NEW DELHI: The Centre on Tuesday told the Supreme Court that it had drafted a ‘Management of Patients with Terminal Illness — Withdrawal of Medical Life Support’ Bill that permits passive euthanasia but made it clear the final call to withdraw treatment to a patient should be taken only by a medical board.
At present, active euthanasia is not allowed in India. Euthanasia and assisted suicide are acceptable in 10 countries, including the US, Canada, Germany, Switzerland and Belgium.
The Centre, represented by Additional Solicitor General PS Narasimha, told the five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra that it was against a ‘living will’ as it could be misused.
A ‘living will’ refers to the patient’s permission given in advance to authorise doctors to stop life-support treatment to hasten a terminally ill patient’s death.
“If a person is not of sound mind, then he is a not a competent person to make a living will and in that case, it is a medical board which will have to look into the affairs and not the individual. Safeguards have to be there and nothing more could be done,” the ASG said, adding the court could work out modalities on safeguards.
The court was hearing a petition seeking that the right to die with dignity should be declared a fundamental right.