SC allows passive euthanasia, upholds 'right to die with dignity'
11 March, 2018, 03:00
However, in a landmark judgement on Friday, 9 March 2018, the Supreme Court of India not only allowed the removal of life support for patients who are suffering from incurable comas or are terminally ill, but also recognized the concept of "living will".
Bhushan said that the apex court verdict "cleared the air on passive euthanasia and living will".
The bench said its guidelines and directives should remain in force until Parliament makes legislation on this issue.
The five-judge bench held that "right to die" peacefully is a part of fundamental right to life as enshrined under Article 21 of Constitution of India.
Virani said she was deeply grateful to the Supreme Court for its verdict. One was meaningless without the other, he said. Passive euthanasia, meanwhile, is a condition where there is withdrawal of medical treatment with the deliberate intention to hasten the death of a terminally-ill patient. "Neither the law nor the Constitution compels an individual who is competent and able to take decisions, to disclose the reasons for refusing medical treatment nor is such a refusal subject to the supervisory control of an outside entity", Justice Chandrachud said. A five-bench judge also defined the rule to implement the procedure in case there would be no living wills.
The CJI, while reading out the judgment, said that though there were four separate opinions of the bench but all the judges were unanimous that the "living will" should be permitted since a person can not be allowed to continue suffering in a comatose state when he or she doesn't wish to live.
Also termed as "advance medical directive", it is a direction issued by an individual that "he or she shall or shall not be given medical treatment in future when or he she becomes terminally ill". M R Rajagopal, chairman of Pallium India and a co-author of the study, said there are an estimated 10 million patients in India requiring palliative care every year.
The court also spelt the guidelines to be followed in cases where there would be no advance directive, saying that such persons can not be "alienated".
Finally the Supreme Court took the initiative of hearing the matter on January 23rd 2014 by a three-judge bench led by then CJI P Sathasivam and the Delhi Medical Council supporting the task it was assigned tofileda copy of the proceedings of International Workshop for Policy Statement on Euthanasia in India, to which the Court reversed its previous verdict.
On January 15, 2016, the Centre had said the 241st report of the Law Commission stated that passive euthanasia should be allowed with certain safeguards and there was also a proposed law -Medical Treatment of Terminally Ill Patient (Protection of Patients and Medical Practitioners) Bill, 2006.
The order that stipulates guidelines to undergo passive euthanasia could be misused, Pakiam said. Medical ethics demand doctors educate patients and relatives about the implications and effectiveness of life support systems like ventilators, but commercial imperatives of hospitals triumph all too often.
Mar 7, 2011: SC, on a separate plea on behalf of Aruna Shanbaug, allows passive euthanasia for the nurse lying in vegetative state at a hospital in Mumbai.
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