Judgement of the day: Common Cause v. Union of India

Bench:

Dipak Misra, CJI; Justice A.K Sikri; Justice D. Y Chandrachud; Justice Ashok Bhushan & Justice A.M Khanwilkar.


Facts:

In 2005, a registered NGO filed PIL in the Supreme Court under Art.32 of the Indian constitution to legalize living will and passive euthanasia. Prior to this the registered society wrote letters to ministry of law and justice, ministry of health and family welfare with regard to passive euthanasia. The petitioners received no response from the government and thus filed the PIL. The petitioner’s contended that the right to live with dignity is a person’s right till his death so it can be extended to include the right to have a dignified death. And that the modern technology has given rise such a situation whereby life of the patient is unnecessarily prolonged causing distress and agony to the patient and his relatives.


The petitioners further contended for legalizing living wills whereby a person undergoing persistent pain and suffering can write about the medical treatment and authorize the family to stop such treatment.


Judgement:

The Supreme Court in this case held that an individual has a right to die with dignity as a part of his/her Right to life and personal liberty under Art.21 of the Indian Constitution. This ruling thus permits the removal of life-support systems for the terminally ill or those in incurable comas. The court further permitted individuals to decide against artificial life support, and recognized the need for creating a living will.


The Court in this particular case further laid down certain propositions regarding the procedure for execution of Advance Directives and provided the guidelines thereof to give effect to passive euthanasia.


Therefore this is a judgment in right direction. Those suffering from chronic diseases are often subjected to persistent pain and suffering and the treatments where there is no cure but only medication and treatment that only prolongs life. Denying them the right to die in a dignified manner extends their suffering. Hence, the court is right in declaring Right to Die with Dignity as a Fundamental Right as it would help in reducing the pains of those suffering from chronic treatments and they will be able to die in a dignified manner.

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