In a significant development that would bring relief to Indian emigrants, the Union of India informed the Delhi High Court that the rule of 48 hours advance intimation for repatriation of mortal remains is not mandatory and that it may be waived off in case the applicant supplies the requisite documents to the concerned authorities.
The clarification was given by the Central Government in a PIL filed by the Pravasi Legal Cell, challenging the advance notice rule mentioned under Rule 43 of the Aircraft (Public Health) Rules, 1954. The matter was listed before the bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice C. Hari Shankar.
The Rule states,
"The consignee as well as the air transport service shall give to the Health Officer of the airport of arrival advance intimation of at least 48 hours, of the importation of the dead body or human remains or ashes of cremated bodies."
The government has clarified that advance intimation of 48 hours is not a sine qua non, provided the applicant provides the below mentioned four documents to the concerned Health Office:
- Death certificate by the health department of the concerned country- clearly mentioning the cause of Death;
- Embalming certificate;
- NOC from the Indian High Commission of the concerned country;
- Cancelled Copy of the passport.
The proceedings were initiated in the backdrop of a circular issued by Air India in July 2017, instructing all the airports to mandatorily implement the provision of 48 hours prior notice for the repatriation of human remains.
Taking note of the clarification given by the centre, the high court disposed of the petition with the following observation,
"it is submitted by learned counsel for the respondent no. 1 that advance intimation of 48 hours is not a sine qua non provided concerned person is supplying the aforesaid four documents …the condition of advance intimation of 48 hours provided under Rule 43 of the Aircraft (Public Health) Rules, 1954 can always be waived by the respondents."
Case Title: Pravasi Legal Cell v. Union of India & Ors.
Case No.: WP (C) No. 6509/2017
Quorum: Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice C. Hari Shankar
Appearance: Advocates Jose Abraham and MP Srivignes (for Petitioner); Standing Counsel Suparna Srivastava, and Advocates Tushar Mathur, Dhruv Dwivedi and Abhishek Gupta (for Respondents)