New Delhi: The Supreme Court today issued notice to states and Union Territories on a plea for legalising passive euthanasia by allowing a person in a vegetative condition to die by withdrawing life support, even the Centre strongly opposed the petition saying it is a form of suicide which cannot be allowed in the country.

A five-judge bench headed by Chief Justice R M Lodha, which agreed to examine the issue, said that states must also be heard as the issue pertains not only to the Constitution, it involves morality, religion and medical science.

The Centre, however, strongly opposed the plea saying it cannot be legalised as it is a form of suicide which is an offence in the country.

It said that if euthanasia is legalised, then it will be misused. Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi submitted that the issue should be debated and decided by the legislature and that it is not a matter to be adjudicated by the court.

"We do not accept passive euthanasia. It is one form of suicide and suicide is an offence," he said, adding, "It is a matter for legislature to decide."

The bench, also comprising justices J S Khehar, J Chelameswar, A K Sikri, and R F Nariman, during the hearing, raised the question on what safeguards should be put in place to prevent the misuse.

It asked the petitioner on what is least painful way to bring life to an end as there has been discussion going on across the world on the matter and there is no unanimous finding.

The bench said that the contention on the issue of misuse of the statute cannot be a ground for not legislating on euthanasia.

It appointed senior lawyer and former Solicitor General T R Andhyarujina as amicus curiae to assist it in the case relating to legalising euthanasia.