CORPSE FLOATING IN GANGA: SUPREME COURT REFUSES TO ENTERTAIN PLEA SEEKING DIRECTIONS FOR PROPER DISPOSAL OF BODIES; GRANTS LIBERTY TO APPROACH NHRC
The Supreme Court on Monday refused to entertain the plea filed in search of instructions for framing of a policy to protect the rights of the dead and controlling the overcharging for cremations, burials of people who died of Covid-19 and ambulance services
A Division Bench of Justice Nageswara Rao and Justice Hemant Gupta has granted liberty to the petitioner to approach the National Human Rights Commission.
During the hearing, Advocate Robin Raju performing for the petitioner informed the Court that guidelines are being looked for formulation policy to protect rights of the dead, in wake of incidents of bodies being discovered in river Ganga.
He introduced that the petitioner organisation, took the problem up before the High Court as well, however the needful hasn't been done
"You have cited a few recommendations of NHRC and NHRC was asked to respond. You go to the NHRC. How many forums will you approach. You have already approached High Court, High Court gave a direction, NHRC has interfered." the Bench observed.
"Mr Raju, there is nothing occurring now also. The problem you're raising is critical problem we agree, but fortuitously the scenario isn't that now. Go to NHRC, NHRC will pass orders taking care of issues." Justice Rao said.
In the wake of tragic information of our bodies floating in the river Ganga, the existing plea turned into filed by NGO Trust Distress Management Collective, stressing on the dire need to enact a particular legislation that protects the rights of the dead, and for issuance of guidelines to all the States and UTs to prescribe charges for cremations and ambulance services in conjunction with penal actions for non-compliance at the earliest.
The plea took note of the advisory issued by the National Human Rights Commission on 14th May 2021, for upholding the honor and protecting the rights of the dead, wherein eleven recommendations were given to the Centre and all the State and UTs.
Further, the NHRC through a letter to the Union Home Secretary, Union Health and Family Welfare Secretary and the Chief Secretaries and Administrators of States and Union Territories, had asked for the implementation of its recommendations in the advisory and the action taken report within 4 weeks.
Highlighting the problem of overcharging of crematoriums and ambulance service providers, the plea said that those problems are at once related with the news of bodies being dumped at River Ganga, as because of exorbitant amounts charged, people decided to put the bodies in River Ganga.
The petitioner organisation pointed out that, it took up the issue of overcharging by crematoriums and ambulance service providers in Delhi the High Court of Delhi ( Distress Management Collective v Govt. of NCT of Delhi), where through its order dated 6th May 2021, Court gave petitioner the liberty to preferential representation to the concerned municipal corporations.
According to the petitioner, when a representation was made to all 4 Municipal Corporations on 11th May, by giving reference of the order of the High Court, they have been not acknowledged or answered to, which reaffirmed the petitioner's notion no concrete movement could be taken by them regulate the overcharging.
"In view of the fact that issue of floating useless bodies in River Ganga has attracted unwanted global media attention, it is imperative that this Hon'ble Apex court directs the Centre to consider the gravity of the issue and enact a law that ensures dignity and the rights of the dead." the plea reads
The present plea has been filed by Advocate Jose Abraham and drawn by Advocates Robin Raju, Blessan Mathews and Deepa Joseph.The NGO, through its petition sought the following relief from the top Court:
• Direct the respondents to consider formulating a policy that protects the rights of the dead.
• Direct the respondents to advise all the States/UTs to frame guidelines that regulates the ongoing overcharging for cremations/burials of those who died due to Covid-19.
• Direct the respondents to suggest all the States/UTs to frame guidelines that regulates the continued overcharging by ambulance provider companies.