The Supreme Court has upheld passive euthanasia and the right to give
advance medical directives or ‘Living Wills’ to smoothen the dying process
as part of the fundamental right to live with dignity.
Passive euthanasia is the act of withdrawing or withholding medical
support to a dying patient who has no hope for revival or cure.
A five-judge Constitution Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Dipak
Misra, in four separate and concurring opinions, ruled that the fundamental
right to life and dignity under Article 21 of the Constitution includes the
“right to die with dignity.”
Dignity is lost if a man is allowed or forced to undergo pain and
suffering because of “unwarranted medical support.”
“The right of a dying man to die with dignity when life is ebbing out
and in the case of a terminally ill patient or a person in permanent
vegetative state, where there is no hope of recovery, accelerating the
process of death for reducing the period of suffering constitutes a right to
live with dignity,” Chief Justice Misra held in his opinion, shared by
Justice A.M. Khanwilkar.
In his separate opinion, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud observed that “to
deprive a person of dignity at the end of life is to deprive him of a
“Meaningful existence” includes a person’s right to self-determination
and autonomy to decide his medical treatment, the court held.
Justice Ashok Bhushan agreed that right to a dignified life includes a
“dignified procedure of death.”
Justice A.K. Sikri, in his separate opinion, said though religion,
morality, philosophy, law and society have conflicting opinions about
whether right to life includes the right to die, they all agree that a
person should die with dignity.
The court described the exact stage at which suffering robs a dying
person of his dignity.
Justice Chandrachud said modern medical science should balance its quest
to prolong life with the task of ensuring “quality of life.”
One is meaningless without the other, he added.
The court distinguished passive euthanasia from suicide and active
It called passive euthanasia as a “mere acceleration of the inevitable
Active euthanasia, the court concluded, is unlawful. Suicide involves
“overt acts” which culminates in an unnatural death. A valid ‘Living Will’
facilitates passive euthanasia.
A failure to legally recognise an advance medical directive
inconveniences the “right to smoothen the dying process”, the court
In cases of terminally ill or permanently vegetative state patients,
where there is no hope for revival, priority should be given to the Living
Wills and the right of self-determination.
The court referred to how societal pressure and fear of criminal
liability by relatives and medical doctors had led to suffering and
No business in week long parliament
Protests from all parties except the ruling BJP and its ally, the Akali
Dal, washed out proceedings in both Houses of Parliament for the entire
The Lok Sabha was adjourned for the day soon after it met in the
In the Rajya Sabha too, proceedings were disrupted with Opposition
members storming the well, following which Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu
announced the adjournment.
This was the first week of the second leg of the Budget session, with
the Finance Bill 2018 and Demands for Grants slated for approval.
Both the ruling and Opposition parties from Andhra Pradesh — the Telugu
Desam Party and YSR (Congress) — have kept up their protests since the start
of the Budget session for a Special Category Status for the State.
They were joined this week by Tamil Nadu’s AIADMK and DMK, demanding
that the Cauvery Management Board be formed immediately as per the Supreme
The Congress and the Trinamool Congress have been up in arms against the
government over the Rs. 12,700 crore fraud at the Punjab National Bank (PNB),
the country’s second largest public sector bank.
The Shiv Sena also raised its voice, demanding classical language status
The well of the Lok Sabha was a melee of placards held up by members
from the AIADMK, the TDP and the YSR Congress.
Among them was the TDP’s Ashok Gajapathi Raju, who resigned as Civil
Like other members of the TDP, he too had draped a yellow stole. The
House was adjourned for the day at noon.
Before the protests began in the Rajya Sabha, Vice-President Venkaiah
Naidu announced the nomination of JD(U) member Kahkashan Parveen to the
panel of presiding officers to conduct the proceedings of the House.
The move came a day after the International Women’s Day, when the
members had expressed concern that there was no woman member on the panel.
Mr. Naidu said that in deference to the wishes of members, he was
nominating Ms. Parveen to the panel with effect from April 3.
The JD(U) member will replace Basawaraj Patil, whose term ends on April
2, Mr. Naidu said, adding that Ms. Parveen had been a Mayor and also
chairperson of the Bihar Mahila Aayog.
According to the rules of the Rajya Sabha, the Chairman nominates from
amongst the members up to six Vice-Chairmen or presiding officers, who chair
the proceedings in the absence of the Chairman and the Deputy Chairman.
