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Allow Kin to Perform Last Rites of Covid Victims: Calcutta High Court

The court said that the right to dignity is not only available to a living person but also to his body after his demise

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GUWAHATI: The Calcutta High Court observing that even a deceased has the right to dignity and fair treatment, directed that the body of a COVID-19 patient should be handed over to the family for cremation after completion of hospital formalities, provided post mortem of the dead body is not required.

The court said that the right to dignity and fair treatment under Article 21 of the Constitution is not only available to a living person but also to his body after his demise.

“We are inclined to interpret the phrase ‘dignified procedure of death’ in an expansive manner so as to include dignified disposal of the human remains of a deceased,” a division bench comprising Chief Justice TBN Radhakrishnan and Justice Arijit Banerjee said.

It directed that the body should be secured in a body bag, the face end of which should be preferably transparent.

“Disposal of a human body, whether or not the person dies of COVID-19, whether by cremation or burial, should be done with due respect and solemness,” the court observed.

The court ordered that the face end of the body may be unzipped by the staff at the crematorium or burial ground to allow the relatives to see the body for one last time.

Responding to a PIL, the division bench directed that the government should prescribe additional reasonable measures as may be advised by medical experts.