Free Press Journal

Centre seeks public opinion on passive euthanasia draft bill


New Delhi: The Centre has sought public opinion on a draft bill on ‘passive euthanasia’ which involves giving the right to patients to “withhold medical treatment or life support system for continuance of life”.

Health Ministry has put up the draft of Medical Treatment of Terminally Ill Patients [Protection of Patients and Medical Practitioners]) Bill in public domain and sought comments from various stakeholders by June 19.

“Government has decided to solicit public opinion/ comments before formulation of law on passive euthanasia. An explanatory note along with a brief on euthanasia and draft bill (Medical Treatment of Terminally Ill Patients [Protection of Patients and Medical Practitioners]) as given by the Law Commission in its 241st report is being uploaded for soliciting public comments/opinions. The comments may be sent via email preferably by June 19,” a Health Ministry notification signed by Under Secretary Sunil Kumar said.

According to the note, passive euthanasia, also known as “negative euthanasia involves withholding of medical treatment or withholding life support system for continuance of life, withholding of antibiotic where without doing it the patient is likely to die or removing a heart-lung machine from a patient in coma”.

The matter regarding formulation of a regulatory provision for euthanasia was examined by the ministry in 2006 but based on the report of experts, it had opted not to make such a law.

Subsequently the Supreme Court in its judgement in 2011 laid down comprehensive guidelines to process passive euthanasia and said the process should be followed all over the country until a legislation is made in this regard. Meanwhile the Law Commission again proposed for a legislation in 2012 and prepared the draft bill which deals with passive euthanasia and ‘living will’, which is defined as a document in which a person desires to have or not have extraordinary life prolonging measures used when recovery is not possible from his/her terminal condition.

“Based on the recommendations of the Law Commission in its 241st report and examination of the draft bill by the Ministry, it is being contemplated to enact or not to enact a law on passive euthanasia,” the explanatory note of the ministry said.