Right of a dead body
“The right to die with dignity is a fundamental universal right of all living creatures.”
― Tripsy South
Article 21 not only provides the right to live which is not just limited to mere animal existence but also includes the right to live with dignity, Overtime period it has been ruled in various judgments that right to proper treatment, right to live and right to dignity also extends to the body of a deceased person. The term “person” in article 21 also includes a dead body in a very narrow sense. The right to decent burial is recognized under the common law of all countries. There are enough international conventions to support the same. Article 16 of the Geneva convention 1949 calls for the protection of the dead against any ill-treatment the same and article 17 calls for the transportation of the remains of the dead to the home country. Dead remains include ashes. The 2005 resolution of UNHRC called for handling dead remains with dignity, including management, disposal, and respect for the needs of next of kin.
In the case of Ashray Adhikar Abhiyan v. Union of India, the court imposed the duty on the state to ensure that the deceased person gets a proper funeral according to the religion. A letter was written which highlighted the concern that when homeless persons die they are not given a proper funeral. The letter was treated as a writ petition and the matter was taken up by the court. The counsel appearing for MCD submitted that police reach the spot when the news of an unclaimed dead body arises. Efforts are made to identify the dead body. The photograph is sent across the country through newspapers, it is given to the missing person squad, etc. After all the attempts are made if nobody claims the dead body the body is taken to an electronic crematorium if the dead body is identified as Muslim then it is buried. The petition was disposed of accordingly.
Section 297 of the Indian penal code punishes a person for a term extending to one year or fine or both if someone is found guilty of intentionally or by knowledge of insulting any religion causing trespass to the burial ground or funeral sites etc. When a body is covered on the open property, it turns into the property of and stays in the authority of the law. These dead bodies are not to be disturbed and are to stay in harmony. The court is commanded to ensure these dead bodies against any disinterment or unsettling influence.
With the onset of the pandemic, there has been a significant rise in the number of deaths in the country. It was observed everywhere that people due to the fear of the spread of the virus were causing disruptions during the funeral of a person who died due to Covid- 19. Last year people had raised objections to the burial of a doctor who died due to Covid. The Madras high court stressed the fact that the right to decent burial is a fundamental right under Article 21 of the Indian constitution. The court emphasized the fact that both the Centre and Ministry of health and family welfare had issued guidelines to be followed while managing the dead bodies of Covid infected patients. Hence the residents were warned with legal actions if such an act was repeated in the future. Recently several dead bodies were found floating in the river Ganga due to which the National Human rights commission has also issued an advisory that called for upholding the dignity of the deceased.
I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.
If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.
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