Disposal of Covid bodies: Maharashtra to file its affidavit in HC

The Bombay high court on Monday directed the state government to file an affidavit to deal individually with 10 instances of alleged negligence in disposal of bodies of Covid patients in many hospitals in the state. The HC also asked the state to inform what arrangements would be made to compensate victims’ families, even if they were from municipal hospitals.
The order was in a PIL by BJP MLA Ashish Shelar, alleging callousness in disposing Covid patients’ bodies. The HC called for another affidavit with details by November 4, as Shelar’s senior counsel Rajendra said the state hadn’t dealt with all allegations.
The HC bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish Kulkarni said, “We make it clear that even if all hospitals where the unfortunate deaths occurred are not run by the state, nothing would prevent the state from accessing information from the authority in charge of administration there placing on record all relevant factual details.”
The HC noted that the “larger issue raised in the PIL regarding proper management of Covid victims’ bodies is also pending adjudication in Supreme Court”, and said it was inclined to keep the question of such issues in abeyance till the SC passes an order. But it directed that in the meantime “the state may, in addition to the guidelines issued by the Union ministry of health & family welfare, dated March 15, 2020, on body management in the context of Covid, follow additional guidelines laid down by a division Bench of Calcutta high court which had on September 16 directed that bodies be handed over to the family for last rites.
The HC also gave Shelar liberty to suggest additional guidelines for management of bodies in Maharashtra and share it with additional government pleader Kedar Dighe and posted the PIL for hearing next on November 23.

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