Right to die with dignity: SC allows passive euthanasia with guidelines

Right to die with dignity: SC allows passive euthanasia with guidelines

A five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra said passive euthanasia and advance living will are "permissible". The apex court, while stating its order, noted that a person must be given the "right to die with dignity". The apex court also laid down guidelines for "living will" made by terminally-ill patients who beforehand know about their chances of slipping into a permanent vegetative state.

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.

Thus the Constitution Bench held that an adult human being having mental capacity to take an informed decision has right to refuse medical treatment including withdrawal from life saving devices.

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The five-member court, however, said that individuals are only allowed to draft a living will while he or she is in "normal state of health and mind", the Hindustan Times reported.

In the case of an unconscious person who suffers from a terminal illness or a life-threatening injury, doctors and hospitals consult his living will to determine whether or not the patient wants life-sustaining treatment, such as assisted breathing or tube feeding. With all due respect, the Supreme Court can not just make a judgment regarding euthanasia.

"It is due to this difference that most of the countries across the world have legalised passive euthanasia either by legislation or by judicial interpretation with certain conditions and safeguards". "Passive euthanasia entails withholding of medical treatment for continuance of life, e.g. withholding of antibiotics where without giving it a patient is likely to die..."

The couple is dismayed at not being eligible for it as they do not suffer from ant terminal illness.

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But this can be done only after permission from all family members and a medical board created to look into the case is received.

Earlier this year, an elderly couple from Mumbai had written a letter to President Ram Nath Kovind seeking permission for "active euthanasia", involves helping a person die on his or her request "through direct action". "Most patients in public hospitals support the decision not to use life-support systems when we explain the prognosis".

In India, the debate over euthanasia began years ago after the case of Aruna Shanbaug captured national attention.

Passive Euthanasia or mercy killing, living will, as it is called is now a reality in India, thanks to the Supreme Court ruling.

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