Will SC allow Aruna Shaunbaug to die?

Aruna Shanbaug
New Delhi, Mar 7: For Aruna Shanbaug, the fate of this life of her has become everybody else's business. First a pervert, left her to rot after satisfying his lust and since then her life has never really been her. As the Supreme Court embarks on the verge of a less historic but more humane judgment, for once again the decision of, on and in her life will be anybody's except her.

For 37 years, this woman, once a staff nurse in the King Edward Memorial College, Parel, Mumbai has been in a vegetative state due to a disgusting man's carnal desire. Though her colleagues and the hospital have shown the world what humanity really mean by caring for her in the best possible manner, the real question always was for how long should she survive.

Housed in the KEM hospital at present, the hospital is taking very good care of Aruna who was working in the very same hospital as nurse till Nov 27, 1973. She was sodomised by a ward boy after being chained that led to obstructed oxygen supply to the brain. She has been in a complete vegetative state since then.

The plea for euthanasia was submitted by author Pinky Virani, who is Aruna's friend and was rallying for 'right to die' for Aruna who has underwent a hell of a lot. She has also written a book 'Aruna's Story' on the plight of the victim.

The mercy killing plea was opposed by Dr Sanjay Narhari Oak, KEM hospital director whose diligent staff have been caring for Aruna for such a long time. "This is a case of passive euthanasia and not active. The hospital staff is really her best friend. Although we respect Pinki Virani, it is the hospital staff who has fed her, washed her even cut her nails. They feel that she is one of us and we greatly respect the KEM hospital. What they have done is marvellous," the bench noted.

The Senior counsel T R Andhiarujina acting as amicus curiae and Pallabh Sisodia, appearing for the staff of the KEM hospital had also vehemently opposed the mercy killing of Aruna. The Attorney General meanwhile commented that the Parliament had rejected the recommendations of the Law Commission that suggested euthanasia for terminally ill patients.

“Take a hypothetical situation, a person is in a coma after a car accident and kept alive by artificial methods for several weeks. The family cannot afford his treatment, can the son take a decision to end his father"s life?" Justice Katju asked Justice Vahanvati after fears that the mercy killing plea could act as a precedent for victims caught in property disputes.

An affidavit had quoted, “The very idea of withholding food or putting her to sleep by active medication nurses... is extremely difficult for anybody in the hospital to accept. Aruna has probably crossed 60 years and would one day meet her natural end. The doctors, nurses and staff of KEM are determined to take care of her till her last breath by natural process."

It has taken the apex court ages to determine what should be done to her and understandably so as the decision is in a country where life, whoever it may be has always been considered precious. But sadly, the modesty of a woman is never considered on the same scale. Or else, how do you comprehend the fact that the pervert who raped Aruna and left her in this condition to rot, was freed after 14 years while she has been suffering for the last 37 years, and that too for no fault of her own.

Whatever the SC decides, it shall certainly not be Aruna's. But the apex court can do well to give a verdict that not only relieves Aruna from her pains, but also ensure that the perpetrator of her sufferings and those of his ilk are never allowed to go scott-free.

Whatever has happened to her is really despicable, but whatever is now decided on her, should determine how the nation fares to protect its women and downtrodden.

OneIndia News

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