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Legalise mercy killing, suggests law panel

SEEKING TO legalise mercy killing in the case of terminally ill patients, the Law Commission has suggested to the government to consider if a legislation can be enacted under which life-support systems can be withdrawn in the patients' "best interests".

india Updated: Jun 15, 2006 01:32 IST
PTI

SEEKING TO legalise mercy killing in the case of terminally ill patients, the Law Commission has suggested to the government to consider if a legislation can be enacted under which life-support systems can be withdrawn in the patients' "best interests".

In a report, the commission said that under such circumstances, no criminal case should be made against the patient, the doctor or anyone else for the decision.

Sources said the report asked the government to study if a patient could be "competent" to take a decision on "withholding or withdrawing" medical treatment, including artificial nutrition and hydration.

The commission submitted its report recently to the Law Ministry, which has sent it to the Health Ministry for its views. "Ultimately the cabinet has to decide whether such a bill should be brought in Parliament," the sources said.

Law Minister H.R. Bhardwaj, they said, was against euthanasia and was of the view that a larger debate was needed along with opinions of various groups and experts before arriving at a decision.

The report said if the terminally ill patients refused medical treatment, they should not be charged with attempting to commit suicide nor should their relatives and doctors be accused of abetting suicide.

The sources said the government would seek the views of the Medical Council of India on the issue.

The report made it clear that a patient's support systems be withdrawn only when doctors were sure that there was no hope of recovery.

Issues relating to possible misuse, abuse and safeguards would have to be considered, it was added.