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India SC allows living will for passive euthanasia, recognises right to die with dignity

10:16  09 march  2018
10:16  09 march  2018 Source:   hindustantimes.com

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  SC allows living will for passive euthanasia, recognises right to die with dignity © Tsering Topgyal/AP Images

The Supreme Court on Friday allowed a living will, or ‘advance directive’, made by terminally-ill patients for passive euthanasia, prescribing guidelines on who can do that when and how.

The court, which also said passive euthanasia is legal, recognised in its judgment the right to die with dignity.

Living will is a written document that allows a patient to give explicit instructions in advance about the medical treatment to be administered when he or she is terminally ill or no longer able to express informed consent.

Passive euthanasia is a condition where there is withdrawal of medical treatment with the deliberate intention to hasten the death of a terminally-ill patient.

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TheTribune: NEW DELHI: In a landmark verdict, the Supreme Court on Friday recognised right to die with dignity and allowed an individual to issue an advance The concept of living will was prone to misuse, it had contended. The Centre had said it was vetting a draft law allowing passive euthanasia .

The apex court held that the right to life and liberty, enshrined under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, also includes the right to die peacefully and with dignity . Explained | Supreme Court’s landmark judgment on passive euthanasia , living will .

A medical board will be set up to determine and carry out any ‘advance directive’, the court said.

In cases where there is no ‘advance directive’, the patient’s family member or next of friend can approach a high court to seek passive euthanasia.

Four judges of a Constitution bench penned their own judgments on passive euthanasia but gave a unanimous view to allow it and ‘advance directive’.

The constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra on October 11 last year reserved its verdict on the plea.

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The bench had 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.

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In a historic decision, the Supreme Court on Friday allowed passive euthanasia with certain guidelines saying a person has the " right to die with dignity " and can make an advance " living will " authorising the withdrawal of life support system if in medical view he or she has reached an irreversible stage of

A " living will " or a person's right to choose death over life support in case of an incurable disease was recognised today by the Supreme Court in a

Article 21 provides that “no person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law”.

The bench was hearing the PIL filed in 2005 by NGO Common Cause, 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.

The top court had in 2011 recognised passive euthanasia in Aruna Shanbaug’s case by which it had permitted withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment from patients not in a position to make an informed decision.

On January, 15, 2016, the Centre had said the 241st report of the Law Commission stated that passive euthanasia should be allowed with certain safeguards and there was also a proposed law -- Medical Treatment of Terminally Ill Patient (Protection of Patients and Medical Practitioners) Bill, 2006.

It had said that on specific occasions, the question of withdrawing supporting devices to sustain cardio-pulmonary function even after brain death, shall be decided only by a doctors’ team and not by the treating physician alone.

The Centre had opposed recognition of living will and said the consent for removal of artificial support system given by a patient may not be an informed one and without being aware of medical advancements.

It had cited examples of various countries in disallowing creation of living will by patients.

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