SC DIRECTED TO APPROACH NHRC IN MATTERS OF CREMATION OF COVID DEAth

On 28 June 2021, the Hon’ble Supreme Court directed the petitioners [NGO] in a plea seekingdirections for framing of the policy to protect the rights of the people who died of covid, toapproach the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).

In a plea presented before the Hon’ble Supreme Court, the court with respect to the floating dead bodies, which were found in theriver Ganga directed the NHRC to approach. The pleamentioned that the Centre should and needs to advise all states and union territories to frame guidelines prescribing rates for cremation of people who died due to the coronavirus. In addition, it also stated to frame such guidelines for ambulance services and if there is any non-compliance there will be penal actions be taken. Such should be done at the earliest to avoid the hardest situation. The present plea has been filed by Advocate Jose Abraham and drawn by Advocates Robin Raju, BlessanMathews and Deepa Joseph on behalf of the NGO.The petition depressingly stated the horrifying situation where the people put the dead bodies of their own family members, friends and beloved ones in the rivers like Ganga and others because they don’t have money for rituals after death. It has been going on, where exorbitant amounts are asked by the family of the dead for their cremation, ambulance services, therefore they decided to throw the bodies.The petitioner informed that no actions were taken or acknowledged by the authorities to control the situation,referring to the earlier order passed by the Delhi High Court, when a representation was made on 11 May, to all 4 Municipal Corporations.It was also said that when NHRC issued an advisory for upholding the dignity and protecting the rights of the dead, the plea mentioned that to tackle such an issue, there were no cogent actions taken by the authority. The petitioners further stated “There is a dire need to enact specificlegislation that protects the rights of the dead, and there is also a need for issuance of guidelinesto all states and UTs to prescribe rates for cremations and ambulance services along with penalactions for non-compliance at the earliest”.While listening to the matter on Monday, the SC refused to entertain the petition seeking for framing of such policy. The Bench of Justice Nageswara Rao and Justice Hemant Gupta passed a judgement. The Bench listening to the matter and taking the seriousness of the problem of covid death cremation and other services, directed the petitioners to approach NHRC.The order referring to the petitioner’s plea to Delhi HC stated that, “You have referred to some recommendations of NHRC and NHRC was asked to respond.

You go to the NHRC. How many forums will you approach? You have already approached the High Court, the High Court gave a direction, NHRC has interfered”. Therefore, the plea was rejected.

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