Krishna Iyer proposed legalisation of euthanasia

Eminent jurist Justice V R Krishna Iyer, who headed the commission set up by the LDF Government, had suggested legalising euthanasia in cases where "death is the only salvation".

Justice Iyer had said euthanasia should be legalised by abolishing the clause that makes attempt to suicide an offence.

The proposal, drawn up in the form of a draft bill, however, is pending with government for the last two years.

"Mercy killing could be considered in cases where death is the only salvation and preservation of life would be medically impossible and visited with insufferable physical or mental pain," the proposal said.

It suggested that mercy killing should be carried out with the written sanction of three state-recognised doctors certifying that the patient under consideration is a fit case for euthanasia.

The draft proposal suggests that legal sanction could be accorded to euthanasia by abolishing section 309 of IPC, which holds attempt to commit suicide as an offence.

There should at the same time be a safeguard clause that no euthanasia shall be legal or be considered less than homicide, if it takes place without the written sanction of three doctors recognised by the state certifying in writing that the case of the patient is a fit case for euthanasia.

Justice Iyer noted the IPC of "Victorian vintage" was drafted and enacted by "McCauley, a great jurist of fossil vision, which today has ceased to be humanities spiritual and temporal norm. Necessarily, law must change when social philosophy changes. It is in this context two basic penal mutations have become necessary."

The Supreme Court had on Monday dismissed a plea for mercy killing on behalf of a 60-year-old nurse Aruna Ramachandra Shanbaug, living in a vegetative state for the last 37 years in a Mumbai hospital after a brutal sexual assault.

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