Delhi High Court
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Highly dissatisfactory storage and cremation facilities for those who died due to COVID-19: Delhi HC takes suo motu cognizance

Aditi Singh

The Delhi High Court has taken suo motu cognizance of "highly dissatisfactory" storage and cremation facilities in the city for those who have died on account of COVID-19.

A Division Bench of Justices Rajiv Sahai Endlaw and Asha Menon took on record the following information from a news piece to register a petition:

- Lok Nayak Hospital is the largest dedicated COVID – 19 hospital in the city and its mortuary is the repository of bodies of those who died of the coronavirus disease or are suspected to have died of it.

- Inside the COVID-19 Mortuary of Lok Nayak Hospital in Delhi, there are 108 bodies; all 80 storage racks are full and there are 28 bodies on the floor, piled on top of each other.

- On May 26, eight bodies were returned from Nigam Bodh Ghat, CNG Crematorium because the facility was not in a position to accept more bodies, as only two of the six furnaces were working.

- Bodies of those who died 5 days ago, are yet to be cremated.

- Backlog in disposal of bodies has been caused owing to non-functioning of CNG furnaces at Nigam Bodh and Punjabi Bagh crematoriums.

- Wood-based cremation, which is not deemed safe, has been permitted. However, the personnel operating the crematoriums are refusing to take part in wood-based cremations.

- There is unrest at the Nigam Bodh Ghat as the staff and priests have stopped functioning.

We, as citizens of Delhi are pained at the aforesaid state of affairs and as judges find the situation as reported and if true, to be highly dissatisfactory and violative of the rights of the dead.
Delhi High Court said.

The Court referred to a series of judgments passed by the Supreme Court to state that right to dignity and fair treatment under Article 21 of the Constitution of India was not only available to a living man but also to his body, after his death.

We thus take suo moto cognizance of the aforesaid violations of human rights and by this order bring the same to the notice of Hon'ble the Chief Justice, to take up the aforesaid matter in public interest, for issuing requisite directions.
Delhi High Court ordered.

Subject to the orders of the Chief justice, the Petition would be listed on May 29 before the PIL Bench headed by Chief Justice of the High court, Justice DN Patel.

Read the Order:

Court on its own motion - cremation an storage of COVID-19 dead.pdf
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