India Insight

The Aruna Shanbaug case: SC rejects plea

SPAIN/UPDATE: The Supreme Court in its judgement on Monday rejected the euthanasia plea of Aruna Shanbaug, who has been lying in a vegetative state for 37 years following a sexual assault on her.

Euthanasia in various forms is legal in some countries with safeguards, but has been criticised.

There are instances when patients are mistaken to be in a vegetative state though they are conscious of their surroundings but unable to draw attention to their condition. This is described as the Locked-in Syndrome.

But a misdiagnosis cannot be reversed once life support is withdrawn and the patient is no more.

In India, there are also concerns that legalised euthanasia can be misused.

In its judgement, the Supreme Court rejected a plea to stop force-feeding Aruna Shanbaug. But it also said that doctors and nurses could petition to withdraw life support under special circumstances, in a sense allowing “passive euthanasia“.

Peddling reforms for street vendors?

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has taken a step towards unshackling the poorest of entrepreneurs — the street vendors.

In a letter to chief ministers, this week, Singh called for a “new deal” for urban street vendors and implementation of the National Policy on Urban Street Vendors, 2009 — which would enable vendors to ply their trade without harassment.

These include hawkers, sidewalk traders or even the people selling clothes or utensils at the weekly market.