Supreme Court to hear argument seeking change to guidelines issued on ‘living will’ on November 23

A bench of the Constitution of the Supreme Court on Thursday decided to hear the miscellaneous application to modify the guidelines of the advance medical directive on the living will issued by the Supreme Court in its decision of 09.03.2021, the November 23, 2022.

Appearing before a bench consisting of Judges KM Joseph, Ajay Rastogi, Aniruddha Bose, Hrishikesh Roy and CT Ravikumar, At the beginning, the lead lawyer, Mr. Arvind Datar explained the concept of a living will. A living will is a written document that allows a patient to give explicit instructions in advance about the medical treatment to be administered when they are terminally ill or no longer able to express informed consent. He said –

“We all need to meet our maker. I’m going to give an overview of what the living will is. I can make a statement that if I’m in a coma, brain dead, etc., please don’t interfere. or provide an assisted living system, I would like to die with dignity.So that’s the accepted concept in different parts of the country.

Mr. Datar informed the Chamber that the directives issued by the Court on 09.03.2021 have become impracticable. He explained the obstacles to its implementation. The living will must be signed by the executor in the presence of two attesting witnesses and countersigned by the first class judicial magistrate (JMFC). He argued that suppose after 10 years the executor is admitted to a hospital and the team of doctors certifies that there is no hope of recovery, as per the guidelines, then the case should be sent to the receiver. , which would constitute another council of doctors who would give a second opinion. Thereafter, the jurisdictional JMFC must personally visit the hospital and authenticate the document. Mr. Datar argued that this cumbersome process is not feasible and therefore some suggestions have been made in this application to modify the guidelines.

Mr. Datar informed the bench that the Union Government, the sole defendant in the case, filed a counter affidavit stating that the suggestions are not appropriate.

Judge Rastogi suggested that there could be only one committee and that the first relative of the executor could be included in the decision-making process.

“A committee of doctors can make a decision all at once. If they can’t make a decision, the first parent can’t make the decision.”

India’s Solicitor General, Mr. Tushar Mehta, expressed concern that ‘old people in some families become undesirable, so the living will should not be misused‘. He feared that if sufficient safeguards were not in place, in some cases the elderly person would be forced by their family members to sign a living will and the worst possible scenario would be that they would be murdered after signing the document. . He indicated that he would meet with the Government of India to discuss the issues raised in the request.

Judge Bose noted, “This is essentially in the legislative domain.”

Mr Datar argued that the Supreme Court’s living will guidelines resemble Vishakha’s guidelines, which would be in effect until the legislation is put in place.

Mr. Mehta suggested that this is not an adversarial matter, so there can be a joint meeting between the parties and relevant officials.

As Mr. Datar pleaded with the judiciary to make suggestions in this regard, Justice Roy observed: “There’s a really interesting movie and the title is ‘Whose Life Is It Anyway?’ debate. .”

During the hearing, Mr. Mehta referred to the article by philosopher Bertrand Russel “The right to commit suicide”. On the question of suicide, Judge Joseph considered “Many cases of suicide can be attributed to mental health issues. If they had been properly advised, they could have been brought back.

The Solicitor General was of the opinion,“There may not be a lot of followers of that view, but maybe that’s because of the shrinking family…there are just virtual friends left.”

[CaseStatus:CommonCausevUoIMA1699/2019inWP(C)No215/2005[CaseStatus:CommonCausevUoIMA1699/2019inWP(C)No215/2005[Statutdel’affaire :CommonCausevUoIMA1699/2019dansWP(C)No215/2005[CaseStatus:CommonCausevUoIMA1699/2019inWP(C)No215/2005

Comments are closed.