wnol.info March 22 2018

Supreme Court allows passive euthanasia in its landmark decision

March 22 2018, 05:41 | Irvin Gilbert

SC allows passive euthanasia, upholds 'right to die with dignity'

According to the apex court passive euthanasia is permissible with guidelines. SC said 'Human beings have the right to die with dignity.'

On Friday, the Supreme Court of India passed a landmark ruling legalising passive euthanasia by recognising the right to a dignified death. Watch this video to know more about the news.

The top court said that there should be guidelines for drafting "living wills" and authenticating them.

There have been several instances of people approaching the court or the government seeking euthanasia for their near and dear ones including a man from Agra seeking death for six of his children diagnosed with a rare disease.

"The court has held that an individual has a full right to decide that he should not take any kind of medical treatment or that he should not be kept alive by artificial life support systems", Bhushan added.

However, on 25 February 2014, a three-judge bench of Supreme Court of India had termed the judgment in the Aruna Shanbaug case to be "inconsistent in itself" and has referred the issue of euthanasia to its five-judge Constitution bench.

Right of a dying man to die with dignity and in the case of a terminally-ill patient constitutes a right to live with dignity. Thus accordingly, a person has an option to give it in writing that in case he/she is in incurable coma stage or a vegetative state, they should be allowed to end their lives, if they wish to. "Neither the law nor the constitution can compel an individual who is competent and able to take decisions to disclose reasons for refusing medical treatment nor is such a refusal subject to the supervisory control of an outside entity", said Justice DY Chandrachud. The couple is still hoping that the President may grant their wish for active euthanasia, wherein a person is killed with an overdose of pain-killers. With passive euthanasia, the assumption is the patient is anyway going to die.

The draft Bill provides protection to patients and medical practitioners (from liability) for withdrawing medical treatment of terminally ill patients.

The decision was in response to a petition by a non-government organisation, which argued that a person with terminal illness should be given the right to refuse being placed on life support. Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for petitioner NGO Common Cause, had argued that safeguards were needed while taking a decision by medical boards to withdraw life support of a patient.

Henceforth, no patient will be forced to remain in a permanently vegetative state after the doctors fail to revive him/her, even with most advanced medical aid.

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