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Rights To Decent Burial During Pandemic Times

AsthiVisarjan is a very significant ritual in the Hindu religion which basically means immersion of the left ashes collected from AntimSanskar (Last Rites) of a dead person.
But in the time of Covid-19 the basic meaning of AsthiVisarjan i.e., immersion of ashes have been misunderstood as Bodies now. And we saw that Bodies are being offered to the River Ganga instead of 'Ashes.' Uncountable dead bodieshave been unearthed floating over Ganga and are so thronged that there is not even a distance of one meter between the cadavers.

Right to Decent Burial: A right under Article 21
Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, which says that:
Protection of life and personal liberty: No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to the procedure established by law.

In the Suo Motto vs. The State Of Tamil Nadu W.P. No. 7492 of 2020, the Court was of the opinion that the scope and ambit of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution includes the right of a person to have a decent burial. Taking into consideration the facts and circumstances of this case, it also mentioned that anyone who interferes in this procedure of decent burial shall be liable under Section 297 of The Indian Penal Code, which speaks about Trespassing on burial places. The fundamental right to life and personal liberty which has been guaranteed under.

Article 21: A Life Insurance?
The term 'Life Insurance' is truly in consonant with Article 21 here in this context. It can be said that Article 21 is also a form of Zindagi ke sath bhi, Zindagi ke baad bhi (in life, and after life). The intention behind correlating Article 21 with life insurance is to signify that it doesn't bestow the right to life only but makes sure that the right of a person must be protected after life as well ensuring the protection of all the rights uttered under Article 21 such as the Right to privacy, the right of dignity and fair treatment and of course, the right to a decent burial.

Different courts have extended and revised the scope of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution by making the right of cremation with dignity inseparable from the right to life in different decisions and have repetitively recognised the need to give equitable care to a dead body (human corpse) after death and doing so with proper dignity.

One of the first cases where the scope of Article 21 was expanded to embrace the dignity of a person was P. Rathinam v. The Union of India in which the Supreme Court had stressed that the right to life implies a meaningful life with human dignity, not just an animal life. This right to dignity was also extended to a person who is dead.

In the case of Common Cause (A Regd. Society) vs Union Of India, it was contended that the right to life, which includes the right to live with dignity, means that this right exists until the death of a person which covers the right to a decent life up to death, including a decent death procedure.

It is worth getting know that not only the Right to a decent burial, but as per the religious rules is also a fundamental right. And the same has been reiterated by the Supreme court in the AshrayAdhikar Abhiyan v. Union of India in which the supreme court reaffirmed that the dignity of the dead ought to be preserved and honoured. It also extended the right to appropriate cremations according to the religious customs of homeless deceased people.

In Vikash Chandra Guddu Baba v. The Union of India &Ors Patna High Court ruled that the hospital staff and State officials must dispose unclaimed or unidentified dead corpses in full compliance with the law and, in the case that the latter is identifiable, the last rites should be performed to conformity with the deceased's recognised faith.

Furthermore, In the case of Pt. Parmanand Katara Vs. Union of India, it was upheld by the Supreme court that:
the word and expression 'person' in article 21, would include a dead person in a limited sense and that his rights to his life which includes his right to live with human dignity, to have an extended meaning to treat his dead body with respect and the State must respect a dead person by allowing the body of that dead person to be treated with dignity.

It clearly mentions that the government is also obligated to protect the right to a decent burial with human dignity as per the religious rules.

Authoring the interim order, Justice Sathyanarayanan also pointed out that Section 297 of the Indian Penal Code states it is a punishable offence to trespass into a burial ground or crematorium and cause indignity to the corpse or disturbance to performance of funeral rites.

Recent cases
In Pradeep Gandhy v. State of Maharashtra, the Bombay judicature unemployed a plea seeking a hold on the burials of Covid-19 infected victims and allowed the natural object to be buried, finding no reason why a Suo catchword vs. The State of Tamilnadu person's right to a respectful burial ought to be denied. Similarly, the Madras judicature dominated in this having an appropriate burial could be a basic right underneath Article 21.

The Kolkata judicature conjointly set in Vineet Ruia Vs The Principal Secretary, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Govt. of West Bengal & Ors that performing the ultimate rites of a Covid-19 victim is protected underneath Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. The court went on to mention that doing therefore within the context of tradition and culture is likewise a elementary right protected by article 25.

Furthermore, the Telangana judicature within the case of R. Sameer Ahmed v. State of Telangana & Ors remarked that:
Even in death, human bodies aren't being treated with the dignity they deserve" and directed the Government of state to let the court apprehend if the dead bodies being cremated/buried in an courtly manner or not.

