Mumbai: Human rights activist and author Pinki Virani, who had sought mercy killing for Aruna Shanbaug, a nurse who was in a vegetative state for 42 years before dying in 2015, today hailed the Supreme Court judgment in favour of passive euthanasia.
“I am deeply grateful to the Supreme Court of India for upholding the landmark judgment of March, 2011 on passive euthanasia,” she told PTI.
The apex court on Friday recognised the “living will” made by terminally-ill patients for passive euthanasia. A five-judge Constitution bench, headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra, said passive euthanasia and an advance living will were “permissible”. The bench also laid down guidelines as to who could execute the will and how the nod for passive euthanasia could be granted by the medical board.
Virani had approached the Supreme Court in 2009 as the “next friend” of Shanbaug, who was in a vegetative state after being assaulted and raped by a wardboy-cum-sweeper at the KEM Hospital in Mumbai in 1973. Shanbaug, who became the face of the debate on euthanasia in the country, died in May, 2015.
“This judgment is because of Aruna Shanbaug, who suffered for 42 years. We must thank her,” Virani said.
“I had approached the Supreme Court in 2009 as the next friend of Shanbaug and the Supreme Court had passed a judgment on passive euthanasia on March 8, 2011. In that judgment, it was mentioned that it would stand as the law until revoked or ratified by Parliament.
“This law has been valid since 2011 and the Supreme Court upheld it today, allowing the living will,” she added. Stating that active euthanasia was not allowed in the country, Virani said, “Passive euthanasia is allowed when a patient is in a persistent vegetative state (PVS) like Aruna Shanbaug.”