Patna High Court: Noticing alarming contradictions in death records filed by state authorities and cremation records of the crematorium, the Division Bench of Sanjay Karol, CJ., and S. Kumar, J., warned the State authorities to verify all facts before placing it before the Court lest it will amount to filing of false/incomplete affidavit. Comparing the crematorium records with government affidavit, the Bench said,
“Now, this document evidently contradicts the affidavit of the Chief Secretary, Government of Bihar in which the number of deaths reported since 01-03-2021 in District-Buxar is only 6.”
As per the detailed report submitted by the DM, total 81 dead bodies were found flowing in River Ganges. The postmortem of all the dead bodies was conducted and DNA profiling carried out. After following the due procedure, last rites of all the dead bodies were performed. Evidently, some of the dead bodies were found to be in a mutilated condition. As per the deponent, the dead bodies had “come from Uttar Pradesh due to the upstream of river Ganga.”
The State submitted that all remedial measures has already been taken for avoiding pollution in the river Ganges and as such “Mahajal was put on the Boarder of U.P. and Bihar on 10.05.2021.” This fact stands taken with the authorities in the State of Uttar Pradesh. On the direction of the Court, the Commissioner had elaborately dealt with the issue of dead bodies found flowing in River Ganges at Buxar. On the perusal of the affidavit of the Commissioner, the Bench found out a very disturbing picture revealing from 05-05-2021 to 14-05-2021 about 789 persons were cremated only at one cremation ground, i.e. Muktidham Charitarban, Buxar. The Bench remarked that, the affidavit of the commission had evidently contradict the affidavit filed by the State in which the number of deaths reported since 1st March, 2021 in District-Buxar is only 6. In Bihar, District Buxar has a huge population of 17 lakhs persons. The Bench expressed concerns that,
“If in ten days only in one crematorium 789 persons were cremated then what would be the position in the entire District and that too of persons belonging to all faith.”
Noticing that it was not clear from both the affidavits as to whether the deaths occurred/persons cremated were suffering from Covid-19, the Bench directed the authorities to determine to determine the same and further ascertain the age group of these persons. The Bench warned the State that all facts must be verified from all sources and then only placed before the Bench else it will be considered a false/incomplete affidavit.
Observing that the records of death and births had not been updated on the dedicated government website, the Bench said, “we see no reason as to why the deaths, be it 6 or 789, would not have been updated on the official website”.
Lastly, directions were issued to the State to depute at least two technically qualified persons having proficiency in computers with the AG for updating and collecting the data.
[Shivani Kaushik v. Union of India, Civil Writ Jurisdiction Case No. 353 of 2021, order dated 13-05-2021]
Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has put this report together
Advocates before the Court:
For the Petitioner/s: Shivani Kaushik (In Person)
For the UOI: Dr K.N. Singh (ASG)
For the State: Anjani Kumar, AAG-4
For the Respondent 5: Mrs Binita Singh
For Respondent 6: Shivender Kishore,
For PMC: Prasoon Sinha
For DMCH : Mr. Bindhyachal Rai, Advocate
For GMC : Mr. Rabindra Kr. Priyadarshi ,
For the Intervener : Mr. Rajiv Kumar Singh, Advocate