Source: The Hitavada      Date: 21 Feb 2018 11:27:37








The very premise of Mumbai -based Lavate couple’s plea of ‘dying in a dignified way’ is grossly erroneous. The elderly couple, 78-year-old Iravati and Narayan, her 87-year-old husband, in December, had sent a plea to President Ram Nath Kovind seeking permission for euthanasia as they did not want a ‘situation where one outlived the other, and was left alone and helpless.’ They are aware of the fact that our laws do not allow mercy killing, and the chances of their plea being turned down is cent percent. So the couple disclosed, to the media, a plan of ‘dying in a dignified way’ stating that the husband will strangulate the wife, he will be arrested by the police for murdering her and will be hanged to death.

In what way is this a dignified way of dying? Doesn't Iravati Lavate, a retired Principal, know that the law, in our country, takes its own course? And that the chances of her husband being hanged to death the very next day of her being strangulated, or the very next month or even the very next year, are very remote. Does she not know the deplorable conditions of our jails where her old husband will be housed till his trial comes to a fruition? Mingling with the criminals in the jail - is that in any way dignified? As of now, both enjoy good health, but the fear of falling ill and being a burden on the society is bothering them, and has forced them to ask for ‘assisted suicide.’ Narayan Lavate’s statement about Article 21 of Constitution that gives us the right to live - hence he has the right to take it away - does not hold any ground under our laws where taking away one’s life is considered a punishable offence. Euthanasia came into limelight in 2011 when Aruna Shanbaug Vs Union of India was heard in the court.

That was a path breaking case and deserved a special look. But the Lavates must understand that Shanbaug was in a permanently vegetative state. Permitting passive euthanasia may be considered, but only for terminally ill patients. Not for someone who is in good health. Their plea of ‘being alone and helpless’ after one passes away is flawed. If they look around, they can see scores of old people, who have lost their spouses but have not lost the will to live life happily. As of now, no legislation has laid down the procedure to permit a person to take his own life. Lavates should give a rational thought to what they are seeking.