New Delhi, March 7 (IANS) The Supreme Court Monday rejected a petition for the mercy killing of Aruna Shanbaug, who has been in a “persistent vegetative state” for the past 37 years after being sodomised by a hospital sweeper but permitted passive euthanasia if this was allowed by a high court.
An apex court bench of Justice Markandey Katju and Justice Gyan Sudha Misra delivered the ruling while rejecting a petition moved on the 63-year-old Shanbaug’s behalf by her friend and social activist Pinki Virani.
Justice Katju said that active euthanasia is illegal as there is no statutory provision to support it.
However, the court said: “Passive euthanasia is permissible under certain conditions with the approval of the high court.”
It further said the high court will grant its approval after getting the opinion of three eminent doctors and hearing the government and the close relatives of the terminally ill patient sought to be put under passive euthanasia.
The court said this will be the law of the land for passive euthanasia in the case of terminally ill patients till an appropriate law is enacted for this.
The court said though Virani was performing a laudable social service, the staff, doctors and nurses of Mumbai’s King Edward Memorial Hospital, where Shanbaug is admitted, have a greater right over her and only they can decide whether to opt for passive euthanasia or not.
“She (Virani) cannot claim to be as close and attached to Aruna Shanbaug as King Edward Memorial Hospital staff and nurses,” the bench ruled.
Active euthanasia is a state where a patient is given a lethal injection to put him to sleep, while passive euthanasia involves withdrawing life support systems from a patient.
Shanbaug, who was a nurse at the KEM hospital, has been in a comatose state ever since she was brutally raped by a hospital sweeper 37 years ago.