Supreme Court allows passive euthanasia

Passive Euthanasia verdict Supreme court’s landmark decision embraced by people

This historical order was passed by a five-judge Constitution bench in which Chief Justice (CJI) Dipak Misra and Justices A K Sikri, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan participated. The guidelines will operate till a legislation is put in place.

"This is indeed a landmark judgement as it allows those dying to leave with dignity as well as respects their wishes", Gupta, founder of CanSupport, said.

In its decision on Friday, the country's highest court permitted its citizens to draft a "living will" that specifies that life support not be given in the case of coma.

"It is an extraordinary ruling by the apex court". Second is the Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care (DPAHC) or Health Care Proxy and third is the Living Will (LW). Such a directive has to be signed by two witnesses and counter-signed by a judicial officer.

If there are more than one such directives, the last one will be given effect to.

A typical LW takes effect when the person is terminally ill without chance of recovery and outlines the desire to withhold heroic measures.

This would consist of the head of the treating department and at least three experts from the fields of general medicine, cardiology, neurology, nephrology, psychiatry or oncology with at least twenty years of experience in the medical profession. Twitter reacted immediately to the decision, with most of the Twitterati coming out in support of the decision. The term, "medical treatment", here refers to artificial life support system that can delay death.

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The fundamental right to a "meaningful existence" includes a person's choice to die without suffering, it held.

After Supreme Court passed passive euthanasia judgment in the country, the seekers have mixed reaction on it.

In a judgment delivered on March 09, the court said patients have the right to refuse life-support instead of prolonging their pain, and that a "living will", in which they can authorise family members in advance to let them die, should be recognised.

April 28: Law Commission suggests a draft bill on passive euthanasia and says such pleas be made to HCs which should decide after taking experts' views.

In passive euthanasia medical treatment is withdrawn to hasten the death of a terminally-ill patient.

Article 21 says that "no person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law". His life should not be prolonged, Bhushan added. The court has suggested several conditions, including a District Magistrate-appointed medical board to vet the decision of the hospital medical board that life support systems merely prolong a vegetative or painful existence without any hope of redemption.

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