SC refuses to entertain PIL on ‘living will’
The Supreme Court on 21 October 2016 refused to entertain a PIL seeking right to make ‘living will’ to regulate
treatment and even refuse life-sustaining artificial treatment when a patient enters a stage of brain death. Living Will is a written statement detailing a person’s desires regarding future medical treatment in circumstances in which he or she is no longer able to express informed consent or an advance directive.
- A bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur noted that the Medical Treatment of Terminally Ill Patients (Protection of Patients and Medical Practitioners) Bill on passive euthanasia was already pending in Parliament and no “interference” was required at this stage.
- We see no reason to interfere in the matter at this stage with the on-going process when Parliament is seized of the bill on the subject sought to be agitated in this petition. The writ petition is accordingly dismissed,” the bench, also comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao, said.
- The apex court was hearing a PIL filed by Mumbai resident Girish Trimbak Gokhale and others who contended that the right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution also incorporated the right to decide one’s future medical care in the case of terminal illness.
- Issue an appropriate writ, order or direction under Article 32 of the Constitution declaring that any person, in a mental capacity to make decisions, has the right to choose or even refuse any kind of medical treatment, which right cannot be curtailed by any health care provider,” the PIL, filed through advocate Nitin Mishra, said.
- It had also sought framing of guidelines “for exercising of the patient’s rights to autonomy under Article 32 read with Article 142 of the Constitution and issue a Writ of Mandamus directing such guidelines shall be enforced by all health care providers until such time appropriate legislation covering this field is put in place.