Corpses Floating In Ganga- PIL In Supreme Court Seeks Directions For Framing Policy To Protect Rights Of The Dead, Control On Overcharging Of Cremations & Ambulance Services

Update: 2021-05-23 03:57 GMT

In the wake of tragic news of bodies floating in the river Ganga, a PIL has been filed before Supreme Court seeking directions for framing of a policy to protect the rights of the dead and controlling the overcharging for cremations, burials of those who died of Covid-19 and ambulance services.The plea by Distress Management Collective, NGO Trust based in Delhi-NCR, has stressed on the dire...

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In the wake of tragic news of bodies floating in the river Ganga, a PIL has been filed before Supreme Court seeking directions for framing of a policy to protect the rights of the dead and controlling the overcharging for cremations, burials of those who died of Covid-19 and ambulance services.

The plea by Distress Management Collective, NGO Trust based in Delhi-NCR, has stressed on the dire need to enact a specific legislation that protects the rights of the dead, and for issuance of guidelines to all the States and UTs to prescribe rates for cremations and ambulance services along with penal actions for non-compliance at the earliest.

The plea has been filed taking note of the advisory issued by the National Human Rights Commission on 14th May 2021, for upholding the dignity and protecting the rights of the dead, whereby 11 recommendations have been 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, has also asked for the implementation of its recommendations in the advisory and the action taken report within four weeks.

Highlighting the issue of overcharging of crematoriums and ambulance service providers, the plea has stated that these two issues are directly connected with the news of bodies being dumped at River Ganga, as due to exorbitant amounts charged, people decided to put the bodies in River Ganga.

The petitioner organisation has 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 were not acknowledged or responded to, which reaffirmed the petitioner's belief no concrete action will be taken by them regulate the overcharging.

"In view of the fact that issue of floating dead 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 petitioner has cited the Supreme Court's judgement in the cases of Parmanand Katara vs Union of India and Ashray Adhikar Abhiyan vs Union of India where the importance of conferring and respecting dignity of the dead had been highlighted.

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 has 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 advise all the States/UTs to frame guidelines that regulates the ongoing overcharging by ambulance service providers.

[Distress Management Collective vs Union of India and Ors]

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