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Disposal Of Dead Bodies- "If Authorities Can't Foresee Requirement Of Crematorium, Can't Expect Development Through Them": Calcutta High Court

Sparsh Upadhyay
17 March 2021 12:18 PM GMT
Disposal Of Dead Bodies- If Authorities Cant Foresee Requirement Of Crematorium, Cant Expect Development Through Them: Calcutta High Court
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Coming down heavily on the District administration, Local Self-government Institutions as well as the Development Authorities, the Calcutta High Court on Tuesday (16th March) expressed its displeasure at the report submitted by the DM, Purba Medinipur relating to the installation of the electric chulli for the utility of the people. Having perused the report, the Bench of...

Coming down heavily on the District administration, Local Self-government Institutions as well as the Development Authorities, the Calcutta High Court on Tuesday (16th March) expressed its displeasure at the report submitted by the DM, Purba Medinipur relating to the installation of the electric chulli for the utility of the people.

Having perused the report, the Bench of Chief Justice Thottathil B. Radhakrishnan and Justice Aniruddha Roy sternly remarked,

"The minimum and the most modest comment that we will put on it is that the contents of the said report is a shame on the face of the Indian Constitution."

The matter before the Court

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

The Court observed that it was dealing with the right of the human beings to have due disposal of dead bodies in a geographical scenario where land is scarce.

"We are also dealing with a community who are unfortunately treated as marginalized as a result of socio-economic deprivation", added the Court.

During the course of the last hearing, the Calcutta High Court had 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 had 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."

Court's observations on 16th March

At the outset, the Court observed that any unit of governance guided by the principles of the Constitution, particularly, the Constitutional values and the cardinal human values embedded in it through the doctrine of dignity contained in its Preamble would have definitely done what ought to have been done for the people even without any judicial order.

"We say so in view of the fact that the writ petition has come up since no due action was taken in spite of requests. If the District administration and the Local Self-government Institutions as well as the Development Authorities do not have the ability to foresee the requirement of crematorium, we do not think that there can be any development through these institutions except to fill the belly of those who are administering those systems", added the Court.

With these remarked, the Court adjourned the matter to 19th March 2021 so that those responsible are able to do the needful and place before the Court, the steps taken, disclosing the facts and figures and date-wise Action Taken Report on the issue concerned.

Lastly, the Court directed that it be treated as a peremptory direction, in the failure of which, we will proceed with further action against all concerned including the District Magistrate, Purba Medinipur.

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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