In a historic decision, the Supreme Court of India has made passive euthanasia legal in the country by declaring Right to Die with dignity as a fundamental right.
A five-judge Constitution bench, headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, said the guidelines will be in force till legislation on the same is passed by the Parliament.
Passive euthanasia, as defined by the Supreme Court in Aruna Ramchandra Shanbaug vs Union Of India & Ors (March 7, 2011), entails withholding of medical treatment for the continuance of life, e.g. withholding of antibiotics where without giving it, a patient is likely to die.
The apex court recognised "living will", written by a terminally ill patient seeking passive euthanasia who are likely to go into a permanent vegetative state. The court also laid guidelines on who would execute the will and the medical board will grant nod for passive euthanasia.
As reported by PTI, the court said that advance directives for terminally-ill patients could be issued and executed by the next friend or relatives of the person after which a medical board would consider it.
Justice Chandrachud said:
Life and death are inseparable. Every moment our bodies undergo change, life is not disconnected from death. Dying is a part of the process of living.