The bench said its guidelines and directives should remain in force until Parliament makes legislation on this issue.
After nearly two years of that, on February 15th, 2016 thecentreopined that it is a deliberate issue and the five judges bench led by the Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra heard the argument and reversed the previous verdict. The Indian Supreme Court has ruled that terminally ill patients have the right to refuse care to hasten their death.
With the advancement in medical technology and the fact that medical directive achieved lawful recognition in the US, Australia, Canada and other jurisdictions, the Bench felt that it was time for India to recognise this right as part of a citizen's right of self-determination, dignity, autonomy and privacy as well by choosing not to suffer a painful death. Govt should come up with a policy: "Mr & Mrs Lavate, who had asked for euthanasia".
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"In the event the executor is incapable of taking a decision or develops impaired decision-making capacity, the consent of the guardian nominated by the executor in the advance directive should be obtained regarding refusal or withdrawal of medical treatment to the executor to the extent of and consistent with the clear instructions given in the advance directive", it said.
He said, "Till now advanced medical directives did not have legal validity in our country".
A competent committee would comprise doctors, lawyers, social activists and the local administration of the hospital, Trehan said. The apex court ruled on a plea filed by the Delhi-based Common Cause India which had, in 2005, brought up the matter of a person's right to die with dignity by creating a living will. "However, it should be given effect to only after being fully satisfied that the executor is terminally ill and is undergoing prolonged treatment or is surviving on life support and that the illness of the executor is incurable or there is no hope of him/her being cured", the court said.
Indian courts have rejected appeals to allow active euthanasia, or acts that aid in a person killing him or herself.
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The Lavates said the Supreme Court's judgment was irrelevant to them. The debate around the need change euthanasia laws in India was triggered by the Aruna Shanbaug case.
Dr K K Aggarwal, vice -pesident of Confederation of Medical Associations in Asia and Oceania, and former IMA president, however, said strict guidelines should be put in place to ensure that there is no abuse of the "living will" by relatives of the terminally ill patient. He further clarified that while active euthanasia is a crime, same is not the case with passive euthanasia as the element of good faith and objective assessment of the caregiver of the patient will protect doctors performing this task.
Nidhi Mishra, founder of Senior Express, an initiative to promote active and productive ageing, said that while there was a right to live and die with dignity, it was important to ensure that the SC ruling does not get misused.
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