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Delhi HC Directs Delhi Govt To File Status Report In Suo Moto Matter Concerning Proper Disposal Of Bodies of COVID19 Victims

Karan Tripathi
29 May 2020 6:21 AM GMT
Delhi HC Directs Delhi Govt To File Status Report In Suo Moto Matter Concerning Proper Disposal Of Bodies of  COVID19 Victims
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Delhi High Court has directed the Delhi Government to file a status report on a suo moto matter concerning the sad state of affairs in which the bodies of those who have died of COVID19 are being handled by the mortuary as well as crematoriums.

The Division Bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal has asked the Delhi Government to file the said status report before June 02.

Yesterday, the Division Bench of Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw and Justice Asha Menon had taken a suo moto cognizance of a newspaper report which has highlighted the sad state of affairs in which the bodies of those who have died of COVID19 are being handled by the mortuary as well as crematoriums.

The court had passed an order to bring the alleged human rights violations to the notice of the Chief Justice, to take up the aforesaid matter in public interest, for issuing requisite directions.

Today the Delhi Government informed the court that the highlighted situation arose due to the following unavoidable circumstances:

  1. Reduced capacity of Nigambodh Ghat to handle bodies, on account of snags in furnaces
  2. Workers at crematorium refusing to handle COVID-19 deceased;
  3. Sudden spike in COVID-19 cases, and related deaths in Delhi;
  4. Relatives refusing to come forward to claim bodies, etc.

Delhi Government further informed the court that the following urgent steps were taken to address the situation:

  1. LNJP being authorised to divert bodies to crematoriums at Panchkuian and Punjab Bagh, as opposed to only Nigambodh Ghat
  2. Authorised wood fired traditional cremations, in addition to electric and CNG furnaces
  3. PPE kits for all workers, as well as bodies
  4. Extension of working hours of crematoriums 7am to 10pm (as opposed to 9am to 4pm)

The court was also informed that 28 bodies were disposed of on 28 May, and by tomorrow (30 May) the remaining 35 bodies will be disposed of. Only those bodies will be retained back where PM / investigations are to be carried out.

The newspaper report which the court perused has mentioned the following:

  1. that inside the COVID-19 Mortuary of Lok Nayak Hospital in Delhi, there are 108 bodies; all 80 storage racks are full and there are 28 bodies on the floor, piled on top of each other;
  2. Lok Nayak Hospital is the largest dedicated COVID – 19 hospital in the city and its mortuary is the repository of bodies of those who died of the corona virus disease or are suspected to have died of it;
  3. on 26.05.2020, eight bodies were returned from Nigam Bodh Ghat, CNG Crematorium because the facility was not in a position to accept more bodies, as only two of the six furnaces were working;
  4. bodies of those who died 5 days ago, are yet to be cremated
  5. the backlog in disposal of bodies has been caused owing to non-functioning of CNG furnaces at Nigam Bodh and Punjabi Bagh crematoriums;
  6. owing to the CNG furnaces not functioning, wood based cremation, which earlier was not deemed safe, has been permitted; inspite of the same being permitted, the personnel operating the said crematoriums are refusing to take part in wood based cremations;
  7. there is unrest at the Nigam Bodh Ghat; the staff and priests working there have stopped functioning.

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