assisted suicide in India.

Euthanasia is a term that could be said to be identical to suicide, although it is entirely different. It is a different act from suicide altogether. Thus, the difference between ‘assisted suicide’ and suicide must be known. Suicide means an act of killing innocent yourself, as per the Dictionary of Oxford


Under part III of the Indian Constitution right to life is mentioned. To lead an honourable and satisfying life, fundamental rights are important. The Right to Article 21 is perhaps the most significant fundamental right in the Indian Constitution. It is a right that includes the right to legal assistance, the right to a safe environment and an overabundance of other rights within its wider view. Even in India, whether it is voluntary euthanasia or involuntary euthanasia, what the situation will be is never permissible but illegal here, but with the exception of passive euthanasia, it is a criminal offence under the India Penal Code. Article 21 is meant to avoid the violation of a person’s personal liberty and the depravity of a person’s life, except in compliance with the procedure provided for by statute. Building on the sense of Article 21, it is evident that perhaps the privilege provides immunity against State also but if any crime is performed by any private person in violation of that article, that infringement does not comply with the criteria of Article 21. In the case of Munn v. Illinois,[2] it all began with the U.S. Supreme Court, that held that life is worth much more than animal nature. In a constitutional framework, the Supreme Court approved this in the case of Kharak Singh v. State of U.P.[3]

Under Article 21, the right to live does not require the right to death. But when people with terminal illnesses including people with cancer know that he only has a few days in his hand to live his life, should the right to die with dignity be permitted in those instances? That is, death without suffering and pain. So, he could not suffer the pain and lose his faith and love for himself. In such situations, a person suffering with such a dangerous illness should have the right to die.

It respects human life’s sanctity. In some cases, the issue on whether the ‘right to life’ granted under Article 21 of India also includes the ‘right to die or the right not to live’ has been a subject of discussion. In simplistic words, death means the death of life or the final disposal, and it can both occur naturally or unusually. A person may die abnormally either by committing an act on oneself which will cause the suicide death, or for any other persons if it does with the wrong intention then it will be considered as a homicide.

In the present case, the court also defined Article 21 of the Indian Constitution and asserted that perhaps the freedom to protest under the same provision also involves the right to die and therefore maintained that Article 21 of Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code was also violative. During the first time, the Supreme Court determined if the right to article 21 also requires the right to die in the case of P Rathinam v. Union of India[4]

A court has stated in the various cases that it could only be willingly executed by an individual of a reasonable intelligence both capable of communication and who is fully conscious of executing a living will. Will of should truly display that approval of the individual who wishes to end his own life by withdrawing medical help but should also contain guidelines as to when the medical assistance is removed when no ongoing medical service was rendered.

The popular assumption among the world’s numerous nations is that the primary principle of performance leadership but not the loss of life is to care for individual health and freedom. Consequently ‘Right to Die’ disputes this assertion. If the right to life (Article 21 of the Indian Constitution) is the most precious right enshrined in our Legislature, how does the similar Constitution accept the right to die?


In Aruna Ramchandra Shanbaug v. Union of India,[5] the honourable Indian Supreme court made a clear differentiation regarding Active and Passive Euthanasia. In Active Euthanasia, something will be done to solve the person’s health. Except for where permitted by the legislature, it is deemed to be a crime all around the nation. Active euthanasia is also illegal in India and a felony pursuant to Indian Penal Code Section 302 or 304.

For example, some other individual could be actively or passively engaged in the death of the person that gave consent to be killed either by supplying a way of lowering life, a doctor deliberately offers a sustained momentum of a medication on the consent of his patient/client itself consumes that medicine and end his existence or by influencing the patient to end his own life. It has become important to consider the difference regarding assisted suicide and euthanasia in this context.

Voluntary euthanasia implies an action through which a person knowingly assists another person and helps him commit suicide by supplying him with the means to commit suicide, such as the previous example, where a doctor gives a patient a fatal overdose on his or her agreement to attempt murder is assisted suicide by a doctor.

Passive euthanasia has been further broken down into voluntary and non-voluntary euthanasia again. Assisted suicide is where all the patient receives consent. And also, in Non-voluntary euthanasia, for example, when he/she is in depression, permission is invalid due to the patient’s condition.

Euthanasia is legal in various countries like Australia, Spain, Canada, Belgium and the Netherlands.  


Euthanasia converts into healthy death, basically. Euthanasia, in the modern age, refers to the deliberate killing someone whose life is no certainly valuable living. It’s not been stated anywhere else in the rules and rulings that euthanasia refers to individuals and not to persons. For this purpose, the law has claimed that assisted dying could have a catastrophic effect on society.

It was discussed that perhaps the right to lead a dignified life was bestowed on Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, and it should always include a dimension about what occurs whenever an individual doesn’t really have the ability to survive a less dignified life. Euthanasia is a process whereby a humane and honourable death may also be given to an individual. There is a need to be vigilant with respect to the application of euthanasia and the judicial review listed by the courts for the application of passive euthanasia.



[1] 1987 Cri LJ 7433 Dubal

[2] (1992)2 SCC 648

[3] (2011) 4 SCC 524

[4] 94 U.S. 113 (1876)

[5] AIR 1963 SC 1295

[6] AIR 1994 SC 1844

[7] (2011) 4 SCC 524


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