The Supreme Court on Wednesday reserved its verdict on a plea seeking the mercy killing of a 60-year-old woman who has been lying in a vegetative state for the last 37 years.
Aruna Shanbaug has been bed-ridden in King Edward Memorial Hospital, Mumbai, after she was sexually assaulted by a sweeper of the hospital where she was working as a nurse.
The hospital staff has been looking after her since then. Shanbaug's family abandoned her within a few days.
A bench of Justice Markandey Katju and Justice Gyan Sudha Mishra reserved the judgment after hearing views by the counsel representing the petitioner, Centre and KEM Hospital.
Counsel Andhyarjuna rendered his assistance as amicus curiae.
Attorney General GE Vahanvati opposed the petition filed by Shanbaug's next of friend, Pinki Virani. He challenged Virani's locus standi and said the right to move such a petition bestowed upon the nurses who were taking care of Shanbaug.
Vahanvati argued against allowing euthanasia on the ground that the Indian society continued to be "backward" and “emotional”. The AG said even relatives could not be allowed to take the decision.
Andhyarjuna countered Vahanvati and argued in favour of permitting passive euthanasia.
But, the decision to terminate a life should rest upon the medical body responsible for treating the person concerned. Referring to Shanbaug’s case, Andhyarjuna said none of the doctors opined that life-support system should be withdrawn.