news Monday, May 18, 2015 - 05:30

Kochouseph Chittilappilly, the country’s first person to have approached a court seeking legal sanction for the right to have a dignified death, and sparked off a debate on euthanasia, says that he plans to approach the court again. It is the death of Aruna Shanbaug, a former nurse at KEM hospital in Mumbai after being in comatose for 42 years that has triggeredd off this reaction.

Chittilappilly, founder Chairman & Managing Director of V-Guard Industries Ltd, had earlier in 1998 filed a petition to the Sub court of Ernakulam pleading that he should not be administered with artificial means to sustain his life if afflicted by a terminal disease after the age of 70. The petition was then rejected, but Chittilappilly managed to initiate a conversation about euthanasia in the country.

“It has almost been 17 years since my petition to the court was rejected. Ever since, a lot of discussion on the matter has taken place. Considering those factors, I am planning to file the petition again,” Chittilappilly said. He is positive that the open mentality of the judges towards euthanasia will help in being successful this time around.

In his petition which was rejected by the court on the grounds that it is illegal, Chittilappilly states, “If, at or after the age of 70, the plaintiff contracts any terminal disease or meets with an accident which causes fatal injuries or his health deteriorates to such an extent that his life cannot be prolonged without constant medication or keeping him in ventilation or applying artificial means, he may be allowed to die a natural death under ordinary nursing care untrammeled by tubes or wires, constant medication, ventilation or other artificial means”, an excerpt from the petition reads.

As Aruna Shanbaug, who has been in a vegetative state since 1973 breathed her last on Monday morning, Chittilappilly says that Aruna’s death has brought her justice and dignity, even though it took a long 42 years. He further said that sustaining life through artificial means, without letting natural death take its course is against the dignity of a person.  

An influential public figure and a business tycoon in Kerala, he said that people do not discuss the topic of euthanasia in public mainly because of religious aspects that forbids them from even discussing such issues.

Did we fail Aruna Shanbaug? Right to die is part of right to a dignified life

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