Parliament better qualified to decide issue relating to ban on Assisted Suicide

United Kingdom Supreme Court: In a matter  concerning the debate about the law relating to assisted suicide, a nine judge bench was unanimously of the opinion that though the Courts have jurisdiction under the Human Rights Act, 1998 to determine whether the current universal ban on assisting suicide is compatible with Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (Convention), but considered that the question raised in the appeals relating to assisted suicides turns on issues which Parliament is in principle better qualified to decide as it involves important elements of social policy and a moral value-judgment, which are inherently more suitable for decision by Parliament as the representative organ of the constitution. Considering the fact that the issue required a judgment about the relative importance of the right to commit suicide and the right of the vulnerable, especially the old and sick, to be protected from direct or indirect pressure to do so, the Court was of the opinion that the Parliamentary process is a better way of resolving issues involving controversial and complex questions of fact arising out of moral and social dilemmas in a manner which allows all interests and opinions to be expressed and considered. Regarding the question relating to compatibility of the existing laws with Article 8 of the Convention, the Court held that Section 2 of the Suicide Act, 1961 engages Article 8 of the Convention as it prevents people who are physically unable to commit suicide without assistance from determining how and when they should die and it is, thus, a justified interference if it satisfies the requirements of the said Article, i.e. if it is “necessary in a democratic society” for one or more of the purposes specified in that article, which in the present context would be “for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others”. R v. Ministry of Justice, 2014 UKSC 38, decided on 25 June 2014

To read the full judgment, refer to SCCOnLine

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