In a landmark judgment on 9 March, a five-judge Supreme Court bench, headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, ruled that it was a fundamental right to die with dignity, recognising ‘living will’ to be made by terminally-ill patients, paving way for passive euthanasia to be adopted.
The judgment marks the end of a long-drawn battle fought by the advocates of euthanasia. Here is a look at the events as they unfolded in the run-up to the judgment.
- 11 May 2005: SC takes note of a PIL filed by 'Common Cause', an NGO. The petition seeks to allow terminally-ill persons to execute a living will for passive euthanasia. SC asks the Centre to respond on the plea which seeks declaration of 'right to die with dignity' as a Fundamental Right under Article 21 (right to life) of the Constitution.
- 16 Jan 2006: SC allows Delhi Medical Council (DMC) to intervene and asks it to file documents on passive euthanasia.
- 28 Apr 2006: Law Commission suggests a draft bill on passive euthanasia and says such pleas be made to HCs, which should decide after taking expert views.
- 31 Jan 2007: SC asks parties to file documents.
- 7 Mar 2011: SC, on a separate plea on behalf of Aruna Shanbaug, allows passive euthanasia for the nurse lying in vegetative state at a hospital in Mumbai.
- 23 Jan 2014: A three-judge bench, led by then CJI P Sathasivam, starts the final hearing in the case.
- 11 Feb 2014: DMC files a copy of proceedings of International Workshop for Policy Statement on Euthanasia in India and SC reserves verdict.
- 25 Feb 2014: SC cites inconsistencies in earlier verdicts on passive euthanasia, including the one given in the Shanbaug case, and refers the PIL to a Constitution bench.
- 15 July 2014: A five-judge bench commences hearing in the plea, issues notices to all states and UTs, and appoints senior advocate TR Andhyarujina as an amicus curiae. He dies during the pendency of the case.
- 15 Feb 2016: Centre says that it is deliberating the issue.
- 11 Oct 2017: Five-judge Constitution bench led by CJI Dipak Misra hears arguments and reserves the verdict.
- 9 March 2018: SC recognises 'living will' made by terminally-ill patients for passive euthanasia and lays down guidelines on procedures to be adopted for it.
(With inputs from PTI)