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Delhi HC dismisses plea to refer thirty-year-old man’s case to medical board for consideration of passive euthanasia

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Delhi High Court: In the present petition filed to constitute a Medical Board to examine the health condition of the petitioner for administration of passive euthanasia, Subramoinum Prasad, J., held that as the petitioner was living and no one, including a physician was permitted to cause death of another person by administering any lethal drug, even if the objective was to relieve the patient from pain and suffering, the Court was not inclined to accept the request of the petitioner to refer the petitioner to a Medical Board to consider as to whether the petitioner can be allowed to undergo passive euthanasia.

In the instant case, the petitioner aged 30 years old, was a student at the Panjab University. He suffered head injuries after falling from the fourth floor of his paying guest house. It was stated that the petitioner’s family had done their best to treat him. However, the petitioner had been confined to his bed since 2013 due to diffused axonal injury with Permanent Vegetative state, Quadriplegia with 100% disability.

It was stated in the writ petition that the family of the petitioner had consulted various doctors and they had been informed that there was no scope of recovery of the petitioner from the present situation. It was stated that the petitioner had not responded for the 11 years, and had developed deep and large bed sores which had caused further infection.

The Court after perusal of facts, relied on Common Cause v. Union Of India , where in it was held that, “the right not to take a life saving treatment by a person, who is competent to take an informed decision is not covered by the concept of euthanasia as it is commonly understood but a decision to withdraw life saving treatment by a patient who is competent to take decision as well as with regard to a patient who is not competent to take decision can be termed as passive euthanasia, which is lawful and legally permissible in this country.”

The Court stated that the petitioner was not being kept alive mechanically and he was able to sustain himself without any extra external aid. The petitioner was thus living and no one, including a physician, was permitted to cause death of another person by administering any lethal drug, even if the objective was to relieve the patient from pain and suffering.

The Court was of the view that they were not inclined to accept the request of the petitioner to refer the petitioner to a Medical Board to consider as to whether the petitioner can be allowed to undergo passive euthanasia.

[Harish Rana v. Union of India, W.P. (C) 4927 of 2024, decided on 02-07-2024]



Advocates who appeared in this case :

For Petitioner: Neeraj Gupta, Manish Jain, Vikas Kumar Verma, Chelsi, Anchal, Rajesh Kumar and Shanky Jain, Advocates.

For Respondents: Ripu Daman Bhardwaj, CGSC; Kushagra Kumar and Abhinav Bhardwaj, Advocates for UoI; Satya Ranjan Swain, Panel Counsel for AIIMS; Kautilya Birat, Advocate for R-2; Udit Malik, ASC; Vishal Chanda, Advocates for R-4 and 5.

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