Supreme Court: The Constitutional bench of RM Lodha, CJ and J S Khehar, J. Chelameswar , Dr. A.K. Sikri and RF Nariman, considering the importance of deciding the matter relating to euthanasia and declaring ‘right to die with dignity’ as a fundamental right within the fold of ‘right to live with dignity’ guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution, issued notices to the State Governments and the Union Territories, seeking their views on the issue. The State Government and the Union Territories need to respond to the said notice within 8 weeks. Earlier, vide order dated 25.02.2014 (2014) 5 SCC 338, the 3 judge of the Court invited the Constitution Bench to go into all the aspects of the matter and lay down exhaustive guidelines owing to the inconsistent views taken by the Court in Aruna Ramchandra Shanbaug vs. Union of India, (2011) 4 SCC 454, the only judgment that holds the field in regard to euthanasia and right to die in dignity and allowed passive euthanasia.
The present petition, Prashant Bhushan and Mukul Rohatgi representing the petitioner and the respondent, respectively, was filed by an NGO for not only seeking the guidelines of the Court on the said issue but also praying that directions be issued to the respondents to adopt suitable procedures, in consultation with the State Governments wherever necessary, to ensure that the persons with deteriorated health or terminally ill should be able to execute a document, viz., ‘my living will & Attorney authorization’ which can be presented to hospital for appropriate action in the event of the executants being admitted to the hospital with serious illness which may threaten termination of life of the executant or in the alternative, issue appropriate guidelines to this effect and to appoint an Expert Committee consisting of doctors, social scientists and lawyers to study into the aspect of issuing guidelines regarding execution of ‘Living Wills’. Common Cause (A Regd. Society) v. Union of India, Writ Petition(s)(Civil) No(s). 215 OF 2005, decided on 16.07.2014