Delhi High Court: A Division Bench of Rajiv Sahai Endlaw and Asha Menon, JJ., took suo motu cognizance of a news paper report wherein human rights violation of the dead bodies in Delhi have been reported.

Bench took suo motu cognizance of the following report of the Delhi Edition newspaper:

  1.  that 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;
  2. 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 corona virus disease or are suspected to have died of it;
  3. on 26.05.2020, 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;
  4. bodies of those who died 5 days ago, are yet to be cremated;
  5. the backlog in disposal of bodies has been caused owing to non-functioning of CNG furnaces at Nigam Bodh and Punjabi Bagh crematoriums;
  6. owing to the CNG furnaces not functioning, wood based cremation, which earlier was not deemed safe, has been permitted; inspite of the same being permitted, the personnel operating the said crematoriums are refusing to take part in wood based cremations;
  7. there is unrest at the Nigam Bodh Ghat; the staff and priests working there have stopped functioning.
 Bench on perusal of the above report stated that, 

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 rights of the dead.

Court referred to a Supreme Court Judgment in Pt. Parmanand Katara, Advocate v. Union of India, (1995) 3 SCC 248, wherein it was held that,

right to dignity and fair treatment under Article 21 of the Constitution of India is not only available to a living man but also to his body, after his death.

Thus, Court on observing the above mentioned violations of human rights took suo moto cognizance also by the present order brought the same to the notice of Chief Justice to take up the matter in public interest.

Copy of this order be also forwarded to Ramesh Singh Senior Standing Counsel Government of NCT of Delhi as well as to the Standing Counsels of North Delhi Municipal Corporation, South Delhi Municipal Corporation and East Delhi Municipal Corporation, who are entrusted of various Cremation and burial grounds in Delhi, to enable them to obtain instructions and present the facts before this Court.

Matter to be listed on 29-05-2020. [Court on its own motion, In Re; 2020 SCC OnLine Del 610 , decided on 28-05-2020]

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