T Paavendhan, a 9-year-old boy, is in persistent vegetative state (PVS) since birth diagnosed with the condition of hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE)
While considering a plea of a man seeking passive euthanasia to his son in the persistent vegetative state (PVS) since birth, the Madras High Court has constituted a three-member committee of doctors to nominate three expert doctors according to the needs of the patient in this case.
The division bench of Justice N Kirubakaran and Justice S Baskaran were considering a plea of father of T Paavendhan, a 9-year-old boy, who is in persistent vegetative state (PVS) since birth diagnosed with the condition of hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE).
Earlier, the bench had directed the petitioner, Assistant Solicitor General and Government Pleader to suggest doctors for forming an independent committee to depute three doctors from the fields of general medicine, cardiology, neurology, nephrology and psychiatry with experience in critical care and with overall standing in the medical profession for at least 20 years.
From the list submitted before it, the bench constituted a committee consisting of Dr. J. Reginald, Senior Neurosurgeon, Dr. P Ramachandran, Professor of Pediatrics (Retired) and Dr. Uma Maheswari Ramesh, Chief Medical Officer (SAG). The court directed the committee to hold its meeting in the premises of Omandurar Government Multi-Super Speciality Hospital, Omandurar Estate, Chennai, to nominate the three doctors according to the needs/best interests of the patient.
The Committee shall hold deliberations and file a report as to the nomination of the three doctors before this Court within a period of two weeks, the bench said.
In Common Cause (a registered society) vs. Union of India, the Supreme Court had held that passive euthanasia and a living will is legally valid. The constitution bench also held that the right to live with dignity also includes the smoothening of the process of dying in case of a terminally-ill patient or a person in persistent vegetative state with no hope of recovery.
It had issued various directives in this regard, including the procedure to be adopted by the high court while dealing with plea seeking passive euthanasia. It had said: “In such a situation, the nominee of the patient or the family member or the treating doctor or the hospital staff can seek permission from the High Court to withdraw life support by way of writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution in which case the Chief Justice of the said High Court shall constitute a Division Bench which shall decide to grant approval or not. The High Court may constitute an independent Committee to depute three doctors from the fields of general medicine, cardiology, neurology, nephrology, psychiatry or oncology with experience in critical care and with overall standing in the medical profession of at least twenty years after consulting the competent medical practitioners. It shall also afford an opportunity to the State counsel. The High Court in such cases shall render its decision at the earliest since such matters cannot brook any delay. Needless to say, the High Court shall ascribe reasons specifically keeping in mind the principle of "best interests of the patient."