An elderly Indian couple has written to the President’s office, seeking permission for “active euthanasia”, where a person is killed, usually by administering an overdose of pain-killers.
The couple, Iravati Lavate, 79, a retired school principal and her husband Narayan Lavate, 86, a former Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation employee, has no major health problems.
They have a roof over their heads and a small but sufficient pension. Their angst is more existential.
"What is the use of living further?" Narayan asks. "We have no purpose. And beyond 75 years of age, you fall prey to various ailments and infirmities."
The couple, who has been living at Laxmibai Chawl in Thakurdwar's Zaobawadi in Mumbai, has no children.
Iravati said to Hindustantimes reporter, “Now, in our old age, we don’t want others to be liable for our condition later.”
Every day is the same, the couple said. “We are tired of living forever like this,” added Narayan.
In India, passive euthanasia, defined as the withholding of medical treatment to hasten a terminally ill patient's death, has been legalised as part of the Supreme Court's Aruna Shanbaug judgment but only after permission is obtained from the High Court concerned.
What the Lavates are proposing is miles ahead of even active euthanasia, which is an intentional act causing the death of a patient experiencing great suffering, reports the Times of India.
Neurologist Dr Roop Gursahani, who is part of a group advocating living wills, said even countries where active euthanasia is legal, the requisite is that the patient must have a terminally ill disease.
The couple’s letter to the President says, “Both the petitioners are in reasonably good health, not afflicted by any serious ailment as on the date of this petition.”
The couple wrote the letter on December 21. The President’s office said it would take time to respond to the letter.
A national discourse on euthanasia started in India in 2011, when the Supreme Court, while hearing the case of a nurse from KEM Hospital, Aruna Shanbaug, who was in a vegetative state for nearly 30 years after being sexually assaulted in the hospital premises, legalised passive euthanasia.
However, she herself couldn’t benefit from the case.
The nurses of KEM, who were caring for her after her family stayed away refused to allow euthanasia.
Shanbaug died in 2015, while on a ventilator for several days after suffering from pneumonia.
There have been applications, including one in 1997 from CA Thomas Master, a Kerala teacher, before Indian courts seeking permission for active euthanasia.
The Kerala high court rejected the teacher’s plea. He subsequently killed himself in April 2004.
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