Delhi HC refuses to refer to medical board man’s case for allowing passive euthanasia

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Delhi High Court

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New Delhi: The Delhi High Court has refused to refer to a medical board the case of a 30-year-old man, who suffered head injuries in 2013 and is lying in a vegetative state, for allowing to undergo passive euthanasia.

The high court said the facts of the case indicate the man is not being kept alive mechanically and he is able to sustain himself without any extra external aid.

“The petitioner is not on any life support system and the petitioner is surviving without any external aid. While the court sympathises with the parents, as the petitioner is not terminally ill, this court cannot intervene and allow consideration of a prayer that is legally untenable,” Justice Subramonium Prasad said.

The high court also referred to several Supreme Court judgements in which it was held that active euthanasia is legally impermissible.

“The petitioner is thus living and no one, including a physician, is permitted to cause the death of another person by administering any lethal drug, even if the objective is to relieve the patient from pain and suffering,” it said.

The court said it is not inclined to accept the request of the petitioner to refer him to a medical board to consider whether he can be allowed to undergo passive euthanasia and dismissed the petition.

Passive euthanasia refers to intentionally letting a patient die by withholding artificial life support such as a ventilator or feeding tube.

The high court was hearing a plea by a man for a direction to constitute a medical board to examine his health condition for administration of passive euthanasia.

As per the petition, the petitioner, who is about 30 years old, was a student of Punjab University and had suffered head injuries after falling from the fourth floor of his paying guest house in 2013.

The plea said the petitioner’s family has done their best to treat him, however, he has been confined to bed since 2013 due to diffuse axonal injury with permanent vegetative state and 100 per cent disability.

The plea said his family has consulted various doctors and they have been informed that there is no scope of his recovery and the petitioner, who has not responded for the last 11 years, has developed deep and large bed sores which have caused further infection.

It said the petitioner’s family has lost all hope for his recovery and the parents are not in a position to take care of him as they are getting old.