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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Supreme Court Reserves Judgment on Euthanasia Plea

Source : Indlaw

The Supreme Court today reserved its judgement in a landmark case on a petition filed by nurse Aruna Ramachandra Shanbaug who is in coma for the last 37 years after being raped on November 27, 1973, seeking permission to end her life as a mercy killing. 

A bench comprising Justices Markandey Katju and Gyan Sudha Misra reserved the judgement after hearing the parties. 

Attorney General G E Vahanvati appearing for the Centre opposed the plea of Ms Pinki Virani who claiming to be the next friend of the victim is seeking permission for euthanasia meaning mercy killing. 

Mr Vahanvati submitted before the court that Aruna Shanbaug has the right to live in her present state and her present condition does not justify terminating her life by withdrawing hydration/food/medical support. Such omissions will be cruel, inhuman and intolerable and such type of so called mercy killing is unknown to Indian law and is also contrary to law. 

The AG also submitted before the court that if such mercy killing is allowed it will be contrary to law and all efforts put in by batches after batches of nurses of KEM hospital, Mumbai, for the last 37 years, will be undermined and it will lead to disheartenment and large scale disillusionment among the nurses. Mr Vahanvati also questioned the locus of Ms Virani.

Aruna was strangled with a dog chain to immobilise her by the rapist Sohanlal who has already served seven years imprisonment. Aruna, who is bedridden for the last 37 years, is presently 63. 

The hospital is also opposed to the petitioner and counsel for the hospital today submitted before the court that the hospital is not fed up or tired of looking after her and she did not have even a single bed sore for the last 37 years. 

Senior counsel Shekhar Naphade, however, submitted before the court that the victim has been in vegetative state for the last 37 years and has no chance of coming out of her present state and therefore she cannot be denied right to die with dignity. 

The apex court had earlier refused permission to a 19-year-old mentally challenged woman to get her pregnancy terminated even when the medical board had recommended the termination of pregnancy as the would-be-mother cannot understand the concept of pregnancy and she is not capable of providing requisite care to the small baby. 

The Supreme Court is expected to lay down guidelines on the issue of right to die when the life has virtually become an endless burden without any hope of revival.

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