The order was passed by a five-judge Constitution bench comprising Chief Justice (CJI) Dipak Misra and Justices A K Sikri, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan on a plea by an NGO "Common Cause".
The Supreme Court has recently delivered two progressive judgments that restore fundamental rights that would go a long way in humanising healthcare: the privacy judgment previous year and this one on advance will and passive euthanasia.
Directives and guidelines shall remain in force till Parliament brings a legislation.
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The 538-page judgment places management of terminally ill patients at the center stage.
Passive euthanasia entails a patient being allowed to die by limiting medical intervention, not escalating already aggressive treatment, withholding or withdrawing artificial life support in cases that are judged to be medically futile. Approving the will to die, the Apex Court said that the dignity in death is a facet of right to life.
In the judgment, the five judges quoted literary greats such as Swami Vivekananda, poets Lord Alfred Tennyson, John Dryden, and John Donne among a few, introduced the subject and looked at how life and death have been perceived across time.
The judgment unequivocally declares the right to die in dignity as a part of Article 21 ( Right to life). It has also given sanction to 'Passive Euthanasia' and 'Living Will' and thereby issued guidelines in this regard.
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The provisions are mandatory to ensure humane care of the dying, restoring their dignity and meaningfulness in the dying process.
The draft Bill provides protection to patients and medical practitioners (from liability) for withdrawing medical treatment of terminally ill patients.
The document 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. OR was the first U.S. state to legalise "assisted suicide". It has laid down norms governing execution and instructions regarding enforcement of living wills, as well as the procedure to be followed for passive Euthanasia in case there is no living will. Previously, all forms of euthanasia were illegal. In Australia, there is a system of "advance directive" to allow citizens to decide how they would like to be treated in future, if they are incompetent to make a decision at that point.
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