NEW DELHI: Changing its stance on euthanasia, the Government of India has on Friday announced that it would soon frame a legislation permitting passive euthanasia. Earlier, the same NDA government at the Centre has strongly opposed the supreme court’s decision to consider passive euthanasia as legal. However, the constitutional process on bringing a legislature on euthanasia will begin only after the Supreme court’s verdict on it.
In its response to a petition filed by ‘Common Cause’ an NGO, the Government replied “Based on the expert committee recommendations, the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) has proposed to formulate a legislation on passive euthanasia. However, the committee has not been in favor of active euthanasia as it has more potential for misuse”.
Euthanasia, also known as ‘Mercy killing’ is carried in two different ways called as Passive Euthanasia and Active Euthanasia. Euthanasia is allowed when a patient requests for ending his life, unable to bear the suffering of a fatal illness. However for this to happen the patient has to file a petition in the court and the doctors will have to unanimously declare that the patient has no chances of survival. Active euthanasia involves a doctor injecting a lethal medicine which triggers a cardiac arrest, while in passive euthanasia, doctors, with the support of the patient’s family members and relatives, withdraws the life support system of the patient being kept alive with the help of the machines.
Active euthanasia is practically used only in a few countries till date. However, India lacks a proper law on even passive euthanasia.
In July, 2014 a five-judge bench has taken up the petition on euthanasia and is yet to deliver its final verdict on it. The Centre has informed the Supreme court on Friday that the government will go ahead on formulating a law on euthanasia. In his response Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi said, “We are working on it. However, we are not accepting euthanasia in principle. We await the court’s decision to start the legal procedure on drafting the bill. Our stance, has not changed in whichever form, over this issue. The court has no provision to decide on such issues, as it is with the parliament to debate and form a legislature on it”.
Agreeing with the Attorney General in principle, the Supreme court has sought for the opinion of the states and the Union Territories, stressing that it wanted a country-wide debate on it before making any legislature.