Even as the Supreme Court legalises passive euthanasia in India, at least two petitions seeking legal sanction for active euthanasia remain pending before it.
One such petition is by an NGO — Society for the Right to Die with Dignity — which had in February 2009 moved the apex court seeking legalisation of voluntary euthanasia.
Citing Indian cultural and religious traditions in Jainism and Hinduism, the NGO has demanded that voluntary euthanasia should be allowed for terminally ill patients.
Maintaining that the objective of euthanasia was relief from unbearable sufferings and pain, the NGO said there should be legal recognition of “an advanced directive” in the form of a “living will” executed by an individual in full possession of his/her decision-making capacity, without any duress, enunciating the condition of ill health in which he/she would not like to prolong life by artificial support. In such a situation, persons duly authorised by the patient should be allowed to arrange for termination of his/her life.
The NGO’s petition was clubbed along with another petition filed by Common Cause, which contended that “right to die with dignity” was included in the “right to live with dignity” guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.
The petitioner also demanded amendment to Section 309 of the IPC (which makes attempt to suicide punishable) to exclude euthanasia. A SC bench headed by justice Markandey Katju, which legalised passive euthanasia on Monday, also recommended scrapping of Section 309 of the IPC.