SC upholds passive euthanasia

Why in News?

The Supreme Court has upheld passive euthanasia and the right to give advance medical directives or ‘Living Wills’ to smoothen the dying process as part of the fundamental right to live with dignity.




In 2011, the apex court had recognised passive euthanasia in Aruna Shanbaug’s case by which it had permitted withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment from patients not in a position to make an informed decision.

The Centre had opposed recognition of ‘living will’ and said the consent for removal of artificial support system given by a patient may not be an informed one and without being aware of medical advancements. It had cited examples of various countries in disallowing creation of living will.

Passive euthanasia

It is the act of withdrawing or withholding medical support to a dying patient who has no hope for revival or cure.

Living Will

A living will is a written document by way of which a patient can give his explicit instructions in advance about the medical treatment to be administered when he or she is terminally ill or no longer able to express informed consent.

Highlights of the Judgment

The Supreme Court  ruled that the fundamental right to life and dignity under Article 21 of the Constitution includes the “right to die with dignity.”

It also issued guidelines in recognition of  “living will” made by terminally-ill patients. These guidelines include who can execute the will and under what conditions can the medical board endorse passive euthanasia. The apex court further stated that its guidelines and directives shall remain in force till a legislation is brought to deal with the issue


Source-The Hindu.