The Delhi High Court on Thursday allowed a woman, who had sought to prevent her friend from traveling to Switzerland to undergo euthanasia due to his long-term debilitating illness, to withdraw her petition.
Judge Yashwant Varma, before whom the motion was heard, allowed the 49-year-old to withdraw her plea and also ordered the court registry to remove the details of the friend from court records.
“I would like to withdraw this petition because I have learned that [my friend] is deeply traumatized after hearing about it. I fear the very purpose of filing this writ will be wasted if I continue,” the solicitor, representing the woman, told the High Court as soon as the case went to trial.
In her petition filed last week, through Attorney Subash Chandran KR, the woman, a resident of Bangalore, asked the Center not to grant “permission to emigrate” to her close friend, late 40s and diagnosed with myalgic encephalomyelitis, to travel for physician-assisted suicide.
The woman, in her petition, requested the constitution of a medical commission to examine the state of health of her friend and also to provide the necessary medical assistance in view of her particular state of health.
The plea said the most common symptom of myalgic encephalomyelitis is extreme fatigue and it can affect anyone, including children. “Studies indicate that he is more common in women and tends to develop in his mid-40s. His symptoms began in 2014 and his condition has deteriorated over the past eight years. He is now completely bedridden and can barely take a few steps inside the house,” the woman said in her plea.
Finally, this year, the man decided to have himself euthanized through Dignitas, an organization in Zurich, Switzerland, which offers physician-assisted suicide. The woman said her friend traveled to Zurich for the first round of psychological assessment in June 2022.
She said the application was accepted by Dignitas and the first review was approved. He now expects the final decision by the end of August 2022.
The woman emphasized that there was no financial constraint to provide her friend with better treatment in India or abroad. “But he is now adamant about his decision to opt for euthanasia, which is affecting the lives of his elderly parents miserably,” she insisted. She said there is still a glimmer of hope that her condition will improve.
2 types of euthanasia
Active euthanasia involves the affirmative action of using lethal substances or forces to cause the intentional death of a person by direct intervention, for example, a lethal injection given to a person with terminal cancer who is in terrible agony.
Passive euthanasia, on the other hand, involves the withdrawal of life-sustaining measures or the suspension of medical treatment for the continuation of life, for example, the suspension of antibiotics in the case of a patient whose death is likely to occur due to non-administration of said antibiotics or removal of the heart-lung machine from a patient in a coma.
In India, active euthanasia is illegal and a crime under Section 302 (murder) or Section 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) of the Indian Penal Code. Physician-assisted suicide is a crime under IPC Section 306 (incitement to suicide).
In a historic judgment, the Supreme Court on March 9, 2018 authorized passive euthanasia in India, recalling that the right to die with dignity was a fundamental right.