In a landmark judgement, SC recognizes ‘living will’ of terminally ill, allows passive euthanasia

New Delhi: The Supreme Court of India while recognizing the ‘living will’ of terminally ill patients, has allowed passive euthanasia, reported the Indian Express.

A five-judge Constitution bench, headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, said that the guidelines will be in force till legislation is passed by Parliament to deal with the issue.

The five judges had written four separate judgments expressing their views, but concurred on allowing passive euthanasia and advance directive. The bench also comprised justices A K Sikri, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan. The CJI’s judgment said the heart of the matter is whether law permits the acceleration of death without suffering.

“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,” stated Justice Chandrachud.

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, reported the Press Trust of India.

The Apex Court defined passive euthanasia in the 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.”

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