Wednesday, 9 March 2011


On 27 November 1973, Aruna Shanbaug, who hails from Karnataka & worked as a nurse in KEM Hospital in Mumbai was strangled & raped by a ward boy of the same hospital, Sohanlal Bhartha Walmiki. Walmiki strangled Aruna using a dog chain which damaged her brain & left her in a vegetative & cortically blind state for the rest of her life. Initially, when this case came to light it appeared to be any other rape case (though to avoid further victimisation of Aruna, Walmiki was charged with attempt to murder & robbery) but no one could have thought that what this act on part of Walmiki did to Aruna would not only leave an indelible mark not only in her life but also in the history of the country.

It has been 37 years since Aruna has been staring at the walls of her room in the KEM Hospital & is being fed forcefully by the nursing staff of the hospital. Though Walmiki was convicted but the punishment he got was for a total of 14 yrs while on the other hand Aruna’s unnecessary suffering has no end in sight.

On behalf of Aruna, Pinki Virani, who is a social activist, filed a petition in the Supreme Court seeking euthanasia. Though the petition was rejected by the court, but the SC bench hearing this case (including Justice Markandey Katju & Justice Gyan Sudha Mishra) passed a remarkable judgement which legalised passive euthanasia in India. Passive euthanasia is withholding medical treatment & removing life-support equipment of terminally-ill patients. However, active euthanasia still remains illegal in India. Active euthanasia involves the use o a lethal substance to terminate a patient’s life.

A question still remains. Is passive euthanasia actually going to make much of a difference to the misery of the patient? A person who is terminally ill, in simpler words is dying slowly & painfully & removing the life support equipment & withholding the medical treatment will only add to the pain. Any patient seeking euthanasia wants to end his life swiftly & with least pain possible & passive euthanasia nowhere does that. It is active euthanasia that can ensure a peaceful end to one’s life & hence the judiciary & the legislature need to consider legalising active euthanasia.

In cases where a patient’s health cannot be restored to the normal state, the family of the person concerned needs someone to look after the patient all the time which may not be possible in case the other person happens to be the bread-winner of the family. Further it takes immense emotional & monetary strength on part of a family to see someone close to their heart going through such plight & take care of the medical expenses which are often back-breaking & may not be affordable for every family.

Rather than looking at this issue from the point of view of may be religion or morals, it is a logical view that is needed. What is the point in prolonging someone’s pain when there is absolutely no hope of the pain coming to an end? No doubt it is a hard decision to take but then no one considers his own life or the life of someone he loves so cheap that one fine day he decides to give it up. It’s only when the dead end is in sight & no alternate route is left that one decides to take the harshest decision of life.


फ्रेंकलिन निगम said...

nice write up

Divya said...

Thnk u sir :)

remijohnson said...
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