Wednesday, 19 December, 2018

Supreme Court allows passive euthanasia in its landmark decision

Supreme Court allows passive euthanasia in its landmark decision Supreme Court allows passive euthanasia in its landmark decision
Anna Jefferson | 09 March, 2018, 17:40

The top court said that directions and guidelines laid down by it and its directive shall remain in force till a legislation is brought on the issue, PTI reported.

The five judges had written four separate judgments expressing their views, but concurred on allowing passive euthanasia and advance directives.

The five-member constitution bench, which had on October 11 a year ago reserved its verdict on the plea, had earlier indicated during the hearing that it might recognise the execution of "living will" in cases of passive euthanasia, as right to die peacefully is part of fundamental right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution. With the new order in place, now, a person under medical treatment can decide when to give-up life support. With the latest decision, the SC approved living will for terminally ill patients. Life is not disconnected from death.

The court said the life support can be removed only after the statutory medical board declares patient to be incurable. The Court also talked of involving a Medical Board to determine whether the patient in a vegetative state could be revived or not.

The Supreme court, in what is a being considered a landmark decision, passed a judgement that would make it possible for people to opt for Passive Euthanasia, but with some guidelines that would have to be followed to achieve it. "However, the court had held a few conditions".

The court said it was time to dispense with such shared suffering and sense of guilt and face reality.

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The top court said the right to refuse medical treatment "stands on a different pedestal as compared to suicide, physician assisted suicide or even euthanasia".

The bench was hearing the PIL filed in 2005 by the NGO which said when a medical expert is of the opinion that a person afflicted with a terminal disease has reached a point of no return, he should be given the right to refuse life support.

In its judgment on "living will" authorising passive euthanasia, the apex court detailed that the fundamental right to a meaningful existence included a person's choice to die without suffering.

Private hospitals that are increasingly at the receiving end of allegations of inflated medical bills through extended ICU admissions of terminally ill and clinically dead patients will now get a reprieve if the person has signed such a "living will". One is meaningless without the other, Justice Chandrachud observed.

However, both suicide and refusal to take treatment in case of terminal ailment shall result in the same consequences, that is death, "yet refusal to take treatment by itself can not amount to suicide", it said. Every moment our bodies undergo change... life is not disconnected from death.

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