SC strikes off magistrate's approval condition from 'living will' process

SC strikes off magistrate's approval condition from 'living will' process
Representational Pic

New Delhi, Jan 24: The Supreme Court on Tuesday removed the condition, mandating a magistrate's approval for withdrawal or withholding of life support to a terminally ill person.

A five-judge constitution bench, headed by Justice K.M. Joseph, said now the document will be signed by the executor of the living will. Two attesting witnesses, preferably independent, should be there when the document is signed and attested before a notary or gazetted officer, it added.

The bench also agreed to take on board a suggestion that the executor should hand over a copy of the advance directive to the family physician, if there is any.

The apex court introduced these changes in order to make the guidelines on "living will", which is an advance medical directive on end-of-life treatment, more workable.

The bench -- also comprising Justices Ajay Rastogi, Aniruddha Bose, Hrishikesh Roy, and C.T. Ravikumar -- said that the notary and the witnesses should record their satisfaction that the document has been executed voluntarily and there was no coercion involved.

The bench also agreed to a recommendation that the treating physician when learns about the advance directive, should then determine the authenticity of the document.

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