Haryana and Himachal governments introduce budget
The Haryana government presented a Rs. 1,15,198.29 crore budget for
financial year 2018-19, up by 12.6% against budget estimates of 2017-18,
with no fresh taxes being proposed.
In Shimla, presenting his first ever budget in the State Assembly,
Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur — who also holds the Finance
portfolio — also imposed no new taxes and introduced 28 new schemes and
projects mainly for the farmers and poorer sections of society.
Finance Minister Capt. Abhimanyu, while presenting the budget proposals
in the Haryana Assembly, said the share of budgetary allocations to
different sectors in fiscal 2018-19 has been increased in most cases.
About 28.7% of the total budget has been allocated to economic services
such as agriculture, irrigation and rural electrification, power, transport,
civil aviation, roads and bridges, rural development and panchayats, etc.;
33.89% has been allocated for social services such as education, social
welfare, health and family welfare, public health engineering, etc. General
services get a 14.4% share while 23.01% has been allocated for repayment of
He also told the House that in 2017-18, as per advance estimates, the
GSDP of Haryana was expected to grow at 8% as against 6.6% at the national
level, making it one of the highest in the country.
In his speech of nearly three hours, Mr. Thakur laid major emphasis on
the agrarian sector and on increasing the contribution of the primary sector
to the State’s GDP since the majority of the population is still engaged in
agriculture and animal husbandry.
The Chief Minister said his main endeavour would be to double farmers’
income by 2022.
Mr. Thakur said around 40% of the budget would be used on development,
while around 41% would go towards salaries and pensions and 19% for interest
and loan repayments by the State.
The State is reeling under a heavy debt of around Rs. 47,000 crore — or
a per capita debt of around Rs. 62,000 — that it had inherited from the
previous Virbhadra Singh government, said the Chief Minister.
As per the budget estimates, the State against the expenditure of every
hundred rupees will have 73.36% as total receipts including transfers from
the Central government.
The gap of 26.64% will again be met by borrowings.
With limited sources of income and maximum dependency on central grants,
Mr. Thakur said his government will endeavour to generate its own resources
through forestry, mining, tourism and hydroelectricity.
It is Doctor’s call
Guidelines prescribed by the Supreme Court while upholding passive
euthanasia and ‘Living Will’, place a huge burden on the treating physician
For one, the responsibility is on the treating doctor to ascertain the
“genuineness and authenticity” of a Living Will of a terminally ill patient
from the Judicial Magistrate in whose custody the document is kept.
Once satisfied that there is no cure, the doctor should give due weight
to the instructions left by the patient in his or her Living Will.
After the doctor decides that the Living Will needs to be “acted upon”,
it is his responsibility to convey to the guardian or close relative the
medical condition, the availability of care and consequences of alternative
forms of treatment and the consequences of remaining untreated.
The physician or the hospital concerned has to then constitute a Medical
Board consisting of the head of the treating department and at least three
experts from the fields of general medicine, cardiology, neurology,
nephrology, psychiatry or oncology with experience in critical care and a
standing of 20 years in the profession.
They will have to visit the patient and release a preliminary opinion on
whether or not to withdraw treatment as per the Living Will.
In case the Medical Board decides not to follow a Living Will, it can
apply to the District Collector concerned.
In case it supports the Living Will, the doctor or the hospital has to
“forthwith” inform the District Collector, who will also form a Medical
Board with the Chief District Medical Officer as Chairman for endorsement of
U.S. President Donald Trump hailed “great progress” in attempts to
resolve the Korean nuclear crisis after the White House said the President
accepted an invitation from North Korean leader Kim Jong-un for a face to
Earlier a visiting South Korean delegation conveyed the invitation for
talks from Pyongyang to the Trump administration.
South Korean National Security Adviser Chung Eui-Yong told Mr. Trump
that Mr. Kim was committed to denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.
He is no longer objected to joint military exercises by South Korea and
the U.S. North Korea will also refrain from further nuclear and missile
testing, Mr. Chung told reporters at the White House.
He said the President agreed to meet Mr. Kim in May.
The White House portrayed the breakthrough as a success of Mr. Trump’s
policy of maximum pressure on North Korea, declaring that there will be no
let up in pressure and denuclearisaiton remained the objective of the U.S.
Mr. Trump had called Mr. Kim “Little Rocket Man” and Mr. Kim had called
the American President a “dotard” and a “lunatic” in the recent past.
