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Allow death row convicts option of organ donation: PIL in Supreme Court

The plea moved by a retired High Court judge and two others also urges for directions to the Government so that the Nirbhaya death row convicts are given the option of organ donation.

Meera Emmanuel

A PIL has been filed in the Supreme Court urging for a direction to allow the four death row convicts in the Nirbhaya case the option of donating their organs after their likely execution.

The plea has been moved by retired Bombay High Court judge Michel F Saldanha along with Advocate Dilraj Rohit Sequira and the President of Mangalore chapter of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL).

The petitioners have pointed out that given there is an acute shortage of vital organs in India, not only for donation purposes but also for research. A major reason for the same is the lack of concrete policies regarding organ donation in India, save for it being a voluntary exercise.

It is further submitted that these issues could be redressed with by adopting sound policies on organ donation, at least to the extent of granting death row convicts the option to donate their organs and by laying down a procedure for the retrieval of such organs after their execution. It is pointed out that such a policy “will not result in any prejudice.

Further it is argued that giving death row convicts such an option would also be providing them to make a positive contribution. As stated in the petition,

... the prisoners who have been convicted for death penalty, ought to be granted an opportunity for their organs to be donated after their execution and for their bodies to be used for medical research purposes as desirable by medical and educational institutions. Such an option for death convicts would render them to create a positive impact even after their death, apart from helping a person in need of a vital organ via transplantation.
PIL petitioners

In this backdrop the petition has urged the Supreme Court to consider the following broader issues,

  • Allowing death penalty prisoners to make living donations if they are willing and healthy;

  • Regardless of the cause of death, dead prisoners should be able to donate;

  • Proper approaches with envisaged safeguards to protect the rights of everyone involved;

  • A panel to decide the authenticity of donations made by death penalty convicts.

To this end the petitioners have also prayed that the Supreme Court issue directions for the Government to make amendments to the Prison Rules to provide for a procedure to be following for organ donation after execution of death row convicts.

The petition has been filed by Advocate Kamlendra Mishra and drawn by Advocate Manoj V George and KM Vignesh Ram.

[Read the PIL]

Justice Saldhana vs UOI PILPetition Final (1).pdf
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