Even after nine months of a Supreme Court order to appoint a custodian to safeguard living wills and the right to die with dignity, the Brihanmumbai Mumbai Municipal has not taken a single step in the matter.
As per the SC order, a person desirous of creating a living will must notarise two copies of it. While one copy remains with the person who is supposed to take decisions on the testator’s behalf, the other has to be sent to the local civic body custodian. During the execution of the will, this has to be shown to the doctor by the proxy holder, who will then verify it with the custodian’s copy.
Renowned Gynaecologist Shares Awareness On Right To Die With Dignity
Gynaecologist and judicial activist Dr Nikhil Datar was the first person in the country to notarise his living will, on February 22. Following in his tracks, 15,000 doctors in India have come forward to do the same. In order to create awareness, Dr Datar started conducting lectures, which encouraged many people to come forward and to notarise their living wills. “So far, nine people have notarised their living wills across the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR), after attending my lectures on euthanasia. But there is no mechanism in place to safeguard the living wills, resulting in demur by many people who want to notarise it,” he said.
In 2018, the Supreme Court had legalised passive euthanasia and recognised the ‘right to die with dignity’ as an integral component of the fundamental right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution.
For this, the court said that those who wanted, could make a living will—in the absence of this, members of their family could make a plea before the high court to seek permission for passive euthanasia. The apex court, in January this year, amended the existing guidelines to simplify the process of creating living wills.
Dr Datar further added that the civic body was obliged to nominate a competent authority as per the SC order. Further, an RTI application was also filed in July, which was directed to the health department but there was no response.
“The main reason to have a competent authority for safeguarding living wills is because these are important documents which should not get lost in other documents or files,” he said.