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India’s top court upholds passive euthanasia with guidelines | World

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A view of the Indian Supreme Court. Photo: Reuters

India’s Supreme Court ruled on Friday that individuals had a right to die with dignity, allowing passive euthanasia with guidelines in a landmark verdict.

The top court also permitted individuals to draft a “living will” specifying that they not be put on life support if they slip into an incurable coma.

The five-judge Constitution bench headed by the Chief Justice of India said, “human beings have a right to die with dignity”. 

Though the judges gave four separate opinions, all of them were unanimous that a “living will” should be allowed.

Passive euthanasia will be applicable to only a terminally ill person with no hope for recovery, the court said. The court further spoke of involving a medical board to determine whether the patient in a vegetative state could be revived or not.

The SC said it was aware of the pitfalls in giving effect to ‘living wills’, considering the property disputes relatives have. Therefore, the SC said the relatives of a patient who has not written a ‘living will’ can approach high courts asking for passive euthanasia.

In 2015, the death of a 66-year-old nurse Aruna Shanbaug, who was sexually assaulted and left in a vegetative state for more than 40 years, had sparked a national debate over the legalization of euthanasia.

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