Why in News?
- The Supreme Court in India has recently made changes to the rules for passive euthanasia with the primary objective to make the process less difficult and less time-consuming
- The Supreme Court tweaked the previous judgement to do away with the necessity of a judicial magistrate to attest or countersign a living will.
- SC held that an attestation by a notary or a gazetted officer would be sufficient for a person to make a valid living will.
- Instead of the living being in the custody of the district court concerned, SC said that the document will be a part of the National Health Digital Record which can be accessed by hospitals and doctors from any part of the country.
- If the hospital’s medical board denies permission to withdraw medical treatment, the family members of the patient can approach the relevant high court, which forms a fresh board of medical experts to enable the court to take a final call.
- Passive euthanasia is the act of withholding or withdrawing medical treatment, such as withholding or withdrawing life support, with the intention of allowing a person to die.
- This is in contrast to active euthanasia, which involves an active intervention to end a person’s life with substances or external force, such as administering a lethal injection.
- In a landmark judgement, the Supreme Court of India legalised passive euthanasia in 2018, stating that it was a matter of ‘living will’.
- According to the judgement, an adult in his conscious mind is permitted to refuse medical treatment or voluntarily decide not to take medical treatment to embrace death in a natural way, under certain conditions.
- It also laid down guidelines for ‘living will’ made by terminally ill patients who beforehand know about their chances of slipping into a permanent vegetative state.
- The court specifically stated that “Dignity in the process of dying is as much a part of the right to life under Article 21. To deprive an individual of dignity towards the end of life is to deprive the individual of a meaningful existence.”