Four month extension to the suspension on the invalidity of Sections 241(b) and 14, dealing with physician- assisted euthanasia, granted

Canada SC

Supreme Court of Canada: While deliberating upon the question that whether the Court should grant six-month extension to the suspension on the invalidity of Sections 241(b) and 14 of the Criminal Code, R.S.C. 1985, c. C-46, dealing with physician- assisted euthanasia; the 9 Judge Bench of the Court headed by Beverley McLachlin, CJ., unanimously decided to grant four month extension to the suspension on the invalidity of Sections 241(b) and 14. It is to be noted that this Court in its landmark decision in Carter v. Canada, 2015 SCC OnLine Can SC 1, had decriminalized physician- assisted euthanasia. However the Court’s decision was suspended for the period of 12 months from the date of the said decision, in order to give time to the Legislature to draft suitable laws for the same.

The Court observed that suspending the declaration of the constitutional invalidity of a law and the extension of such suspension is an extraordinary step and a problematic one too, as it gives an effect of retaining the invalid law, which in turn would breach the constitutional rights of the common Canadian citizens.

However faced with the question that whether individual exemptions can be granted during an extension of a suspension of a declaration of invalidity; and should the Province of Quebec should also be granted exemption on the grounds of clarifying the legal position in Quebec given its law governing end-of-life assistance, the “Act respecting end-of-life care”, CQLR, c. S-32.0001, the Court with a ration of 5:4 answered the questions in affirmative thereby granting exemption to those who wish to seek physician- assisted euthanasia in accordance with the criteria set out Carter case. However Beverley McLachlin, CJ., Cromwell, Moldaver and Brown JJ., dissented on the point of granting exemptions. [Lee Carter v. Canada, 2016 SCC 4, decided on 15.01.2016]

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