ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846
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Is the 'Next Friend' the Best Friend?

The Supreme Court's ruling in the Aruna Shanbaug euthanasia case seems to be solely based on the views of the nursing staff of the Mumbai hospital who have been looking after her. It totally ignores the patient's interests and turns on the legal concept of "next friend". This concept is in the context of a person who is unable to maintain a suit on her own behalf due to disability and is akin to a "guardian" legally representing a "minor". The Court considered the nursing staff to be Shanbaug's "next friend". The total denial of recognition of the right to autonomy and self-determination of a person incompetent to consent, and the usurpation by guardians or the State of determining the best interests of the patient is a hazardous course of action.

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