Supreme Court recognises 'living will', allows passive euthanasia with strict guidelines

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New Delhi:

In a landmark judgment, the Supreme Court on Friday recognised "living will" made by terminally-ill patients for passive euthanasia upholding the right to die with dignity.

The judgment will now allow a person to make 'living will' in his normal state of mind, seeking voluntary euthanasia in case of incurable illness if he or she reaches a persistent vegetative state.

Pronouncing the paradigm-shifting verdict, the apex court said, “Human beings have the right to die with dignity.”

The Supreme Court has framed strict guidelines and formed a medical panel for passive euthanasia.

The directions and guidelines laid down by it and its directive shall remain in force till a legislation is brought on the issue.

The order to allow the passive Euthanasia was passed by a five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra.

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The debate on euthanasia in India was triggered after the case of Aruna Shanbaug, a Mumbai nurse, who remained in a persistent vegetative state for nearly 42 years following a sexual assault.

The top court had in 2011 recognised passive euthanasia in Aruna's case by which it had permitted withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment from patients not in a position to make an informed decision.

The bench was hearing a PIL filed by NGO Common Cause, saying safeguards were needed while taking a decision by medical boards to withdraw life support of a terminally-ill patient.

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.

(With PTI inputs)

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