Landmark judgement: Supreme Court says passive euthanasia is permissible

SC allows passive euthanasia, upholds 'right to die with dignity'

Hence, the court, Justice Sikri said, is rightly in favour of the right to die with dignity.

People on social media have come in huge support of the decision, stating that its encouraging for people who have to suffer pain, and don't want to live any longer because prolonged illness that incurable or if they're in an irreversible coma or vegetative state. While passive euthanasia, described by the Supreme Court as "withdrawing medical treatment with a deliberate intention of causing the patient's death" is permitted, provided guidelines and conditions are followed, active euthanasia, "ending life through use of lethal substance" is not permitted in any circumstance.

The five-judge Constitution bench headed by the Chief Justice of India said, "human beings have a right to die with dignity".

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

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Common Cause representatives are learnt to be in touch with the Indian Council for Medical Research on defining terms such as end of life care, no not resuscitate, advance will directive etc for the dying to express their right will to die refusing prolonged ICU and other advanced medical care.

If the hospital medical board opines on executing the advance directive, another medical board will be set up, which may endorse the its execution if it concurs with the initial decision of the medical board of the hospital.

While the Centre was in agreement on the question of allowing passive euthanasia, it opposed the concept of living will.

"Life and death are inseparable". While the bench stated that "living will" and "passive euthanasia" were permissible in the country, it also asserted that guidelines would govern who would execute the will and how a green signal for passive euthanasia would be granted.

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Various medical and legal dictionaries say passive euthanasia is the act of hastening the death of a terminally-ill patient by altering some form of support and letting nature take its course.

The NGO had approached the Court seeking a direction for the recognition of a "living will" and contended that when a medical expert said that a person afflicted with terminal disease had reached a point of no return, then they should be given the right to refuse being put on life support.

The debate on euthanasia in India was triggered after the case of Aruna Shanbaug, a Mumbai nurse, who remained in a persistent vegetative state for almost 42 years following a sexual assault.

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