In this age of pervasiveness, not only life but also death has changed.
Increasing deaths during Covid-19 have led to various omissions. The burial or
cremation of the deceased is never the same during this epidemic, but the rights
granted to the dead are micro and are not absolute in manner. This epidemic has
brought not only the economic and health crisis to our country but also the
crisis towards human faith in his last journey. A dead person gets various
rights and treaties guaranteed by our constitution.
Decent burial of dead bodies
and crime committed towards them are two main elements the legal guidelines are
made upon. With India's battle against COVID-19, failure to function the last
rites and appropriate handling of dead bodies are disastrous consequences with
widespread cases. Lakhs of death could merely overwhelm the beliefs of Indian
citizens. Hence the World Health Organisation lately stated that the future of
the pandemic depends on how India handles it. Here, we have summarized the
current situation of the increasing dead in the pandemic and myriad breach of
Dignity in death is recognized around the world. Burial or cremation of dead
bodies during Covid-19 is not an easy trial. Hygiene protocols such as
wrapping dead bodies in a plastic bag for infectious diseases were issued,
recognizing the reason why bodies were not handed over to their families because
the virus could be spread to others through body fluids. In India, burial
practices differ from religion and belief. Several cases have been reported
against the authorities for not allowing the corpse to be cremated and for being
‘mishandled'. The rights and traditions of a man after death are represented by
Pooja Praja Jaiswal wrote in  The Week that:
Mumbai's Covid-19victims have no
dignity even in death:
A 53-year-old woman desperately sought an ambulance in the last week of May to
find her husband's dead body, a suspected COVID-19 patient, ten before reaching
the grave. He was home for hours. Since this is a suspicious COVID-19 case, no
Christian grave is willing to take his body.
Article 21 of the Constitution of India guarantees the right to human rights
even after death. It is noteworthy that Covid-19 victims are denied their rights
to the validity of death.
In his book The Burial Dead
by William Henry Francis Psevi, he noted that
throughout history, cultures that have no other rites have treated the dead
with reverence. The concept of respect is so entrenched that we even agree to
gently handle the bodies of our enemies.
Loops explained death, The state of death is the state not caused by the
degree of death.
In the book Literature and the Right to Death
by Maurice Blanchett, he
wrote, As long as I live, I am a human being, but when I die, I cease to be
human by stopping being that human being. I am no longer capable of dying, and
my impending death frightens me. Because I see it: no more death, but the
impossibility of dying.
But an important legal aspect is, is it illegal to deny one's last rites? Or
does the deceased lose their right by dying? SARS-CoV-2 has led to many glorious
results in man.
Stay away from disease. But do not insult the body
Honoring the dead:
In India, decent burial and cremation of the corpse where the laws are made. The
Geneva Convention of 1949 contains an important note stating that as long as
military consultation permits, such a party to the conflict will support
measures to protect those killed.
In India, there are rights and solutions under the Constitution of India and
the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
Under the Constitution of India:
The Constitution of India is a document that describes the rights and duties of
a living person. Article 21 of the Constitution includes several laws, including
the Right to a decent burial. As a living human being the dead also has a right
to human dignity. This view was first recognized by the Supreme Court in
public interest litigation filed by an attorney. Ashray Chief Abhiyan Vs. The
Union of India states that a good burial is the right of a state according to
the culture and religious beliefs of the deceased.
Under the Indian Penal Code:
The right to decent burial comes under the Indian Penal Code. But the
authorized person of decent burial is nowhere mentioned in the law.
This section punishes a person who violates burial places or
harasses persons gathered for funerals under this section. The purpose of
section 21 includes the right to a good burial, the court highlighted this part
of the IPC.
This section refers to the dishonest misappropriation of the
property of a deceased person, which is a serious form of an offense under
Section 403 of the IPC. In the case of Balamunishi Boy Vs. Where a person is
removed from the body of a deceased person, he will not be punished under
Section 403 because a dead body is not a person and therefore cannot hold
property, the court said.
This section deals with defamation and defines defamation or libel
against a deceased person, contributing to the crime of libel. Mrs. Pat
Sharp Vs. Dwijendra Nath Bose, the court said that even if Netaji was dead, it
would be defamatory because the indictment should have been said.
This section deals with criminal intimidation, which accuses a
person of threatening to injure a rejecting a deceased person. Therefore, the
government is responsible for maintaining and disposing of the body that is
unsafe for other organisms. The unclaimed dead body should be claimed by the
government and their right to a decent burial should be added.
The motion of international law:
Many international treaties and laws deal with the rights of the dead.
The UK Military Guide 1958 states,  The dead must be protected from
At the 1949 Geneva Convention of Section 16, action would be taken to protect
those killed from mistreatment until the military concept allowed each side to
In Iraq, the dead are buried on the same day as possible. Some burials have
delays of approximately 6 to 8 days. In this contagious situation, public
meetings of mourning are no longer allowed.
Farewells to the dead in Pakistan, Ireland, and Turkey have been conducted by
remote burial. Persons involved in the body will only be allowed in the body
washing rituals before burial.
In China, the families of the deceased have not been able to pick up the
cremated ashes for more than 2 months.
In the Philippines, a dead body must be cremated within 12 hours. If the
deceased person is a Muslim, the body should be placed in a sealed bag and
buried within 12 hours in a nearby Muslim cemetery according to Muslim rites.
