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MUMBAI: City gynaecologist Dr Nikhil Datar, who was among the first to notarise a living will, has filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in the high court regarding the poor response from the state government on the issue.
Living will allows citizens to have a say on their last days; patients who don’t want invasive treatments in case of any eventuality can lay down instructions in the living will.
While mentioning the matter to the chief justice in the Bombay high court on Friday, he stated that although the supreme court had laid down the framework for a living will on January 23, the state has not yet created a mechanism for the purpose.
When the doctor notarised his living will in February, he had sent a copy by registered post to the municipal commissioner to act as a custodian of the document. As it was early days yet after the supreme court directive, and there was no local mechanism in place, the doctor had then felt that it would be best to send it to the city commissioner.
Dr Datar, who had moved the supreme court in 2008 to extend the time limit for abortion from 20 to 24 week, had mentioned that the supreme court guidelines need local authorities to nominate a competent authority as a custodian to hold the documents of living executed by citizens.
Despite several attempts, Dr Datar was unavailable for comment. In February, Dr Datar told TOI that his living specified that treatments to artificially prolong dying should be withheld or discontinued if he has an “incurable, irreversible illness” or if he becomes unconscious and there is a high likelihood that he won’t recover.
“Dying has become difficult to some extent due to progress in medical science. However, if I am diagnosed to have a disease that causes severe impairment of physical and mental functions such as dementia, I wouldn’t like to undergo treatment that is meaningless,” he had told TOI. The doctor also had said he wanted palliative medicines to “provide maximum pain relief”.

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