“Article 21 icludes right to have a decent burial”: Madras High Court takes cognizance on Mob attack against burial of Doctor died of COVID-19

April 21,2020

By Swastika Saxena

According to the Indian Constitution, a citizen of India has a right to Life (ARTICLE-21) which includes right to privacy, right to travel abroad , right to sleep etc and also includes  to have an extended meaning to treat his dead body with respect and to have a  decent and dignified cremation or burial .

Owing to the situation, Madras High Court on Monday issued a notice to guarantee right to burial under ARTICLE-21 (Right to life). Due to COVID-19 infection and also due to other health issues, a doctor who suffered a heart attack succumbed to death invited mass protests and denied his burial ,creating a law and order situation. As a consequence, his body was taken to VELANGADU and buried. Few local people attacked them and some public servants were also injured .

“In the considered opinion of the court the scope and the ambit of  right to life includes right to have a decent burial too.It prima facie appears  that a consequence of above mentioned acts, a person who practiced a noble profession as a doctor and breathed last , has been deprived of  his right , to have a burial, in a cemetery earmarked for that purpose and that apart, on account of law and order and public order problem created the officials who have performed their duties , appeared have sustained grievous injuries”.

“Citizens are not expected to take the law in their hands and if it is  so, would definitely lead to anarchy. There is likelihood of similar kind of incidents  to occur in future also”, the bench said.

The bench even refereed  to section 297, IPC which prescribes  punishment for trespass on burial places, whoever with the intention of hurting the feelings  of any person , or religion, or that he is likely to do so commits trespass in any place of worship  or any place of sepulture or offers any indignity to human corpse shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one year , or fine or with both .The bench even refereed to the case of 1963(Kharak Singh )The provision equally prohibits any mutilation of the corpse or amputation of the arms  or leg or destruction of nay organ of the body .

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