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SC allows passive euthanasia, recognises ‘living will’ of terminally ill patients

SC allows passive euthanasia: A five-judge bench laid down guidelines which will be in force till legislation on the same is passed by Parliament. This includes who would execute the will and how nod for passive euthanasia would be granted by the medical board

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: March 9, 2018 4:33:56 pm
SC allows passive euthanasia SC allows passive euthanasia: In a landmark judgment, a five-judge bench recognised the “living will” made by terminally-ill patients (Express File Photo)

In a landmark judgment, the Supreme Court Friday passed an order allowing passive euthanasia in the country. The apex court, recognising “living will” made by terminally-ill patients who are likely to go into a permanent vegetative state, laid down guidelines for the same, including who would execute the will and how nod for passive euthanasia would be granted by the medical board. A five-judge Constitution bench, headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, said that the guidelines will be in force till legislation on the same is passed by Parliament.

The five judges had written four separate judgments expressing their views, but concurred on allowing passive euthanasia and advance directives. The bench also comprised justices A K Sikri, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan. The CJI’s judgment said the heart of the matter is whether law permits the acceleration of death without suffering.

Passive euthanasia, defined by the SC in Aruna Ramchandra Shanbaug vs Union Of India & Ors (March 7, 2011), entails withholding of medical treatment for continuance of life, e.g. withholding of antibiotics where without giving it a patient is likely to die.”

Express Explained | What is passive euthanasia, and how does a Living Will differ from it? 

Justice Chandrachud today said, “Life and death are inseparable. Every moment our bodies undergo change… life is not disconnected from death. Dying is a part of the process of living.”

Also read | Debate around the ‘living will’ and why, in an ideal world, it would be irrelevant

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The court, hearing a petition filed by NGO Common Cause, said advance directives for terminally-ill patients could be issued and executed by the next friend or relatives of the person after which a medical board would consider it, reported news agency PTI.

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