Chennai: Unable to bear the agony of watching his nine year and seven-month-old son suffer elliptic seizure every day, a tailor has approached the Madras high court seeking his mercy killing.
The boy has been under vegetative state since birth. The plea could be first of its kind in the country, after the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court through its order dated March 18 in common cause case held that fundamental right to life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution includes the right to live with dignity till the end and it therefore includes the right to die with dignity.
In the writ petition R. Thirumeni submitted that his son T. Paavendhan has been in vegetative state since birth on September 30, 2008. Paavendhan suffers epileptic seizures up to 20 times a day when controlled by medicines. At times the maximum number of such attacks goes up to 150 in a single day. The petitioner’s counsel N. Kavitha Rameshwar said Thirumeni has been earning a meager amount and managed spend to spend Rs 10,000 per month towards treatment of his son over the years with a fond hope of making him stand on his own legs and to improve his health condition.
However, all the doctors expressed their inability and informed him there was absolutely no scope of recovery in such cases. They informed him that damage to his brain was total. Hence, the petitioner wanted the court to permit him to withdraw all form of food, nutrition and medicine to his son and smoothen his process of dying.
Kavitha said, Paarvendhan was born in Kattumannarkoil, Cuddalore district. As the child did not cry after the birth, he was referred to child neurologists.
On November 6, 2008, it was confirmed that he was suffering from Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE). He was in a state of wakefulness without any awareness about himself or about anything in the environment. Since there is total motor disability he cannot even sit.
He must be fed mashed semisolid food forcibly thorough his mouth. All his bowel and bladder movements are involuntary like any other function of the body.
She said the constant and continuous bawling of the child causes severe disturbance and trauma to the family members and the neighbours.Thirumeni’s two other children face social embarrassment.
There has been no asylum or home of any kind is willing to give shelter or palliative care to the child. She said present case satisfies all the characteristics of persons in Persistent Vegetative State (PVS). The apex court held that in case of a terminally ill persons or persons in PVS, where the physician or the hospital medical board is not in a position to take a decision with respect to withdrawal of treatment, it is open to the parents and family members of the patient to seek the relief.
When the matter came up for hearing before a division bench of Justice N. Kirubakaran and Justice S. Baskaran the bench admitted the plea and directed the state government to suggest a panel of senior doctors to form an independent panel to recommend expert members to the expert committee to be constituted by the court. The expert committee would then examine the child and report to the court. The court then posted the plea to August 23....