Passive euthenasia is the law of the land, Centre tells SC


The government told the constitution bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.K.Sikri, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice Ashok Bhushan that a draft bill permitting passive euthanasia with necessary safeguards was already before it for consideration. The decision to end a life will have to be approved by a medical board.

On a PIL filed by NGO Common Cause, the bench is also looking into if a direction can be given to the government to adopt suitable procedures to ensure that those with deteriorating health or the terminally ill should be able to execute a living will and attorney authorisation for termination of life (living will).

The centre is ready with a draft bill that permits passive euthanasia, or doctors to withdraw treatment to a terminally-ill patient but underlined this call should be taken by a medical board.

The court is now considering the plea of an NGO, Common Cause, to declare "right to die with dignity" as a fundamental right within the fold of Right to Live with Dignity guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.

Earlier, Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the petitioner, said that when a medical expert opined that the person afflicted with the terminal disease had reached a point of no return, then he/she should be given the right to refuse being put on a life-support to prolong his/her agonies.

Constitutional bench of SC is hearing the case of passive Euthanasia.

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Bhushan said that forcing prolonged medical treatment on someone who does not want it, amounts to assault and added that passive euthanasia in the Aruna Shanbaug's case was distinct from living wills.

The "Management of Patients With Terminal Illness - Withdrawal of Medical Life Support Bill" has been drawn up in keeping with the recommendations of the Law Commission, Additional Solicitor General P S Narsimha told a five-judge Constitution Bench. The ASG said the Bill would have safeguards to prevent its misuse. He said the government was willing only to go to the extent of giving passive euthanasia legal recognition.

Supreme Court will continue hearing the arguments in the case tomorrow.

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 merely by the treating physician alone.

This is unedited, unformatted feed from the Press Trust of India wire.