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"Burial Essential In Islam": Jamiat-Ulama-I-Hind Intervenes In Plea Seeking Temporary Ban Of Burial COVID19 Afflicted Bodies

Sanya Talwar
2 May 2020 9:29 AM GMT
Burial Essential In Islam: Jamiat-Ulama-I-Hind Intervenes In Plea Seeking Temporary Ban Of Burial COVID19 Afflicted Bodies
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An application has been filed in the Supreme Court for purposes of impleadment in a petition seeking temporary ban on burial at Muslim cemeteries during the COVID19 outbreak.The applicant organisation Jamiat-Ulama-i-Hind contends that banning burial of dead bodies who have been afflicted with the virus in cemetries goes against the tenets of Constitutional principles, vis-à-vis Right to...

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An application has been filed in the Supreme Court for purposes of impleadment in a petition seeking temporary ban on burial at Muslim cemeteries during the COVID19 outbreak.

The applicant organisation Jamiat-Ulama-i-Hind contends that banning burial of dead bodies who have been afflicted with the virus in cemetries goes against the tenets of Constitutional principles, vis-à-vis Right to practice one's religion under Article 25 of the Constitution as burial of dead bodies is essential to the religion of Islam and/or Christianity.

Fearing the risk of COVID-19 spreading through infected dead bodies, a Mumbai resident had moved Supreme Court seeking a stay on burials being allowed in three cemeteries next to his residential area.

It is in plea (Pradeep Gandhy Vs. State of Maharashtra) that the organisation is seeking impleadment. Petitioner Pradeep Gandhy has moved a Special leave petition after the Bombay High Court on April 27 refused to stay the burials of deceased in three cemeteries of Bandra West

"It is submitted that the apprehension of the Petitioner herein that burial of dead bodies of those persons who were infected with COVID-19 will risk the spread of such infection in the vicinity is unfounded and that at the outset it is pertinent to mention that there is no risk of spreading of the COVID-19 virus during such burial" - the applicant-organisation pleads.

The intervention application further avers that as grievance of the petitioner is based only on unfounded "apprehensions", it must not be allowed.

Furthermore, it is highlighted that various advisories issued by the Government of India as well as by the World Health Organisation state otherwise as against what has been averred by the Petitioner, i.e., "the burial of persons infected with COVID19 would risk spread of infecrion in the neighbouring areas"

 "...transmission of COVID-19 is through droplets and that there is unlikely to be an increased risk of COVID infection from a dead body to health workers or family members who follow standard precautions while handling body" - applicant submits.

In this backdrop, it is averred that if basic and proper guidelines while conducting burials are followed such as sensitisation of Crematorium, burial ground staff, following basic practices of hand hygiene and precautions; transmission of infection cannot happen. It is stated that the WHO prescribes precautions in case the burial is being done solely by family members in case of deaths at home as well, such as not touching or kissing the body after it has been prepared as per custom for burial, keeping people who have underlying illnesses, children and older people away from etc.

Further, applicant highlights that Guidelines enunciate "religious rituals such as reading from religious scripts, sprinkling holy water and any other last rites that not require touching of the body" can be even allowed for conducting last rites.

While emphasising that there are several myths surrounding those people who have died of a communicable disease, Applicant contends that it is a misconception that they must be creamted. In this regard it is submitted that,

"It is a common myth that persons who have died of a communicable disease should be cremated, but this is not true. Cremation is a matter of cultural choice and available resources."

The Applicant also draws international comparisons with USA, UK, Italy, Canada & Middle Eastern countries, stating that no such "increased risk of spread of COVID19 virus has been highlighted by these nations"

Intervention application has been filed on behalf of Advocate Ejaz Maqbool.


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