On Friday, the Supreme Court of India passed a landmark ruling legalising passive euthanasia by recognising the right to a dignified death.
A Constitution bench comprising Chief Justice of India Dipak Kumar Misra, Justice AK Sikri, Justice AM Khanwilkar, Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Ashok Bhushan, passed the verdict on the plea to allow "living will" that will authorise the withdrawal of all life support systems if, in the opinion of the doctors, a patient has reached an irreversible stage of terminal illness.
The Supreme Court also laid down guidelines on who would execute the will and how nod for passive euthanasia would be granted by the medical board. The top court further added that its guidelines and directives shall remain in force till a legislation is brought to deal with the issue. CJI Misra said that other members of the five-judge Constitution bench have concurred on the guidelines and directives passed by it.
Justice AK Sikri said that even though religion, law, philosophy, morality, and society share conflicting opinions on the Fundamental Right to Life and if it includes the right to die as well, they all concur that a person should be able to die with dignity, reported The Hindu.
He also said that a having a "living will" from the patient to stop medical treatment at a certain stage — such as when he/she is brain dead or clinically dead — helps remove regret or guilt for relatives and "criminal action against doctors".
In the judgment, the five judges quoted literary greats such as Swami Vivekananda, poets Lord Alfred Tennyson, John Dryden, and John Donne among a few, introduced the subject and looked at how life and death have been perceived across time.
Here is the full text of the Supreme Court judgment allowing passive euthanasia. The judgment has been broken into two parts for convenience:
Published Date: Mar 09, 2018 16:08 PM | Updated Date: Mar 09, 2018 16:08 PM