The Supreme Court referred the petition seeking legalization of euthanasia to a five-judge Constitution Bench on 25 February 2014. The Public Interest Litigation filed by NGO Common Cause sought to declare dying with dignity a fundamental right for terminally ill patients.
A 3-Judge Bench of Chief Justice P Sathasivam, Justices Ranjan Gogoi and Shiva Kirti Singh while referring the issue to the Constitution Bench relied on two earlier cases.
In 1996 Gian Kaur Case the Constitution Bench upheld that the right to live with dignity under Article 21 of the Constitution will be inclusive of right to die with dignity. However, the decision did not arrive at a conclusion for validity of euthanasia be it active or passive.
In 2011 the Supreme Court rejected the plea for mercy killing of Aruna Shanbaug who has been in a persistent vegetative state for the past 37 years and had laid down elaborate guideline for carrying out passive euthanasia.
In view of the inconsistent opinions rendered in the two cases and also considering the important question of law involved which needs to be reflected in the light of social, legal, medical and constitutional perspective, the 3-Judge Bench referred it to the issue to the 5-judge Bench.
Who: Supreme Court
When: 25 February 2014