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Pti

New Delhi: The Supreme Court today referred the issue of legalising euthanasia in the country to a five- judge Constitution bench, saying there has been "inconsistent" opinion in its previous verdicts on withdrawing medical support to terminally ill patients.

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam said that it is extremely important to have a clear enunciation of law on this issue and referred the matter to a larger Constitution bench.

The court said that the Constitution bench will go into all aspects of the issue and take a final decision on framing guidelines.

The Bench also comprising justices Ranjan Gogoi and S K Singh passed the order on a PIL to allow a terminally ill person not to continue with artificial medical support.

The Centre had vociferously opposed the plea terming it as "suicide" which could not be allowed in the country.

With today's direction, the apex court's earlier order, which had rejected the plea for active euthanasia, will also be relooked into by the larger bench.

The PIL filed by NGO "Common Cause" had contended that when a medical expert opines that the person afflicted with terminal disease has reached a point of no return, then he should be given the right to refuse being put on life support system as otherwise it would only prolong his agony.

The petition was filed in 2008 when the apex court had issued notices to the Union Ministry of Health and Law and sought their response on the issue.

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