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Constitutional & Statutory Responsibility Of Govt. To Dispose Of Dead Bodies Which Aren't Being Cared For By Near & Dear Ones: Calcutta High Court

Sparsh Upadhyay
4 March 2021 4:41 PM GMT
Constitutional & Statutory Responsibility Of Govt. To Dispose Of Dead Bodies Which Arent Being Cared For By Near & Dear Ones: Calcutta High Court
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The Calcutta High Court on Tuesday (02nd March) directed the West Bengal State Government to take a decision relating to the installation of the electric chulli (electric crematorium) in a particular locality of the State for the utility of the people. By issuing this order, the Bench of Chief Justice Thottathil B. Radhakrishnan and Justice Arijit Banerjee also...

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The Calcutta High Court on Tuesday (02nd March) directed the West Bengal State Government to take a decision relating to the installation of the electric chulli (electric crematorium) in a particular locality of the State for the utility of the people.

By issuing this order, the Bench of Chief Justice Thottathil B. Radhakrishnan and Justice Arijit Banerjee also observed,

"Disposal of dead bodies, in the ultimate situation of such dead bodies not being cared for by the near and dear ones, is the constitutional and statutory responsibility of the Government or the local self-government in accordance with the Acts and Rules."

The Court was dealing with a plea seeking installation of an electric chulli for an area as it was submitted that it is absolutely essential having regard to the larger interest of managing right to life and connected issues particularly, decent disposal of human remains.

During the course of last hearing in this matter, noting that the area is mostly inhabited by people who are socially or economically marginalized, the Court had remarked,

"Of course, there can be no classification on the basis of caste, creed, colour, sex, or economic status in the matter of enjoying the last fundamental right available on earth as part of right to life, that is to say decent disposal of one's human remains or a dead body."

In answer to a query raised by the Court, the counsel for the State had submitted that the electric chulli could be put up if work is carried out on a war footing, within a period of six weeks subject.

To this, the Court had said,

"We are sure that no department would delay grant of such sanctions as are required and also provide funds for the inexcusable need for human existence since the Government cannot fix any timeframe for the continued existence of any human being."

Now, on 2nd March, the Court went through the material papers and opined that disposal of dead bodies is a matter on which there cannot be a long drawn process of policymaking because one of the surest things on Earth is that one who is born will definitely die.

Lastly, the Court directed the District Magistrate and the officials to place the final decision in the matter relating to the installation of the electric chulli for the utility of the people, majority of whom are economically and socially marginalized.

However, the Court did note that economic and social criteria could never be an identifiable indicium to differentially treat human beings once they turn to be human remains.

With this, the respondents and the District Magistrate were directed to do the needful and have the issues resolved without fail within a period of a fortnight. The matter has been listed for further hearing on 16th March 2021.

Case title - Lakshmikanta Lagar & Ors. v. The State of West Bengal & Ors. [WPA 7051 of 2020 with IA no: CAN 1 of 2020]

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