Right to Die Guidelines Day #4: Bench Accepts Joint Proposal and Delivers Final Order

Euthanasia and the Right to Die with Dignity

Today, the 5-Judge Constitution Bench led by Justice K.M. Joseph accepted the joint proposal for modifications to the SC’s 2018 guidelines on exercising the right to die with dignity through ‘Advance Directives’, in order to make the process ‘workable’. Advance Directives allow individuals to provide instructions if a situation arises where they fall terminally ill and are unable to communicate their wishes. In the last hearing, the Bench asked the Union and the Indian Society for Critical Care to submit a joint proposal.

Senior Advocate Arvind Datar, representing the Indian Society for Critical Care (ISCC), submitted a chart with the proposed changes to the 2018 guidelines which were decided after discussions with the Union government.

The Bench decided that the primary medical board and the review board will have 48 hours each to decide whether to implement the ‘Advance Directive’ and withdraw life support. The Bench also agreed to making the qualifications for board members less stringent. The board members must be ‘…subject experts of atleast 5 years experience in the concerned speciality’. Previously, members were required to have 20 years of experience.

After making a handful of other minor changes, such as deleting the parts of the guidelines that required inputs from the Collector and the Judicial Magistrate (as proposed in the first hearing), the Bench delivered the final Order in the case.

The Bench orally delivered the Order and accepted the joint proposal submitted by ISCC and the Union, subject to the minor changes proposed by the Bench during the hearings. The Order contains a table of all the changes.

Before concluding the proceedings, Sr. Adv. Datar gave the Bench a parting gift. Each Judge received a signed copy of Arun Shouries’ book ‘Preparing: For Death’. Mr. Datar made references to the book in previous hearings.