The Supreme Court on Monday said that a "people's court" should decide on the legality of euthanasia and the idea of "living will", reported the Times of India. The court was hearing a PIL filed by NGO Common Cause asking for the government to legalise the practice. The Centre asked the Constitution bench to defer the hearing, saying the government was examining a report by the Law Commission to legalise passive euthanasia and may table a Bill in Parliament. The court said that the issue should be debated by the larger public, and will wait till July 20 for the Centre to take a call.
The Hindu reported that the SC bench wondered whether the concept of "living will" — where an individual puts down certain directives to physicians on end-of-life care anticipating a situation where they are unable to communicate this decision later — goes against a person's basic instinct to live. Agreeing with the court, Additional Solicitor-General P S Patwalia drew the example of Formula One World Champion driver Michael Schumacher who has been in coma after a skiing accident in 2013 to drive home the point that a person should be given every minute chance to recover. Justice Rohinton Nariman asked whether a 90-year-old patient would still be bound by a ‘Living Will’ he made at the age of 18.
The Law Commission in its 241st report had recommended: "A competent adult patient has the right to insist that there should be no invasive medical treatment by way of artificial life sustaining measures/treatment and such decision is binding on the doctors attending on such patient provided that the doctor is satisfied that the patient has taken an 'informed decision' based on free exercise of his or her will."
On patients in coma or in vegetative state, the panel had suggested that their relatives "shall have to get clearance from the high court" for withdrawing or withholding life sustaining treatment.