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Supreme Court allows 'living will' with strict guidelines

Fri, 09 Mar 2018 14:18 IST

An NGO had moved the top court seeking right to make a living will authorising withdrawal of life support system in the event of will makers reaching irreversible vegetative state.

Supreme Court allows 'living will' with strict guidelines
The top court has said the guidelines will remain effective till a law is in place

In a landmark judgment, the Supreme Court on Friday recognized ‘living will’ which allows a person to opt for passive euthanasia in the event of irreversible serious illness.

Announcing its decision, the Constitution Bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.K. Sikri, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice Ashok Bhushan said that its guidelines and directives will remain in force till a legislation is brought to deal with the issue.

The top court said that 'living will' be permitted but with the permission from family members of the person who sought passive euthanasia and also a team of expert doctors who say that the person's revival is practically impossible.

Earlier, the bench had reserved the order on October 11, 2017.

An NGO Common Cause had moved the top court way back in 2005 seeking right to make a living will authorising withdrawal of life support system in the event of will makers reaching irreversible vegetative state.

The central government had in the course of hearing of the matter by a five-judge Constitution Bench told the top court that passive euthanasia was the law of the land with safeguards by virtue of an earlier 2014 judgement of the top court in Aruna Shanbaug case.

The top court by its order on March 7, 2014, in Aruna Shanbaug case had permitted passive euthanasia under certain circumstances, provided it was backed by the permission of the high court.

The Centre had also told the Constitution Bench that a draft bill permitting passive euthanasia with necessary safeguards was already before it for consideration.

However, the Centre had opposed permitting a living will both on the grounds of "principle and practicality" as it expressed apprehension of its possible misuse.

Besides, NGO Common Cause, the Constitution Bench was addressed by a number of interveners who had supported permitting the living will.

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