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Bombay HC refuses to interfere in plea alleging lapses at city cremetoriums

A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice N J Jamadar was hearing a plea claiming serious lapses at crematoriums and that smoke from the crematorium was causing problems to citizens staying in the neighbourhood.

Written by Omkar Gokhale | Mumbai | Updated: July 3, 2020 4:27:19 pm
The plea also claimed that hospitals were not following guidelines which prescribed that the dead bodies were to be wrapped in leak-proof bags before sending them for cremation. (Representational image/ Express photo: Manoj Kumar)

Maintaining that the civic and police authorities should continue adhering to guidelines for handling and disposal of dead bodies of Covid-19 victims to preserve the dignity of citizens, the Bombay High Court Friday said that authorities should ensure that no citizen staying nearby crematoriums be put at risk.

After the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) submitted that it was taking necessary and adequate measures by following guidelines for safe disposal of dead bodies of Covid-19 victims, the Court refused to interfere in a plea alleging lapses in handling and disposal of dead bodies in crematoriums in the city in areas such as Shivaji Park, Sion and Chandanwadi.

A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice N J Jamadar was hearing a plea by activist and former journalist Ketan Tirodkar filed through advocate Aparna Vhatkar. The plea had claimed that there were serious lapses at city’s overburdened crematoriums and that smoke from the crematorium was causing problems to citizens staying in the neighbourhood.

The plea also said that staff at these crematoriums were not provided safety gears including personal protection equipment (PPE) kits, masks, sanitizers etc and were neither provided proper medical aid.

The plea also claimed that hospitals were not following guidelines which prescribed that the dead bodies were to be wrapped in leak-proof bags before sending them for cremation.

On Friday, Senior Counsel Anil Sakhare for the BMC submitted that the civic body was following guidelines laid down by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and central government agencies for safe disposal of dead bodies.

“The staff, driver and the attendant transporting bodies from the concerned hospital to the crematorium are provided with safety gears and undergo regular thermal screening and throat swabs are also taken for Covid-19 tests,” Sakhare submitted.

BMC said that as per procedure, when Covid-19 patient dies in a hospital, then authorities would inform the Police and crematorium, which take all necessary steps to transport the body from hospital to crematorium.

He further said that dead bodies of Covid-19 victims are disposed of only in electric crematoriums and every day only 20 bodies infected with Covid-19 are permitted to be disposed of in one crematorium. The cremation of non-Covid dead bodies is also permitted simultaneously, Sakhare said. Unclaimed bodies are disposed of by the police station staff, he said.

After hearing submissions, the bench led by CJ Datta noted that authorities were scrupulously following guidelines laid down for management and safe disposal of dead bodies of Covid-19 victims and the Court would not interfere as there was no case made out by the petitioner.

Disposing of the plea, the HC said, “The BMC and all other authorities shall continue adhering to the guidelines so that dignity of all citizens is preserved and no citizen is put to any unnecessary risks.”

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