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SC’s Historic Judgment On “Passive Euthanasia” Puts Awesome Responsibility On Doctors

Supreme Court of India has passed a landmark judgment legalizing “passive euthanasia” or “living will” so that life-support may be removed from permanently unconscious or terminally ill patients who are suffering from painful incurable diseases like end stage cancer or AIDS to let me die in a quick and dignified way. The concept of “living will” to allow a more dignified death is not new in most Western countries. Indian Apex Court has now agreed that “right to life” which is guaranteed under Article 21 of Indian Constitution should also include the right to have a rapid, painless and dignified death. The Apex Court has said that in order to enhance death by withdrawal of life-support from an unconscious patient suffering from an irreversible medical condition, treating physician and doctors of a “medical board”, in consultation with patient’s family, must first agree that the patient is afflicted with a truly “irreversible” disease and recommend “passive euthanasia”. A judge then evaluate the case and must approve before the life-support can be removed to induce a rapid and dignified death. While we should welcome this historic judgment by the Supreme Court paving the way for a more quick and painless death because nobody deserves to suffer a slow and agonizing death, PBT has raised the concern about the possibility of grave abuse of this process by unscrupulous doctors and patient’s family leading to the induction of a wrongful and premature death of an unconscious patient (read PBT president Dr. Kunal Saha’s article on this published in Hindu Business Online at the link https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/specials/pulse/sc-judgement-on-living-will-places-an-enormous-responsibility-in-doctors-hands/article23274337.ece; also attached below).

Hindu (Living Will) March 17, 2018

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  • Saileswar Chakrabarti March 17, 2018, 12:03 pm

    This article is a correct assessment in view of present degradation of moral values, loss of integrity and credibility of some doctors, nurses and other persons involved. However, great care should be taken to this effect keeping in mind the salient precautionary issues directed by Supreme Court and highlighted in this article.

  • Dr. S. K. Thakur March 19, 2018, 11:06 am

    Dr. Saha,
    Plz go through the observation of Calcutta High Court in my criminal case. I filed a SLP against the order of the Calcutta High Court in the Supreme Court of India. The notice has already been served to OPs and very soon I may get some decision. The complete judgment was reported by the medical dialogue team without my knowledge.
    “He has also cited another
    unreported decision in connection with Aruna Ramchandra
    Shanbaug –Vs.- Union of India & Ors., which was in connection
    with ‘euthanasia’. In that judgment Hon’ble Apex Court held that
    a decision has to be taken to discontinue life support either by
    the parents or the spouse or other close relatives, or in the
    absence of any of them, such a decision can be taken even by a
    person or a body of persons acting as a next friend. It can also be
    taken by the doctors attending the patient. However, the decision
    should be taken bona fide in the best interest of the patient. That
    judgment is squarely applicable in this case because the patient came with a serious condition and clinical tests were not done
    within the shortest possible time and when he was having ‘brain
    dead’, there was no option left with by the doctor concerned to
    withdraw the life support. So it cannot be said that the act of the
    doctors were not bona fide.”

  • Dr. S. K. Thakur March 19, 2018, 11:10 am

    Sorry forgot to attach the link.
    http://judis.nic.in/Judis_Kolkata/All/content.asp

  • PBT March 20, 2018, 7:56 am

    Dr. Thakur: Your link takes one merely to the Calcutta High Court website. What is the cause title or case no. of the pertinent case without which nobody can access the said judgment.

  • Dr. S. K. Thakur March 20, 2018, 10:05 am

    Sorry for the inconvenience.
    The case no is CRR 1027 of 2013 (Appellate Side). The opinion expressed by the Hon’ble judge regarding Euthanasia in the final order is worth going through. Mr. Tapas had put forward all the guidelines fixed by the Supreme Court in Aruna Shanbag case for stopping the life support !

  • Parag March 24, 2018, 1:09 am

    Good step to help terminally ill patients, however great possibility of it being misused by corrupt Doctor’s.

    My family is also a victim of medical negligence. I’ve started the petition “Medical Council of India, Lilavati Hospital: Cancel License, expel Corrupt Nephrologist Hemant Mehta, Prashant Rajput who killed my Mom” and need your help to get it off the ground.

    Will you take 30 seconds to sign it right now. Here’s the link:

    http://www.change.org/p/medical-council-of-india-lilavati-hospital-cancel-license-expel-corrupt-nephrologist-hemant-mehta-prashant-rajput-who-killed-my-mom

    Thanks!
    Parag