By the landmark verdict, The Supreme Court of India has declared “passive euthanasia” legal on March 9th 2018 including the ‘right to die’ under the fundamental right of right to dignity. The Supreme Court with a strict guideline to govern has permitted the passive euthanasia.
It understood the clear difference between the active and passive euthanasia and it has permitted the passive euthanasia, which is a condition where the person is living in a vegetative state and putting off thelife supporting system or any terminally ill person on a living will to let the person die who had no other opportunity to live a healthy and normal life. It defined ‘living will’ as a document in written form by which a patient can express his/her intention regarding the medical treatment to be advanced in case of terminally illness or no longer in a condition to express informed consent.
In Gian Kaur vs State of Punjab Case, the Supreme Court deliberately stated that right to life does not imply a right to death on a person. But in May 11, 2005, Supreme Court took note on a PIL initiated by a NGO to legalize the execution of a living will to the terminally ill persons and make the provisions of Art 21 of the Constitution a bit flexible to include the right to die with dignity under ‘right to life’. Supreme Court on January 16th next year permitted the Delhi Medical Council to intervene and file the report, and to that effect, Law Commission suggested to draft a bill on passive euthanasia on April 28th, 2006 and said such pleas are to be made to High Courts which should decide after taking expert’s views. The next to that year on January 31st, The Supreme Court finally asked the parties to file the documents in support to the matter and after 3 years of that on May 7th 2011, on a separate plea in the matter of Aruna Ramchandra Shanbaug vs. Union of India and Others allowed the process of passive euthanasia, where the passive euthanasia was conducted on a nurse who was in a vegetative state for a long time in KEM Hospital in Mumbai.
Finally the Supreme Court took the initiative of hearing the matter on January 23rd 2014 by a three-judge bench led by then CJI P Sathasivam and the Delhi Medical Council supporting the task it was assigned tofiled a copy of the proceedings of International Workshop for Policy Statement on Euthanasia in India, to which the Court reversed its previous verdict. It cited the inconsistencies in the earlier verdicts given which included certain landmark cases and referred the PIL to a Constitution bench. On July 15th of the same year, a five-judge bench was commenced to hear the plea.
After almost two years of that, on February 15th, 2016 thecentre opined that it is a deliberate issue and the five judges bench led by the Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra heard the argument and reversed the previous verdict.
At the end, on March 9th 2018 Supreme Court legalized that if there is a ‘living’ will made by terminally ill patients for passive euthanasia it can be executed following certain strict guidelines adopted to that effect.
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