Supreme Court grants Recognition to “Living Wills”

The SC, in its judgment dated March 9, 2018 in the case of Common Cause (A Regd. Society) v. Union of India and Another,[1] gave recognition to “living wills” by terminally ill patients, and held that the right to life and liberty as envisaged under Article 21 of the Constitution of India includes the right to live with dignity. The SC further observed that the right to live with dignity also includes the smoothening of the process of dying in case of a terminally ill patient or a person in a persistent vegetative state with no hope of recovery. The SC drew a distinction between active euthanasia and passive euthanasia as the former entails a positive affirmative act, while the latter relates to withdrawal of life support measures or withholding of medical treatment meant for artificially prolonging life. Further, the SC provided that directions and guidelines laid down by it to give effect to passive euthanasia will remain in force till a legislation is passed by the Parliament on this subject.

[1]     Writ Petition (Civil) No. 215 of 2005.


Published In:Inter Alia - Quarterly Edition - March 2018 [ English Chinese japanese ]
Date: March 1, 2018