The legal experts today welcomed the Supreme Court's landmark decision recognising a terminally-ill patient's right to execute a "living will" to refuse medical treatment, saying the verdict has brought clarity for doctors, patients and their relatives on what is permitted and what is not.
Datar, a senior advocate, said the judgement "has brought in a lot of clarity and certainty, because the medical profession was not sure about what to do. At least now it is a clear scene for doctors, patients and insurance companies who will have clarity on what is permitted and what is not."
The lawyer said the "concept of dying with dignity has been enshrined in the Constitution" and added that the judgement will "definitely help" when the continuation of life becomes "totally meaningless" and "living itself becomes an undignified existence with no chance of recovery or survival".
Gonsalves, another senior advocate, termed the verdict as "extra ordinary and long overdue".
"It makes it very clear that now doctors in case of terminally-ill people can act freely.(Before the verdict) they (doctors) were under some kind of threat. You never know when someone will file case against them," he said.
"Now people who have relatives who are terminally ill and doctors, the law has cleared the doubts for them. Now everybody knows where they stand. Now everybody knows the procedure for terminating life. There are checks and balances," Gonsalves said.
"In India, you must guard against people terminating the life of another person for properties and other things. So the judgment takes care of that as well. Even if the legislation doesn't come, the judgement is there," he said.
Bhushan said that the apex court verdict "cleared the air on passive euthanasia and living will".
He said that the court has held that every person has the right to refuse treatment.
"The doctors and the next of kin (of relatives) must respect it. If he (patient) has left a 'living will' that he mustn't be kept on life support, it must be followed. The doctors and the kin can decide for unconscious patients," he said.
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