NEW DELHI: In a historic judgment, the Supreme Court on Friday allowed passive euthanasia, saying that human beings have the right to die with dignity. Permitting passive euthanasia, the apex court said that it will be permissible with guidelines.
The SC said that a person can decide when to give up the life support system and added that it has laid down guidelines on who would execute the will and how a nod for passive euthanasia would be granted by the medical board. It said that its guidelines and directives shall remain in force till a legislation is brought to deal with the issue.
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The order was passed by a five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra. The CJI said that other members of the five-judge Constitution bench have concurred on the guidelines and directives passed by it.
It was observed in court that when a medical expert suggests that a person afflicted with a terminal disease has no hope for recovery, he should be given the right to refuse being put on life support system to not prolong the agony of the patient.
The SC had in 2017 said that the right to die in peace could not be separated from Right to Life under Article 21 of the Constitution. An NGO Common Cause had moved the top court way back in 2005 seeking right to make a living will, authorising the withdrawal of life support system in the event of will makers reaching irreversible vegetative state.
The central government had in the course of hearing of the matter by a five-judge Constitution Bench told the top court that passive euthanasia was the law of the land with safeguards by virtue of an earlier 2014 judgement of the top court in Aruna Shanbaug case.
The top court by its order on March 7, 2014, in Aruna Shanbaug case had permitted passive euthanasia under certain circumstances, provided it was backed by the permission of the high court.
The Centre had also told the Constitution Bench that a draft bill permitting passive euthanasia with necessary safeguards was already before it for consideration. However, the Centre had opposed permitting a living will both on the grounds of "principle and practicality" as it expressed apprehension of its possible misuse.
A living will is made by a person in his normal state of mind that is to be executed in the event of a terminal illness if he reaches an irreversible vegetative state.