Millennium Post

Centre moving to legalise passive euthanasia

New Delhi: In a major relief to patients suffering from incurable diseases, the Centre is mulling to legalise passive euthanasia (mercy killing). According to sources, the government has formulated a comprehensive policy and a draft in this regard is ready which has been sent to the Law Ministry for its approval after examining the legal aspects of the norms.
The draft, if approved by the Law Ministry, would help patients in the vegetative state to decide whether they want to live on life support system or die with dignity.
"The draft has been sent only for legalising passive euthanasia. There is no such plan to allow active euthanasia and violators would face legal actions as per the law of the land," the sources said, adding, "The proposed law would prove to be great help for patients/ relatives with poor financial conditions as 'keeping' a patient alive on life support system is not possible for everyone."
"The permission would be granted to only those patients suffering from incurable diseases after doctors declare that the patients can be allowed to die on the basis their response to medication," the source said, adding that patients have been divided into two categories.
"Patients, who can take the decision of their own, have been included in the first category, while patients who are in the coma and cannot respond have been put into the second category," the sources said.
In second category cases, the decision on mercy killing would be taken by a medical board on the request of relatives of patients.
"There are stringent punishment provisions for violators of the norms in the proposed draft. The jail term of up to 10 years and a hefty penalty from Rs 20 lakh to Rs 1 crore has been incorporated into the draft if anyone, including doctors, is found violating the norms," the sources said.
"In the proposed draft, there is no such clause to allow active euthanasia, which means no patients would be allowed to die by medical intervention. The draft is only for legalising passive euthanasia," the sources maintained.
Notably, in March 2011, the Supreme Court had allowed "passive euthanasia" of
withdrawing life support to patients in the permanently vegetative state but had refused mercy killing of Aruna Shanbaug.
A two-judge bench of Justice Markandeya Katju and Justice Gyan Sudha Mishra laid a set of tough guidelines under which passive euthanasia could be legalised through High Court monitored mechanism.
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