American war preparations have also progressed simultaneously, bringing
to the forefront the huge risks associated with a pre-emptive strike on
A significant section of American strategic thinkers have already
concluded that America must learn to live with a nuclear North Korea.
The White House official said the terms of a settlement is not on the
agenda right now, but as and when that stage is reached, inspection and
verification of North Korea’s nuclear programme would be part of it.
North Korea’s willingness to ignore the U.S-South Korean joint military
exercises is a climbdown for Pyongyang, and encouraging for Washington.
China has been proposing ‘freeze for freeze,’ i.e discontinuation of
tests by the North and exercises by the South and the U.S., as an initial
step towards a diplomatic breakthrough.
Pyongyang’s apparent willingness to act outside of this framework might
allow Mr. Trump to work independently of China on the crisis.
Joint exercises are now due, thought dates have not been announced. China
welcomed the decision for talks, saying the nuclear issue is moving in the
KYC norms slumps e-remittances, business
The volumes of remittances and e-commerce transactions made using
prepaid payment instruments (PPIs), including electronic wallets, have
slumped sharply following the expiry of the February 28 deadline.
It is for ensuring all PPI accounts are in compliance with know your
customer (KYC) norms, payments industry officials said.
According to industry estimates, the volume of remittances has shrunk
70%, while e-commerce transactions have halved since March 1.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had directed PPI issuers to ensure all
accounts were KYC compliant “on or before February 28, 2018” and asserted
last month that it would provide no further extension.
While remittances — where account holders transferred funds from an
e-wallet to a bank account or to another wallet — had earlier averaged about
Rs. 10,000 crore a month, e-commence transactions, which entailed the use of
wallets to pay merchants, had been in the range of Rs. 2,000 crore a month.
Transactions using e-wallets had fallen a precipitous 80% since February
28, according to e-wallet provider Payworld.
“We were doing 50,000 money remittance transactions per day, which has
come down to 10,000 since March 1,” Praveen Dhabhai, COO of Payworld said.
“And that is generally what the industry is facing, an 80% fall in the
number of transactions since the e-KYC deadline.”
“We have a digital wallet license from the RBI and our target market is
the domestic migrant labourers or people like taxi drivers, or the people
who are not tech savvy enough to do the transactions themselves,” Mr.
However, these retailers had been facing problems since March 1 due to
poor infrastructure or poor knowledge, he said.
For an e-KYC, it is enough to furnish any one of the four officially
valid documents — passport, voter identity card, driving licence, or NREGA
job card — in case the account holder does not have an Aadhaar number.
For full KYC, complete authentication and verification of residence and
identity proof are required.
In October, RBI had directed all PPI issuers to make all accounts fully
KYC compliant by December 31. The deadline was later extended to February
RBI had issued licences to 55 non-bank mobile wallets while 50 banks
have their own wallets.
“It’s an interesting and challenging time,” said Naveen Surya, chairman,
Payments Council of India.
Nearing PAN deadline to link to Aadhaar, only 50% done till now
With less than a month to go for the expiry of deadline for linking
Aadhaar numbers to PAN, the government said that it had so far been able to
link only about 50% of the PAN cards issued to Aadhaar numbers.
“As per the latest available information as on March 5... the number of
Aadhaar cards linked with PAN is 16,65,82,421,” Minister of State for
Finance Shiv Pratap Shukla informed the Lok Sabha.
“Further, as on March 2... 8,779.65 lakh current accounts and savings
accounts have been linked with Aadhaar.”
An August 2017 answer in the Lok Sabha shows that 32,68,25,653 PAN cards
have been issued in the country as of that month.
This means that, with about 20 days to go for the deadline to link PAN
with Aadhaar, only about half of the PAN cards issued so far have been
According to another answer in the Lok Sabha, the Finance Ministry said
that as of April 2017, there were 92,45,06,506 savings and current accounts
in public sector banks (PSBs) although there is no ready data on the number
of accounts in private sector banks.
However, given that private sector banks have about 20% market share in
India, the actual proportion of accounts linked across the banking sector is
likely to be less.
“The economy has just about come out of the impact of vast structural
jerks of demonetisation and the Goods and Services Tax and is not ready for
another challenge by way of any bank account becoming inoperative after
March 31,” Assocham secretary general D.S. Rawat said in a statement.
“As of now, even those having submitted Aadhaar details are getting KYC
reminders. There is a lot of confusion which may lead to further problems as
we approach the deadline.”