[COVID-19] Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind moves SC in Plea seeking Stay on burial in Mumbai cemeteries, says Govt Guidelines stipulates no bar
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[COVID-19] Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind moves SC in Plea seeking Stay on burial in Mumbai cemeteries, says Govt Guidelines stipulates no bar

Muslim rights organization through Advocate Ejaz Maqbool has stated that since Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind protects Muslim culture and recognizes that burial is an integral part of Islam, it be allowed to intervene in the case.

Debayan Roy

Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind has approached the Supreme Court of India to intervene in a petition seeking to stay on burial in a few cemeteries in a densely populated area of Mumbai fearing the spread of COVID-19.

The Muslim rights organization through Advocate Ejaz Maqbool has stated that since Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind protects Muslim culture and recognizes that burial is an integral part of Islam, it be allowed to intervene in the case.

The primary basis of the intervening application lies in the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India regarding dead body management amid the COVID 19 pandemic.

The plea notes that the guidelines state that the main driver of transmission of COVID-19 is "through droplets and that there is unlikely to be an increased risk of COVID infection from a dead body to health workers or family members who follow standard precautions while handling body."

The plea by Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind states that it is a common myth that persons who have died of a "communicable disease should be cremated."

Adding on, the application states,

"This is is not true. Cremation is a matter of cultural choice and available resources. It has further been clarified that till date there is no evidence of persons having become infected from exposure to the bodies of persons who died from COVID-19,"

The plea further states that the interim advisory by the Government clarifies that people who have died from COVID-19 can be buried or cremated and inter alia stipulates the following precautions:

  • Family and friends may view the body after it has been prepared for burial, in accordance with customs. They should not touch or kiss the body and should wash hands thoroughly with soap and water after the viewing;

  • Those tasked with placing the body in the grave, on the funeral pyre, etc., should wear gloves and wash hands with soap and water after removal of the gloves once the burial is complete.

The intervening applicant substantiates this by further stating that "USA, United Kingdom, Italy, Canada and the Middle Eastern nations are burying those persons who have died due to COVID 19 and no such increased risk of spread of COVID19 virus has been highlighted by these nations due to the act of burying the dead bodies."

The primary plea in the case is from Pradeep Gandhy, Mumbai resident from the “densely populated area” of Bandra (West) who moved the top court against a Bombay High Court order of April 27 rejecting the prayer to stay burial at three cemeteries near his residence as the petitioner fears the spread of COVID-19 through the buried bodies.

The petition notes that there is no study or research to say with certainty that the infection would not spread from the buried infected bodies through the soil and underground water to the neighboring areas.

Gandhy also states that though there may be no scientific basis to the contrary, “it is precautionary in nature and imperative to be 'safe rather than sorry' in extraordinary times such as the present situation where there is no cure to the disease.”

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