The Allahabad High Court has directed the State of Uttar Pradesh to notify and implement its Scheme/SOP for the cremation of dead bodies throughout the state and give it wide publicity such as at Police Stations, Hospitals, Primary Health Centers, District Headquarters, Tehsil, Collectorate, etc.
The Court has also directed it to sensitize the Officers and employees under the State who are to be involved in the cremation of dead bodies to follow UP Govt's fresh scheme/SOP regarding dignified cremation of dead bodies.
It may be noted that the SOP has been formed after the High Court had initiated Suo-Moto case over the Hathras Rape and Cremation case to examine the right to decent and dignified last rites/cremation.
During the course of hearing in this matter, the UP Govt was asked to come up with an SOP so as to ensure that even a dead person is given the right of treatment of his body with respect and dignity which he would have deserved had he been alive, subject to his tradition, culture, and religion which he professed.
In its order dated August 5, 2022, the bench of Justice Rajan Roy and Justice Jaspreet Singh stressed that the right of dignified life under Article 21 of the Constitution of India is not only available to a living person but also to the 'dead'.
"Even a dead person has the right of treatment of his body with respect and dignity which he would have deserved had he been alive, subject to his tradition, culture and religion which he professed. These rights are not only for the deceased but, his family members also have a right to perform last rites as per religious traditions. Right to a decent burial has been held to be commensurate with the dignity of the individual and this has been reiterated as a recognized facet of right to Page No. 2 life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India," the Court further added.
Further, the Court perused the SOP for the cremation of dead bodies filed before us by the State Government through the affidavit of Rajesh Kumar Rai, Special Secretary, Home, Government of U.P., Lucknow, the Court suggested certain changes and directed the state to notify the same.
Importantly, the Court stressed that the Officers and employees under the State who are to be involved in the cremation of such bodies should be sensitized and counseled to follow the scheme/SOP strictly and in a manner so as to achieve the object rather than to defeat it.
"The observance and adherence to the scheme/SOP should not be an eye-wash nor an empty formality. The letter and spirit of the scheme/SOP is paramount as it touches upon valuable constitutional and fundamental rights as already referred hereinabove, therefore, the entire exercise should be conducted in a solemn manner with due respect to such rights," the Court added as it expected the State authorities to act in accordance with the Scheme/SOP as and when it is notified.
In related news, the Allahabad High Court on July 26 directed the Uttar Pradesh Government to consider giving employment to one of the family members of the Hathras Gang rape Victim under the Government or Government Undertaking commensurate with the qualification possessed by them.
The bench of Justice Rajan Roy and Justice Jaspreet Singh also directed the government to consider their relocation to any other place within the State outside Hathras keeping in mind their social and economic rehabilitation and also the educational needs of the children.
Case title - Suo-Moto Inre Right To Decent And Dignified Last Rites/Cremation v. State Of U.P. Thru Additional Chief Secretary Home And Ors.
Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (AB) 342