The Supreme Court in far reaching verdict has allowed a living will, or ‘advance directive’, made by terminally-ill patients for passive euthanasia, prescribing guidelines on who can do that when and how.
The Supreme Court pronounced the verdict on a plea seeking legal sanction for passive euthanasia under which a person suffering from a terminal disease and in his/her last stage of life with no chance of recovery is allowed not to sustain life through artificial support system.
Living will is a written document that allows a patient to give explicit instructions in advance about the medical treatment to be administered when he or she is terminally ill or no longer able to express informed consent. Further, A living will, is an advance written directive to physicians for end-of-life medical care. It pointed out that this may lead to the abuse and neglect of the elderly, especially if they were financially well-off.
According to various media reports, the court also said that passive euthanasia is legal, recognised in its judgment the right to die with dignity.
Passive euthanasia is a condition where there is withdrawal of medical treatment with the deliberate intention to hasten the death of a terminally-ill patient. A medical board will be set up to determine and carry out any ‘advance directive’, the court said.
The SC said it has laid down guidelines on who would execute the will and how the nod for passive euthanasia would be granted by the medical board. The court says its guidelines and directives will remain in force till a legislation is brought to deal with the issue.
Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra says other members of the five-judge Constitution bench have concurred on the guidelines and directives passed by it.