• Tuesday, Oct 04, 2022
  • Last Update : 09:54 am

India's top court upholds passive euthanasia in landmark judgment

  • Published at 11:32 am March 9th, 2018
  • Last updated at 03:22 pm March 9th, 2018
India's top court upholds passive euthanasia in landmark judgment
Individuals have a right to die with dignity, India's Supreme Court upheld on Friday in a landmark verdict that permits the removal of life-support systems for the terminally ill or those in incurable comas. Passive euthanasia, as it is called, will apply only to a terminally ill person with no hope of recovery, a panel of five judges said. Active euthanasia, by administering a lethal injection, continues to be illegal in India. In active euthanasia, a specific overt act is performed to end the patient's life whereas in passive euthanasia, something is not done that would be necessary to preserve a patient's life, the panel noted. "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." Even though passive euthanasia has been legal since 2011 in India, the government is yet to pass the law. Meantime, a non-government organisation approached the top court with a plea to also legalise the right to a living will. "At that time the Supreme Court said they will look at this whole passive euthanasia thing again, which they have, and they have upheld their own judgement," said activist and author Pinki Virani. Virani's plea to the top court in 2009 for passive euthanasia of Indian nurse Aruna Shanbaug, who had survived in a coma for more than 40 years after she was sexually assaulted, caught the nation's attention. Two years later, the court passed a law permitting passive euthanasia. The issue is not considered politically contentious in India.

Dignity in death

When the sanctity of life was destroyed, said the panel of five judges headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, "Should we not allow them to cross the door and meet death with dignity? For some, even their death could be a moment of celebration." The court also permitted individuals to decide against artificial life support, should the need arise, by creating a "living will.” The decision makes it legal for the terminally ill to decide against using life support systems to continue living, and frees the doctors and families of those who slip into incurable comas to halt such measures, in the patients' best interest. "This is an important, historic decision, which clears the air," said Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan. "Everybody will breathe a sigh of relief, because people were earlier apprehensive that if they withdrew life support, they could be prosecuted for culpable homicide," he added. Bhushan had filed a petition to the Supreme Court on behalf of a registered society, Common Cause, seeking recognition of the right to establish a living will. "The court has held that an individual has a full right to decide that he should not take any kind of medical treatment or that he should not be kept alive by artificial life support systems," Bhushan added. The 538-page judgment places management of terminally ill patients at the centre stage. "It has been highlighted that determination of the seemly criteria will keep the element of misuse by the family members or the treating physician or, for that matter, any interested person at bay and also remove the confusion," the panel notes. Dr Naresh Trehan, head of Medanta Heart Institute near New Delhi, said the living will "opens itself to abuse. That's where the sanctity of the process will be important." A competent committee would comprise doctors, lawyers, social activists and the local administration of the hospital, Trehan said.
50
Facebook 50
blogger sharing button blogger
buffer sharing button buffer
diaspora sharing button diaspora
digg sharing button digg
douban sharing button douban
email sharing button email
evernote sharing button evernote
flipboard sharing button flipboard
pocket sharing button getpocket
github sharing button github
gmail sharing button gmail
googlebookmarks sharing button googlebookmarks
hackernews sharing button hackernews
instapaper sharing button instapaper
line sharing button line
linkedin sharing button linkedin
livejournal sharing button livejournal
mailru sharing button mailru
medium sharing button medium
meneame sharing button meneame
messenger sharing button messenger
odnoklassniki sharing button odnoklassniki
pinterest sharing button pinterest
print sharing button print
qzone sharing button qzone
reddit sharing button reddit
refind sharing button refind
renren sharing button renren
skype sharing button skype
snapchat sharing button snapchat
surfingbird sharing button surfingbird
telegram sharing button telegram
tumblr sharing button tumblr
twitter sharing button twitter
vk sharing button vk
wechat sharing button wechat
weibo sharing button weibo
whatsapp sharing button whatsapp
wordpress sharing button wordpress
xing sharing button xing
yahoomail sharing button yahoomail