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Supreme Court allows passive euthanasia, 'living will'

Supreme Court allows passive euthanasia, 'living will'

In news:

The Supreme Court has allowed passive euthanasia, but made sure to set out strict guidelines that will govern when it is permitted.

The apex court also permitted an individual to draft a 'living will' specifying they not be put on life support if they slip into an incurable coma.


  • The order was passed by a five-judge Constitution bench of Chief Justice (CJI) Dipak Misra and Justices A K Sikri, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan. The apex court's order came on a plea by the NGO 'Common Cause'.
  • The top court also set in place strict guidelines for carrying out the mandate of a 'living will'. The court did this by specifying who is authorised to give effect to it. The court also talked of involving a medical board to determine whether the patient in a vegetative state could be revived or not.

About Euthanasia:

  • Euthanasia refers to the painless killing of a patient, who is either in a vegetative state or going through a non-reversible disease.
  • There are two types of Euthanasias which are broadly used in medical terms, active and passive.

Active Euthanasia vs Passive Euthanasia

  • Active Euthanasia means that the medical professional deliberately does something that leads to the death of the patient.
  • Passive Euthanasia, on the other hand, refers to the complete deprivation of any further medical treatment such as slowly getting rid of useful medicines and discontinuation of basics such as food and water so that the patient dies under strained circumstances.
  • It can be said that active euthanasia is killing while passive euthanasia is letting die.
  • The debate over passive Euthanasia is simple. Many believe that it is acceptable to withhold medical treatment and allowing the patient to die as it means that their suffering will stop once and for all.
  • Passive Euthanasia can mean giving the patient painkillers that can eventually lead to death. Active Euthanasia can include the decision of the patient himself or herself or their family members to let the patient die.