NEW DELHI: The Centre on Tuesday opposed before the Supreme Court that the plea for legalising passive euthanasia, by allowing a person in vegetative condition to die by withdrawing the life support systems, adding it should be debated and decided by the Parliament, and not by court.
Appearing before a five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice R M Lodha, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi opposed the petition and said that the issue should be left for the legislative body to decide.
The Centre also submitted that the Law Commission, in its report, had opposed the idea of legalising euthanasia. The Bench, also comprising justices J S Khehar, J Chelameswar, A K Sikri, and R F Nariman, after a brief hearing, asked the government to place the Law Commision reports before it, and posted the case for hearing on Wednesday, when it will decide how to proceed with the case.
Bhushan appearing for NGO, Common Cause urged the court to put in place a procedure, under which a terminally ill person or whose health has deteriorated, should be able to execute his or her will and ‘attorney authorisation’ for passive euthanasia, as and when the situation arrives.
On this, the Bench said, “A will can’t be executed when one is living, be it in a vegetative condition.”
Rohatgi told the court that the plea for voluntary passive euthanasia was against public policy, as it would be on the lines of abetting suicide, and attempt to commit suicide. The Bench was constituted to decide the contentious issue, after a three-judge Bench had, on February 25, referred the case to a larger Bench to decide the issue, saying it was extremely important to have a clear enunciation of the law, in view of inconsistent opinion in its previous judgement.
“In view of the inconsistent opinions rendered in Aruna Shanbaug case and also considering the important questions of law involved, which needs to be reflected in the light of social, legal, medical, and Constitutional perspective, it becomes extremely important to have a clear enunciation of law. Thus the question of law involved requires careful consideration by a Constitution Bench of this Court,” the court had said. The court had said that its earlier Constitution Bench verdict, which was wrongly relied in Shanbaug case, had held that the right to live with dignity will be inclusive of right to die with dignity, but the judgement did not arrive at a conclusion for the validity of euthanasia. The direction had come on a PIL filed by Common Cause, which said when a medical expert opines that the person afflicted with terminal disease had reached a point of no return, then he should be given the right to refuse being put on life support system.