In a major breakthrough,Supreme Court made passive euthanasia legal.The judgement was delivered by 5 judge constitution bench which included CJI Deepak Mishra,and Justices A K Sikri,A M Khanwilkar,D Y Chandrachud,and Ashok Bhushan.
WHAT IS PASSIVE EUTHANASIA?
Passive euthanasia is referred to a state when a patient dies because the doctors can not do anything to keep the patient alive or when the doctors stop doing something needed to keep the patient alive.
DETAILS OF THE LANDMARK DECISION
The Supreme Court’s ruling came on a plea by the NGO ‘Common Cause’.The NGO had approached the court seeking the recognition of ‘living will’ and their prime contention was that once a terminally ill patient reaches a point of no return,then he should be given the right to refuse the life support.The petition claimed that the right to life as enshrined in Article 21 of the Constitution also includes the right to die with dignity.
“A person cannot be forced to live on support of ventilator. Keeping a patient alive by artificial means against his/her wishes is an assault on his/her body” the petition read.
The judgement introduced the concept of ‘living will’.By this ‘living will’ an individual will be able to specify that they not be put on life support if they slip into an incurable coma in the future.
Though the judges gave four different decisions but they unanimously agreed on the concept of living will.The Supreme Court said that it was aware of the risks that the judgement can lead to considering the property issues that the relatives of the person who is being administered passive euthanasia may have and hence the court has issued certain safeguards and guidelines considering the inherent dangers of such a mandate.
The judgement specified the authority who will be able to give effect to a living will.The court also talked about including a medical board to ascertain whether a patient in vegetative state could be revived or not.The judges made it clear that in cases where the patient hadn’t been able to make a living will,his relatives could approach the respective high courts seeking passive euthanasia.
The top court’s ruling is certain to create ripples across the country.This judgment is a far cry from Aruna Shanbaug judgement.Not only does it recognize the right to die but it also allows passive euthanasia for patients who are forced to live a life on ventilator against their wishes.