Bombay HC Raps Maharashtra Govt For Not Implementing SC Judgment On Living Will

Bombay HC Raps Maharashtra Govt For Not Implementing SC Judgment On Living Will

A living will is a written, legal document that spells out medical treatments one would and would not want used to keep one alive, as well as preferences for other medical decisions, such as pain management or organ donation.

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Friday, June 21, 2024, 08:42 AM IST
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Bombay HC |

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court rapped the Maharashtra govenrment and the authorities for failing to implement the Supreme Court judgment on “Living Will” in toto and remarked it is “unfortunate” that a person has to file a petition to get the apex order implemented.

A living will is a written, legal document that spells out medical treatments one would and would not want used to keep one alive, as well as preferences for other medical decisions, such as pain management or organ donation.

The HC was hearing a PIL filed by Dr Nikhil Datar, a gynaecologist and a judicial activist, seeking implementation of the SC directive that simplified the guidelines of passive euthanasia and also sought that the state government and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) be directed to appoint a custodian for the same.

State Informs HC On Appointments Linked To Living Will Matter

The State had earlier informed the HC that it had appointed 417 such custodians – 388 in nagar parishads and 29 across municipal bodies – of living will.

On Thursday, Datar informed the bench that apart from the primary medical board which gives its opinion on the execution of a living will, the state is also supposed to have a secondary medical board, which includes a registered medical practitioner, which is not in place. The secondary medical board affirms the opinion of the primary board, after which the will can be executed. Without the secondary board, the living cannot be executed, he emphasised.

The bench then pulled up the State advocate. “It is unfortunate that a person has to file a petition to comply with directions of the Supreme Court. Why can't you have a permanent secondary board? Every doctor is registered. You nominate one permanent doctor? Why can't you do this?” a bench of Chief Justice DK Upadhyaya and Justice Amit Borkar said.

Datar informed the judges that he visited the custodian to deposit his living will, and when he asked the certifying officer how the will would be retrieved after 20 years, the custodian had no answer. Similar issues were being faced by other patients who deposited their living wills.

The custodian neither verified his identity nor provide any serial number of the document. “These documents would have to be retrieved urgently, as and when required. How can it be done without verification and serial number? Tomorrow if he (custodian) retires, whom to go to ( to retrieve the living will, if required)?” asked Datar.

The court will examine, on the next date of hearing, about having the infrastructure in place.

The HC has asked the BMC to file its reply affidavit. The court also issued notices to the Medical Council of India (MCI) and Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW) after Datar sought to add them as respondents.

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