SC allows Passive Euthanasia with guidelines

Active euthanasia vs passive euthanasia What's the difference and which country allows what

The Narendra Modi government said before the court that it has already mooted a bill governing passive euthanasia and "living power of attorney". But inMay 11, 2005, Supreme Court took note on a PIL initiated bya NGOto legalize the execution of a living will to the terminally ill persons and make the provisions of Art 21 of the Constitution a bit flexible to include the right to die with dignity under "right to life".

Passive euthanasia is when death is brought about by an omission, broadly by withdrawing of medical treatment and life support systems in terminally ill patients who can't express their consent.

The order to allow the passive Euthanasia was passed by a five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra.

A living will is a written document by way of which a patient can give instructions that his or her life should not be prolonged with an artificial support system when he or she has reached an irreversible stage of terminal illness. This led journalist-activist Pinky Virani, who published a book regarding her case, titled Aruna's Story, to file a writ petition with the Supreme Court asking for the legalization of euthanasia so that Aruna's suffering could be terminated by withdrawing medical support.

In the absence of a living will, decisions about medical care become the responsibility of the spouse, family members or other third parties.

Meanwhile, the government had said a year ago that it had prepared a draft bill to allow passive euthanasia.

Earlier in January 2018, the Lavate couple wrote to President Ram Nath Kovind, requesting to approve their plea for active euthanasia.

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The apex court also laid down guidelines as to who could execute the advance directive and how, what should it contain, how should it be recorded and preserved, when and by whom can it be given effect to, what if permission is refused by the medical board and also in the event of revocation or inapplicability of advance directive.

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

File: India's Supreme Court is pictured through a gate in New Delhi, India May 26, 2016. It has also given sanction to 'Passive Euthanasia' and 'Living Will' and thereby issued guidelines in this regard. The Judges on the bench were nearly unanimous and in sync with the milestone verdict they passed and provided vocal support to the cause of the terminally ill people who they believe complete a glorious life only if they meet a non-volatile end.

The court had in last October taken up the plea, but then chosen to reserve its order.

"It has been highlighted that determination of the seemly criteria will keep the element of misuse by the family members or the treating physician or, for that matter, any interested person at bay and also remove the confusion", the panel notes.

While euthanasia is still illegal in most parts of the United States, the doctors are allowed to prescribe lethal doses of medicine to terminally ill patients in five state - Washington DC, California, Colorado, Oregon and Vermont.

"It is a landmark decision in a resource-constraint country and would save a lot of salvageable patients by giving them opportunity to avail ventilator support", Dr Chatterjee, who is also joint editor of Indian Academy Geriatrics, said.

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