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Meghalaya HC Takes Serious Note Of Obstruction Caused To Funeral Of COVID-19 Infected Doctor; Issues Directions [Read Order]

16 April 2020 4:40 PM GMT
Meghalaya HC Takes Serious Note Of Obstruction Caused To Funeral Of COVID-19 Infected Doctor; Issues Directions [Read Order]
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The Meghalaya High Court on Thursday took serious note of the obstruction caused to the funeral of a senior doctor who died due to COVID-19.

The Court observed that this incident which happened on April 15 "shocked the conscience of every right thinking individual".

A bench comprising Justices H S Thangkhiew and W Diengdoh was considering a Public Interest Litigation filed by the High Court of Meghalaya Bar Association, highlighting several issues following the first COVID-19 case detected in Shillong on April 13, which led to the death of a senior doctor.

Senior Advocate S P Mananta, and Adv K Paul, Vice President of the Bar Association, raised the following issues :

  • There is no designated COVID-19 hospital in the state.
  • There is no notification issued for handling burial and cremation of persons who die due to the pandemic.
  • No designated place for burial/cremation of COVID-19 infected persons.
  • Lack of PPEs to medical workers.
  • No tests done on persons who came into primary contact with the deceased doctor.
  • Lack of arrangements for food for persons under quarantine.

They also highlighted the obstruction caused by local bodies to the funeral of the deceased doctor.

In response, A Kumar, Advocate General, submitted that needful was being done by the state government. The petitioners should first see the steps taken by the State authorities, instead of making vague allegations, he submitted.

The bench criticized the conduct of local bodies which caused obstruction to the funeral of the deceased doctor.

"on the subsequent events after the detection of the first case and the unfortunate demise of the senior doctor, this court cannot but remark on the inept way the same was handled by the State authorities and the conduct of the Local Bodies/Durbar Shnongs which has shocked the conscience of every right thinking individual. It is noted that the State authorities have reposed immense faith on these Durbar Shnongs to ease the troubles of the citizens in this crisis, but what was seen was these two Durbar Shnongs of Nongpoh and Jhalupara by their actions and conduct, instead of being part of the solution were adding to the problems", the bench observed.

The Court then directed the State Government to ensure the testing of the primary contacts of the deceased doctor, and to ensure ensure that adequate assistance is rendered to the patients who are stranded in Bethany Hospital and also who are housed in the other quarantine facilities.

The State authorities are to strictly follow the guidelines on dead body management as prescribed by the Government of India and by the World Health Organization such as the supply of PPE's to the detailed staff, apart from notifying the same for the information of the general public for their sensitization, the Court orderd.

As regards obstruction to burials or cremations, the Court ordered that "any person, local body/Durbar Shnong or organization which obstructs the State authorities in the control of the pandemic or any matter connected thereto, such as dead body management, cremation and burial shall be dealt with in accordance with law and cases to be registered under appropriate provisions of law".

The State authorities were directed to sensitize the public especially where the cremation of burial grounds are situated to avoid any further unfortunate incident as had been witnessed on 15.04.2020.

The matter will be further considered on April 21 for status report.

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