Landmark ruling: Supreme Court says passive euthanasia is permissible

Health experts welcomed the decision of the SC but said strict regulations must be put in to prevent abuse of the living will. representative image

"The question that arises is should he not be allowed to cross the doors of life and enter painlessly and with dignity, into the dark tunnel of death whereafter it is said that there is resplendence". The guidelines say the "living will" document much clearly indicate the circumstances in which withholding or withdrawing medical treatment can be resorted to, mentioning that the executor may revoke the instructions at any time.

Talking to The Asian Age, Ms Lavate, who is a retired school principal said, "We wrote a letter to the President's office, so we are excepting a decision from that side and not the Supreme Court judgement".

The Friday judgment of the five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court will be in operation till Parliament enacts a suitable law. "For some, even their death could be a moment of celebration".

"The right to a dignified existence, the liberty to make decisions and choices and the autonomy of the individual are central to the quest to live a meaningful life".

"To decrease the misuse the court has said that making of living will be allowed only after getting certification from a medical authority that the patient's comatose state is irreversible", Rohan added.

Finally the Supreme Court took the initiative of hearing the matter on January 23rd 2014 by a three-judge bench led by then CJI P Sathasivam and the Delhi Medical Council supporting the task it was assigned tofileda copy of the proceedings of International Workshop for Policy Statement on Euthanasia in India, to which the Court reversed its previous verdict. The living will is defined as the person's right to issue a pre directive where in which he or she allows the withdrawal of life support or discontinuation of medicine if a situation arises in future of person being in a terminally ill state.

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This last wish can be executed only by an adult in sound state of mind and who is in a position to communicate and comprehend the consequences of executing such a direction.

The court said that in cases where there was no advance directive about terminally ill patients, the doctor treating the doctors treating the patient may inform the hospital which, in turn, shall constitute a medical board. He was seen on the TV lauding the verdict as a "historical ruling" and said, "The whole world takes birth crying, but Mahavira taught us to die laughing".

Aruna Shanbaug, 25, was a nurse in the King Edward Memorial Hospital in Mumbai when she was assaulted on November 27, 1973 by a sweeper. The debate around the need change euthanasia laws in India was triggered by the Aruna Shanbaug case. Meantime, a non-government organisation approached the top court with a plea to also legalise the right to a living will.

India's chief justice Dipak Misra said that the guidelines set out by the court "will prevail until the government comes out with legislation".

"Dying is a part of the living process and hence a part of Article 21".

"It is a huge relief to see the Supreme Court judgment that makes an advanced medical directive legally binding on the medical profession", he told The Indian Express. "Everyone deserves to die peacefully", Anumeha said.

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