The Indian government has readied the Passive Euthanasia Bill and that throws open the debate about acceptance of a ‘Living Bill’.
Aruna Shanbaug's shrivelled, misshapen body curled up on the hospital bed has been one of the most unforgettable and heart-wrenching images in recent Indian history. Her case is well-known. Once a nurse in Mumbai's King Edward Memorial Hospital, Shanbaug was asphyxiated with a dog chain and sodomised by a ward boy, Sohanlal Bhartha Walmiki. This gruesome assault irrevocably changed Shanbaug's life forever. She was no more the lively nurse. Shanbaug's case also raked up the debate on euthanasia, the practice of methodically ending the life of a terminally and irreversibly ill person in order to alleviate their suffering. While the Supreme Court had approved passive euthanasia in Shanbaug's case, the KEM Hospital staff, more her family than anyone else, wanted to keep her alive. For 42 years, Shanbaug lived as a human vegetable before finally succumbing to pneumonia in 2015.