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Passive euthanasia can be permissible -Supreme Court

New Delhi, Mar 7 (): Active euthanasia (mercy killing) is illegal, yet “passive euthanasia” can be permissible in exceptional circumstances, a bench of justices Markandey Katju and Gyan Sudha Mishra said. In a much-awaited verdict, the Supreme Court today ruled that “passive euthanasia” can be permissible in exceptional circumstances but dismissed a plea for mercy killing on behalf of a 60-year-old nurse, living in a vegetative state for the last 37 years in a Mumbai hospital after a brutal sexual assault.

Dismissing the plea filed on behalf of KEM hospital nurse Aruna Ramachandra Shanbaug, the apex court said that as per the facts and circumstances of the case, medical evidence and other material suggest that the victim need not be subjected to euthanasia.

The opposition to the mercy killing plea came from none other than Dr Sanjay Narhari Oak, KEM hospital director.

Oak made a written submission before the Bench, contending that Aruna’s shouts and shrieks have nothing to do with presence of other persons in her hospital room.
“It is not true that she shouts after seeing a man. I do not think Aruna can distinguish between a man and a woman,” he said. She likes listening to songs by Sadguru and grimaces if the tape records were switched off, he said.

The doctor said that the victim liked having non-vegetarian food.“It appears that she relishes fish and occasionally smiles when she is given non-vegetarian food. Since September last, after she developed malaria and her oral intake began to drop, Aruna is being fed through a tube.