The United Nations Commission on Human Rights 2005 states that the
resolution on human rights and forensic science underscores the importance of
dealing with human remains and the disposal of proper management, including
respect for the needs of families.
Breach of deceased rights:
The legal status of dead bodies is generally unclear during the Covid-19
period, i.e. it should be treated with dignity and respect by the
state. Abhiyan Vs. Union of India, the Supreme Court ruled that the death of
an unidentified person was the responsibility of the state to make a good
burial. In the light of Covid-19, the Bombay High Court in the case
of Pradeep Gandhi & Ars. V. Maharashtra & Ars
., Has clearly emphasized that
the right to a decent burial is compatible with the privacy of the individual,
which is recognized as an aspect of the right to life guaranteed under Article
21 of the Constitution.
It is disastrous to note that the deceased has not been deprived of his / her
entitlement during his / her lifetime, and at least a decent burial has not been
initiated during the crisis. Even in the event of any natural disaster, the
National Disaster Management Guidelines emphasize the disposal of dead bodies.
Recently, in the Mishandling
case of bodies dying due to Covid-19 at LNJP
Hospital in Delhi, the Supreme Court criticized government hospitals and
said that respect for treating Covid-19patients was ‘horrible and pathetic' and
that they were worse than animals. Patients admitted to hospitals tested
positive for Covit-19 have no proper follow-up, guidance and care.
The Supreme Court reiterated that dead bodies should be treated with dignity
and respect according to their religion and culture. But at the current edge of
Covid-19 patients in all government facilities, it has become a difficult task
for the state to ensure that every dead body is treated with dignity as it is
expected that there will only be more burden in controlling the epidemic.
Various reports of misuse of corpses in various hospitals across India have
rightly called for court intervention.
Funerals for Coronavirus victims have been a problem in many countries,
including India. So, in theory there are two main laws for a dead body 1.
Removal of bodies and 2. Crime against them. In a country like India, the virus
that causes SARS-Cov-2, Covid-19 is at its peak and the number of cases
is 78,14,682 and the death toll is 1,17,956. The novel Coronavirus kills 650
lives by extorting dead body within 24 hours, without giving a chance to the
last rites of a loved one. In this situation, burial issues are tragic
conditions for human beings, and their mere rights are denied. All living beings
have their rights and solutions and so does the dead.
In the Supreme Court judgement of Pt. Parmanand Katara (Adv.) V Union of
India & Ann
: (1995) (3 SCC 248), where the right to dignity is available not
only to a living person but also to his body after his death. In addition to the
various health measures and precautions introduced by the Government of India in
this epidemic situation, Ramji Singh @ Mujeeb Bai Vs. UP & Ors
: 2009 SCC
Online AII 310 (2009) 5 AII LJ 376, The expression ‘person' in Article 21 of the
Constitution of India includes a dead person in a limited sense. If he were
alive, he would have the right to dignity and respect for the dead body he
possessed subject to his religion, tradition, and culture.
The dead bodies of the Coronavirus should be respected and they should not
stigmatize their families, friends, and relatives to perform the funeral rites.
Under Section 295A of the Indian Penal Code,1860 no person can offend any
person's religious feelings or beliefs. In this crisis, we must pay our respects
by fighting together against the Nobel Coronavirus and by standing up for the
rights of all those affected and passed during this pandemic.
- Burial or cremation: What is a safer funeral if someone dies of
- No dignity even in death for Mumbai's COVID-19 victims
- No dignity even in death for Mumbai's COVID-19 victims
- Literature and the Right to Death Quotes
- COVID does not spread from dead body: DMO
- Article 16 of Geneva Convention, 1949
- Parmanand Katara Vs. Union of India & others 1989 AIR 2039, 1989 SCR (3) 997
- Ashray Adhikar Abhiyan Vs. Union of India 2002 WCP 143 of 2001
- Burhan Shah, (1887) P.R. NO. 26 of 188
- The Hindu ‘Right to decent burial is part of fundamental right to life
says High Court'
- Balamunishi Bhai Vs. State 1958 Cri. L.J. 902
- Rights of the Dead under the Law and Legal remedies
- Right to Decent Burial as Per Religion Under Articles 21 And 25:
Calcutta HC issues Guidelines
- Coronavirus Is Changing the Rituals of Death for Many Religions
- Ashray Adkhikari Abhiyan v. Union of India AIR 2002 SC 554
- Pradeep Gandhy v. The State of Maharashtra & Others Special Leave Petition
(Civil) Diary No. 11081 of 2020
- Management of Dead Bodies in Disaster Situations, Disaster Manuals and
Guidelines Series No.5 https://www.who.int/hac/techguidance/management_of_dead_bodies.pdf
- In Re: The Proper Treatment of Covid-19 Patients and Dignified Handling
of Dead Bodies in The Hospitals Etc. 19.06.2020
- 53,370 New Covid-19 Cases Reported In India Sat 24 Oct 2020 https://www.en.etemaaddaily.com/health/coronavirus-updates/53370-new-covid-19-cases-reported-in-india:84578
- Pt. Parmanand Katara vs Union Of India & Ors on 28 August,AIR 2039, 1989
SCR (3) 997
- Ramji Singh @ Mujeeb Bhai versus State Of U.P. Thru' Principal Secy.
(Home) & Ors.
High Court of Judicature at Allahabad
- Ayesha Afrose -
- M.Anantha Pavithra - Student Year: 2nd, B. S. Abdur Rahman
Crescent Institute of Science and Technology
E-mail: [email protected]