The Supreme Court would on Monday deliver its much-awaited verdict on the legality of mercy-killing in the Aruna Shanbaug case.
A bench of Justice Markandey Katju and Justice Gyan Sudha Misra will pronounce the judgment on a plea filed by a Mumbai-based social activist, Pinki Virani, seeking permission to stop force-feeding 60-year-old Shanbaug, a former nurse, who has been lying in a vegetative state at KEM hospital for the last 37 years.
Shanbaug was raped by the hospital’s sweeper in November 1973. The rapist had tried to strangle her with a dog chain following which she suffered brain damage.The court had reserved its verdict on March 2 after holding a day-long hearing wherein the government opposed euthanasia for Shanbaug.
Attorney general GE Vahanvati challenged Virani’s locus standi and argued against euthanasia saying Indian society was “backward” and “emotional”.
He gave examples of foreign countries where a legislation supporting euthanasia could never be brought into force and said euthanasia could be misused to settle property disputes.
Senior counsel TR Andhyarjuna assisted the court as amicus curiae (friend of court).
Though he supported “passive euthanasia” and found nothing amiss in stopping feeding Shanbaug, he contended the final decision to terminate life should rest upon the medical body responsible for treating the person concerned.
In Shanbaug’s case there was no medical opinion suggesting to end her life.
KEM hospital’s counsel Pallav Sisodia made an emotional plea and told the court that its management was willing to look after Shanbaug.
“There hasn’t been a bedsore in the past 37 years. The nursing staff is attatched to her,” he had said.