HC seeks clarification over violence during doctor’s burial

Chennai ,Apr 21:

The Madras High Court on Monday issued notice to Tamil Nadu government and the DGP returnable by April 28 after taking up on its own a case of violence that took place over the burial of a doctor who died of COVID-19.

Making it clear that right to have a decent burial is a constitutional right, the High Court took cognizance of the incident involving authorities being prevented by residents of a locality here on Sunday from burying the body of a neurologist who died of COVID-19 infection.

A Special Division Bench comprising Justice M.

Sathynarayanan and Justice M. Nirmal Kumar took up the matter on its own on the basis of media reports.

“It prima facie appears that as a consequence of the alleged acts (of Kilpauk residents), a person who practised a noble profession as a doctor and breathed his last, has been deprived of his right, to have a burial, in a cemetery earmarked for that purpose..

….that apart, on account of law and order and public order problem created, the officials who have performed their duties, appeared to have sustained grievous injuries,”the bench said.

It said the citizens are not expected to take law and order into their own hands which would definitely lead to anarchy and there is every likelihood of continuation of similar incidents in future.

Therefore, the bench issued notices to the State government and the DGP returnable by April 28.

The court took notes of media reports on April 19 that a medical doctor who had already had health problems suffered heart attack due to complications developed on account of COVID-19 infection.

The body of the doctor was taken to a Christian cemetery at Kilpauk. The residents of the area assembled in large numbers and opposed the burial.

As a consequence, the body was taken to Velangadu and buried.

In the process, the ambulance in which the body was taken and the people accompanying the body were attacked.

Meanwhile, a PIL filed in the court seeking slapping of stringent goondas Act on those preventing burial of COVID-19 victims.

A decent burial/cremation was a fundamental right of every citizen of this country guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution and it cannot be denied under the garb of protests, A P Suryaprakasam, the petitioner-advocate, said in his public interest litigation likely to be taken up for hearing this week.

The ambulance in which the doctor’s body was taken and its driver were attacked, he said adding such people have not only violated law, but also committed a grave crime against humanity.

The failure on part of the police to register an FIR and arrest such people have emboldened them to deprive the victims of COVID-19 a decent burial, he added.

He pleaded with the court to direct the City police Commissioner to invoke provisions of the Goondas Act against those preventing burial of people who die of coronavirus and provide adequate police protection.

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