WHO Tips On Burial, Cremation of Dead Bodies
WHO issued interim recommendations on infection bar and management for the safe care of a Dead Body within the context of COVID-19 on March twenty four, 2020. The directions were issued to everybody responsible of health-care facilities, further as spiritual and public-health officers, who had contact with COVID-19 patients who were doubted, got confirmed, or expired. the recommendation is meant to help out individuals.

First, we'll have a glance at the foremost vital side of WHO's Burial Guidelines:
  • COVID-19 victims will be buried or cremated in line with their spiritual beliefs and traditions.
  • Once the body is prepared for burial, relations and friends could read it. they ought to not, however, touch, kiss, or get shut contact to the body. they have to wash their hands utterly with soap and water once viewing the body.
  • Anyone World Health Organization is concerned within the method of hiding or cremating the dead ought to wear gloves and a mask. they have to conjointly eliminate their gloves (correctly) and wash their hands utterly with soap and water once the burial or incineration.
    Apart from these, the World Health Organization has issued some extra rules for burial by relations or once a diseased person dies reception.
  • Anyone getting ready (for example, cleaning, dressing the body, clipping nails, or shaving) the body of the human, whether or not a loved one or a spiritual leader, should follow all hygiene and sanitation norms throughout and once the burial.

COVID-19:Instructions ON Dead Body MANAGEMENT which were released by the govt. of Republic of India Ministry of Health & Family Welfare board General of Health Services (EMR Division):
  • Embalming (the method of conserving human or animal remains by treating them chemically to stop decomposition) isn't allowable
  • Autopsies ought to be avoided.
  • if associate degree autopsy is being performed for a particular cause, then appropriate infection bar and management ways should be followed.
  • The mortuary staff handling the COVID-19-infected natural object ought to take typical measures.
  • These bodies ought to be maintained in chambers with a temperature of roughly 4C.
  • Relatives could also be allowed to check the deceased body one last time by unzipping the face finish of the personnel pouch (as long because the personnel follows correct safeguards).
  • Important: the staff at the crematorium or the burial burying ground should be created aware that COVID nineteen poses no extra risk.
  • As a social distancing precaution, giant gatherings at the crematorium/burial ground ought to be avoided since a detailed family contact could also be a suspect of COVID-19 virus or symptomatic thereto.
  • Important: The ash is safe to handle and may be used for final rituals.
  • Spiritual ceremonies that don't necessitate touching the body, like reading from spiritual texts, sprinkling water, and different last rites, could also be allowable.

After delicately examining these recommendations and frameworks, it's evident that the goal of the rules was to dispel myths and dishonest data concerning the protection risks that arise throughout the burial or incineration procedure.

Also, one among the points value appreciating concerning these tips is that they fight their limit to permit the spiritual practices to be followed that don't cause threat to different lives, then that with correct precautions and use of private protection instrumentation, the voters of the country don't need to compromise with their elementary Right to faith as given on them as per Article twenty five of the Indian Constitution.

Conclusion:
Concluding all the opposite discussions of this text, here square measure the key pointers supported every and each heading:
  • The Right to burial is secure underneath Article 21 Right to Life.
  • We, as members of the society, owe a obligation at hand out a good burial or incineration to a patient World Health Organization was infected with COVID-19 virus.
  • Each Burial and incineration square measure safe approaches (as per the studies conducted until now), as long as correct measure taken with personal protection instrumentation.
  • It's needless debate concerning whether or not burial could be a safer follow or incineration. Rather, we require to ingeminate the rules and frameworks issued by the World Health Organization and native health authorities.
  • Article 25 of the Constitution provides Right to faith however is subjected to Public Health. Thus, Public Health shall take priority over spiritual Practices. This doesn't mean that the state will compromise with the basic right certain to the voters of our country.
  • World Health Organization and Ministry of Health tips should be browse, and awareness ought to be there relating to these frameworks. These tips square measure structured in an exceedingly method that ensures a balance between the rights of individuals and insurance of public safety and public health.
  • The existing instructions are currently old and don't take into thought this current death percent in the country, that makes it ineffective to some extent.
  • There is an desperate need for enactment of laws and facilities which is able to guarantee correct management of burial or crematoria places.
References:
  • https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/331538/WHO-COVID-19-lPC_DBMgmt-2020.1-eng.pdf
  • http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/47409240.cms?utm_source=contentofinterest&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=cppst
  • https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/331538/WHO-COVID-19-lPC_DBMgmt-2020.1-eng.pdf
  • https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/burial-or-cremation-what-is-a-safer-funeral-if-someone-dies-of-covid19-1668257-2020-04-18
  • https://www.moneycontrol.com/news/coronavirus/covid-19-lets-not-deny-the-right-to-a-decent-burial-5218391.html
  • https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/05/01/848956806/fearing-infection-some-in-indonesia-refuse-nearby-burial-of-covid-19-victim

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