Aruna Shanbaug, in vegetative state for 42 years after being raped in 1973, dies

Mumbai, May 18, 2015

Aruna Shanbaug dies after 42 years in vegetative state
Aruna Shanbaug, a nurse who remained in a vegetative state for nearly 42 years after being brutally raped in1973, died this morning in Mumbai's KEM Hospital after a bout of pneumonia, hospital sources said.
Shanbaug, 67, was put on ventilator support in the intensive care unit of the hospital for more than a week, they said.
She breathed her last at around 9.30 am today, they said. She would have turned 68 in the first week of June.
Shanbaug had been in a semi-comatose condition after the horrific incident of November 23, 1973 in which her assailant, Sohanlal, used a dog chain around her neck to pin her down during the assault, resulting in serious damage to her brain cells.
Her colleagues at the KEM Hospital had been caring for her for the past four decades, meeting her every need and ensuring, among other things, that she did not have even a single bedsore during this period.
On March 7, 2011, the Supreme Court had, in an important ruling, dismissed a petition filed by Ms Pinki Virani, who claimed to be the next friend of Shanbaug, seeking permission for euthanasia since she was in a vegetative state for more than 37 years at that time.
A bench comprising Justices Markendey Katju and Gyansudha Misra  held that active euthanasia is illegal but passive euthanasia is permissible with the permission of the concerned high court in appropriate cases.
The bench in its 110-page judgement held that the real next friend of Shanbaug was the staff of the K E M Hospital, Mumbai, who had een looking after her for decades.
The apex court while permitting passive euthanasia in appropriate cases with the permission of the concerned high court, however, put a rider that the high court will have to set up a medical court before permitting passive euthanasia and it will be the law of the land till Parliament enacts appropriate law on the issue of mercy killing.
The Central Government as well as the KEM Hospital had vehemently opposed the petitioner.

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