As what can be seen as the landmark justice, the Supreme Court on Friday passed an order allowing passive euthanasia in the country. Passing the order, and recognising “living will” made by terminally–ill patients who are likely to slip into a permanent vegetative state, the Supreme Court laid down guidelines for the same, including who would execute the will and how nod for passive euthanasia can be granted by the medical board. The five-judge constitution bench, headed by the Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, said that the guidelines will be in force till legislation on the same is passed by Parliament.
The CJI’s judgment said the heart of the matter is whether the law permits the acceleration of death without suffering.
Passive euthanasia, defined by the SC in Aruna Ramchandra Shanbaug vs Union Of India & Ors (March 7, 2011), entails withholding of medical treatment for continuance of life, e.g. withholding of antibiotics where without giving it a patient is likely to die.”
Justice Chandrachud today said, “Life and death are inseparable. Every moment our bodies undergo change… life is not disconnected from death. Dying is a part of the process of living.”
The court, hearing a petition filed by NGO Common Cause, said advance directives for terminally-ill patients could be issued and executed by the next friend or relatives of the person after which a medical board would consider it.