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An estimated 1-minute read

Aruna right-to-die case to be heard in SC

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off-switch_by_Spoon-MonkeyAruna Ramachandra Shanbaug's right to live with dignity by not force feeding her comatose body of 36 years has yet again brought into sharp focus the legality and morality of euthanasia after the apex court admitted a plea on merits yesterday (18 December).

Yesterday's Times of India front-page report on the plight of 61-year old Shanbaug had sent droves of readers commenting on the story online.

Shanbaug was a nurse at King Edward Memorial (KEM) Hospital and has been lying in a vegetative state on the bed of the same hospital since 1973 after suffering a brutal sexual assault by a ward boy.

Activist and author Pinki Virani had moved the petition as Shanbaug's "next friend" and urged the court to direct hospital authorities to stop feeding her paralysed body.

Despite viewing it akin to mercy killing, the Supreme Court of India has now relented in favour of the argument presented by the petitioners counsel Shekhar Naphade who said: "Is not keeping the woman in this persistent vegetative state by force feeding violative of her right to live with dignity guaranteed by Article 21 (Right to life) of the Constitution?"

Naphade also highlighted her inhumane and torturous existence in the KEM Hospital and requested the authorities and court to step in and lay guidelines, as her condition is pronounced beyond cure by the doctors.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court bench consisting of Chief Justice of India, K G Balakrishnan, Justices A K Ganguly and B S Chauhan has agreed to examine the issue by seeking response from the center and state Governments, the dean of KEM hospital and the Commissioner of Mumbai Police.

The Supreme Court until now maintains a pro-life stance and had earlier declined pleas of termination of pregnancy of a mentally disabled girl resulting from a rape at a Nari Niketan in Chandigarh as well as a similar plea of a Mumbai couple for termination of a diseased foetus, reported the Times of India.
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