Mumbai: An octogenarian man, who has sought the President’s permission for active euthanasia or “assisted suicide”, said today that the Supreme Court ruling on the ‘living will’ of terminally-ill patients was “disheartening” as it deals only with passive euthanasia.
Narayan Lavate, 87, said the time has come for the government to see elderly people with a different perspective.
He said the apex court ruling was “disheartening” as it did not deal with the issue of active euthanasia or “assisted suicide” for which he has been campaigning.
“What the Supreme Court has ruled today is for those who are in a persistent vegetative state or dependent on the medical support system.
“It’s about passive euthanasia. I have been fighting for active euthanasia. I would have been more than happy if the Supreme Court had given the same stand on active euthanasia too,” Lavate said, reacting to the landmark verdict.
Lavate and his wife Iravati, 78, had written a letter to President Ram Nath Kovind in December, seeking permission to end their lives through a physician-assisted death as they felt that they were of no use to the society or themselves.
“Even now, the court or the government or even president can consider our case individually and allow us to end our lives peacefully and with dignity,” he said.
The government should give special rights to those who are above 75 years of age to donate their organs and decide on ending their lives with dignity, Lavate said.
Asked about their next move, Lavate said, “We have already written a letter to the President. We are still hopeful of getting a positive response from his office.
“If his (president) office does not respond by 31 March, we will decide our next course of action.”
In the letter to Kovind, the Lavates, who have no children and say their siblings are also no more, were of the view that keeping them alive against their wishes was a “waste of the country’s scarce resources as well as theirs”.
If the Constitution gives the right to live, it should also give the right to die in a dignified way, argued the couple, residents of Thakurdwar area in South Mumbai.
While Lavate once worked as a supervisor at the Maharashtra State Transport Corporation, his wife retired as a school principal.
In its judgement, the SC recognised that a terminally-ill patient or a person in the persistent vegetative state can execute an “advance medical directive” or a “living will” to refuse medical treatment, saying the right to live with dignity also includes “smoothening” the process of dying.
It laid down principles relating to the procedure for execution of advance directive or ‘living will’ and spelt out guidelines and safeguards to give effect to passive euthanasia in both circumstances, that is where there are advance directives and where there are none.