Common Cause (A Regd. Society)


Union of India

The Indian Constitution

Provisions Involved

Article 21 of the Constitution of India.


In 2005, a registered society named ‘Common Cause’ moved a writ petition in Supreme Court under Art. 32 of Constitution of India to legally permit terminally ill patients to seek death through passive euthanasia. The petitioners contended that ‘right to life’ enshrined under Art. 21 also includes within its ambit ‘right to die with dignity’ and therefore directions were sought to allow a person to execute advance medical directives where a person of sound mind may record his willingness to not be kept alive on life support system where doctors have ascertained that he could not be left alive otherwise.


1. Whether Article 21 of the Constitution which provides ‘Right to Life’ also incorporates within

its purview ‘Right to Die with Dignity’?

2. Should euthanasia be made lawful only through legislation?

3. What is the difference between passive euthanasia and active euthanasia?

4. Whether individuals can be authorized to execute & "Advance Medical Directives", i.e. directives

on medical treatment if they become incompetent to communicate their will in future?



In this case, the apex court observed that the fundamental ‘right of life and liberty’ includes in its ambit the ‘right to die with dignity’. The court permitted the removal of life support system for the terminally ill patients and also recognized the need to execute the advance medical directives. Further, the court laid down directions with respect to execution of advance medial directives and to give effect passive euthanasia.