The Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court on Friday directed the Uttar Pradesh government to sensitize and counsel the officers and employees involved in cremation of bodies so that they strictly follow the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for the same [Suo-Moto In re: Right To Decent And Dignified Last Rites/Cremation v State].
A bench of Justices Jaspreet Singh and Ranjan Roy said that adherence to SOP should not be an empty formality but should be done in a manner so as to achieve the object rather than to defeat it.
"The observance and adherence to the scheme/SOP should not be an eye-wash nor an empty formality. The letter and spirit of the scheme/SOP is paramount as it touches upon valuable constitutional and fundamental rights as already referred hereinabove, therefore, the entire exercise should be conducted in a solemn manner with due respect to such rights," observed the bench.
Right to a decent burial has been held to be commensurate with the dignity of the individual and this has been reiterated as a recognized facet of right to life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, asserted the bench.
"Even a dead person has the right of treatment of his body with respect and dignity which he would have deserved had he been alive, subject to his tradition, culture and religion which he professed. These rights are not only for the deceased but, his family members also have a right to perform last rites as per religious traditions," noted the bench.
The Court also directed that the scheme/SOP must be given wide publicity such as at police stations, hospitals, primary health centers, district headquarters, tehsil, collectorate, etc. so that the stakeholders are aware of these schemes/ SOPs after being notified by State
This will ensure that it is complied with throughout the State of Uttar Pradesh.
In the month of July, 2022 the High Court had directed the UP government to consider granting employment to one family member of the Hathras gang rape victim, and relocating the family to another part of the State keeping in mind their social and economic condition.
Advocates Abhinav Bhattacharya, Ajit Singh, Anjani Kumar Mishra, Ashish Kumar Agarwal, Atul K Singh, Atul Kumar Singh, Digvijay Singh Yadav, Jaideep Narain Mathur Ac, Nadeem Murtaza, Onkar Singh, Pradeep Kumar Singh, Seema Kushwaha and Sharad Bhatnagar appeared for the petitioners.
Senior Advocate SV Raju, Advocates Anurag Kumar Singh, Ashok Shukla, Dr Ravi Kumar Mishra, Manjusha, Pranjal Krishna and Satyaveer Singh appeared for the respondents.
The bench appreciated the efforts made by Amicus Curiae, counsel and also the officials of the State for coming with such scheme/SOP so that in future such disputes and complications do not arise as have arisen in the present case.
"We expect the State authorities to act in accordance with the scheme/SOP as and when it is notified," bench added.