Mumbai: Mumbai's KEM Hospital erupted with joy on Monday as the Supreme Court rejected a petition seeking the mercy killing of Aruna Shanbaug, in coma for the last 37 years after a brutal sexual assault by a hospital sweeper. The nursing staff distributed sweets and reiterating that they were happy to take care of her.

Her colleagues, the nursing staff who look after Aruna with dedication since she lapsed into coma after being raped by a wardboy on November 27, 1973, cut a cake to celebrate what they termed the ‘rebirth’ of the patient.

"It is the greatest gift that the Supreme Court has given to us a day prior to International Women's Day," Kalpana Limaye, a nurse said. "Aruna should live. She has all the rights to live," added another nurse.

"We have to tend to her just like a small child at home. She only keeps aging like any of us, does not create any problems for us. We take turns looking after her and we love to care for her. How can anybody think of taking her life?" asked a senior nurse soon after the ruling.

Hospital staffers criticised the petitioner, Pinki Virani, an author and journalist, and alleged she was only interested in "making money" out of Aruna's plight.

"We all nurses are ready to contribute one rupee for a fund to aid Pinki, we hope it will make her happy," a senior nurse told mediapersons sarcastically.

Hailing from Haldipur town of Shimoga in Karnataka, Aruna was a junior nurse, planning to get married to a medico in the hospital when her career and dreams were shattered by the attacker, Sohanlal Bhartha Valmiki, working as a wardboy in the same hospital.

(Agencies)