New Delhi, Mar 9: The Supreme Court is likely to pronounce its verdict on a petition seeking recognition of ‘living will’ today. The Living will is a written document made by terminally-ill patients for passive euthanasia under which a person suffering from a terminally ill disease and has no chance of recovery is allowed not to sustain life through the artificial support system.
Passive euthanasia is a condition where there is a withdrawal of medical treatment with an intention to hasten the death of a terminally-ill patient. A five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra had on October 11 last year reserved its verdict on the plea.
The bench had then indicated that it might recognise the execution of ‘living will’ in cases of passive euthanasia under Article 21 of the Constitution. Article 21 states that “no person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.” The court, however, directed that there should be adequate safeguards and implementation of the living will.
Appearing for petitioner NGO Common Cause, Advocate Prashant Bhushan, had argued that safeguards are needed if the medical boards decide to withdraw life support of a patient.
“How can a person be told that he/she does not have right to prevent torture on his body? Right to life includes right to die with dignity. A person cannot be forced to live on support of ventilator. Keeping a patient alive by artificial means against his/her wishes is an assault on his/her body,” the petitioner said.
The petitioner, NGO ‘Common Cause’, had earlier approached the court seeking a recognition of ‘living will’ and when a medical expert says that the patient with a terminal ill disease can no longer carry on the artificial life support, s/he has the right to refuse being put on a life support system.
With agency inputs.