The Law Commission has made a recommendation to the government to initiate measures to enact a comprehensive law on passive euthanasia, subject to certain safeguards.
“It’s not objectionable from a legal and constitutional point of view,” the commission, which advises the government on legal issues, said.
In April 2011, the UPA government had asked the commission to study the feasibility of framing a law for euthanasia after the SC in the Aruna Shanbaug case legalised passive euthanasia and said its verdict will be the law of the land until Parliament enacted a law on the issue.
“(It’s) desirable to enact a law on the lines suggested by the commission at the earliest, so that uncertainty may be resolved and the procedure prescribed by the SC may be refined,” Justice PV Reddi, the commission’s chairman said in a communication to the law minister Salman Khurshid.
In an earlier report too, the commission had recommended legalising passive euthanasia.
But, active euthanasia remains a crime under Section 302 (murder) or 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) of the IPC, along with physician-assisted suicide under Section 306 IPC (abetment to suicide).
The commission has prepared a draft “Medical Treatment of Terminally-ill Patients (Protection of Patients and Medical Practitioners) Bill” for the government’s consideration.
“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/hospital attending on such a patient, provided that the doctor is satisfied that the patient has taken an ‘informed decision’ based on free exercise of his or her will,” the panel said.
Should the patient not be in a position to take healthcare decisions due to an irreversible coma or is in a persistent vegetative state, the doctor’s or relatives’ decision to withhold or withdraw medical treatment is not final, the report stated.