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State Govt misses deadline on SC�s mercy killing opinion

By SANJOY RAY
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GUWAHATI, Sept 21 � The Assam government has missed the Supreme Court deadline that had sought its response on the validity of �mercy killing� or euthanasia.

The apex court had set a deadline of eight weeks (two months) on July 16 asking all the States and Union Territories to respond on the viability and validity of euthanasia (mercy killing), to which the State�s Home Department has failed to respond till date.

A source in the Supreme Court said that the Assam Government�s view on the issue is still awaited.

The Home Department, it has been reliably learnt, is yet to come to any conclusion on the issue that is being debated for nearly a decade now.

Sources at Dispur said that the Home Department is trying to form an opinion by discussing the controversial issue with the Political and the Law Departments, but nothing substantial has come up as yet.

�We are yet to form an opinion,� a senior State government official told this reporter.

The Supreme Court had called for a debate (opinions) while hearing a petition filed by lawyers of Common Cause, an NGO which favours legalisation of mercy killing.

The North-eastern States have witnessed pleas of allowing mercy killing in the past. There were instances when families, unable to bear the cost of treatment, had asked for mercy killing.

There has been divided opinion on both passive and active euthanasia ever since the issue started to be discussed at the public forum.

While many favouring legalisation of mercy killing are also of the opinion that the emerging concept of �living will� be given a go-ahead, the Centre, however, had disagreed to it.

The issue concerns the rights of a terminally-ill person after doctors examining him or her rule out chances of survival.

While active euthanasia would involve a doctor injecting a lethal medicine to trigger a cardiac arrest, in passive euthanasia, however, the doctor with the consent of relatives, withdraws the artificial life support.

Those vouching for legalising euthanasia question as to why a person in sound mind should not be given the right to execute a �living will� stating that if ever he/she slips into a vegetative state with no chance of recovery, doctors should not keep him alive with the help of machines.

�If after all medical interventions fail and the process of death has commenced, why should the patient not be given the right to die,� those favouring legalisation of mercy killing argued.

There has, however, been counter-justification asking �who decides that the process of death has begun. What if scientists come out with cure for the disease after the death?�

It is also being counter-argued that euthanasia will also fall in the ambit of suicide, which is an offence.

In view of the debate, the apex court had sought opinions of all the States and UTs.

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State Govt misses deadline on SC�s mercy killing opinion

GUWAHATI, Sept 21 � The Assam government has missed the Supreme Court deadline that had sought its response on the validity of �mercy killing� or euthanasia.

The apex court had set a deadline of eight weeks (two months) on July 16 asking all the States and Union Territories to respond on the viability and validity of euthanasia (mercy killing), to which the State�s Home Department has failed to respond till date.

A source in the Supreme Court said that the Assam Government�s view on the issue is still awaited.

The Home Department, it has been reliably learnt, is yet to come to any conclusion on the issue that is being debated for nearly a decade now.

Sources at Dispur said that the Home Department is trying to form an opinion by discussing the controversial issue with the Political and the Law Departments, but nothing substantial has come up as yet.

�We are yet to form an opinion,� a senior State government official told this reporter.

The Supreme Court had called for a debate (opinions) while hearing a petition filed by lawyers of Common Cause, an NGO which favours legalisation of mercy killing.

The North-eastern States have witnessed pleas of allowing mercy killing in the past. There were instances when families, unable to bear the cost of treatment, had asked for mercy killing.

There has been divided opinion on both passive and active euthanasia ever since the issue started to be discussed at the public forum.

While many favouring legalisation of mercy killing are also of the opinion that the emerging concept of �living will� be given a go-ahead, the Centre, however, had disagreed to it.

The issue concerns the rights of a terminally-ill person after doctors examining him or her rule out chances of survival.

While active euthanasia would involve a doctor injecting a lethal medicine to trigger a cardiac arrest, in passive euthanasia, however, the doctor with the consent of relatives, withdraws the artificial life support.

Those vouching for legalising euthanasia question as to why a person in sound mind should not be given the right to execute a �living will� stating that if ever he/she slips into a vegetative state with no chance of recovery, doctors should not keep him alive with the help of machines.

�If after all medical interventions fail and the process of death has commenced, why should the patient not be given the right to die,� those favouring legalisation of mercy killing argued.

There has, however, been counter-justification asking �who decides that the process of death has begun. What if scientists come out with cure for the disease after the death?�

It is also being counter-argued that euthanasia will also fall in the ambit of suicide, which is an offence.

In view of the debate, the apex court had sought opinions of all the States and UTs.