J. Venkatesan

After she was strangled, nurse has been in vegetative state

No possibility of improvement in Aruna’s condition

Mashed food is being given to keep her alive

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued notice to the Centre, the Maharashtra government and a private hospital in Mumbai on a writ petition, filed by a patient lying in bed for 36 years in a vegetative state, for mercy killing by stopping mashed food.

The petition was filed by Aruna Ramachandra Shanbaug through her friend Pinki Virani of Mumbai.

According to her, Aruna has been in a pathetic state in the hospital since November 1973. When she was working as staff nurse, she was assaulted and strangled by a sweeper with a dog chain to immobilise her. Her brain cells got damaged and since then she has been in a vegetative state. Her bones became brittle, wrists were twisted inwards, and fingers bent at the joints and fisted into the palms. Her teeth have decayed. Mashed food is being administered through the throat to keep her alive.

There is no possibility of any improvement in Aruna’s condition, and her continued vegetative existence is a violation of her right to live in dignity, says the petition.

Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justices A.K. Ganguly and B.S. Chauhan were on the Bench which issued the notice.