Chennai: The Madras High Court on Friday dismissed a petition seeking to disinter mortal remains of a 55-year-old doctor, who died of COVID19 here, and bury it in another cemetery in the city as per his religious rights and customs.
A division bench of Justices M Sathyanarayanan and M Nirmal Kumar dismissed the petition by Sathiyanarayanan Selvanthan, a social activist, when it came up for hearing through video conference mode. The bench in its order said the plea was not maintainable
for the reason that a similar request made by the wife of the deceased has been rejected by the state government. "In the result, the writ petition stands dismissed at the admission stage itself.
However, if the family members of the deceased Medical Practitioner approach this Court by making a challenge to the said rejection order, this court would take a call in the said litigation," it said. The Chennai corporation authorities had turned down the
plea by the wife of the deceased for exhuming his body and burying it in another cemetery, citing health experts' view that it was unsafe to do so.
Earlier, the court took note of the violent protests by a mob against the burial of Simon Hercules, the neurosurgeon, in Kilpauk here and observed that a decent inter was a right under the Constitution and issued notices to the Tamil Nadu government and the DGP.
The doctor had succumbed to COVID -19 on April 19. The ambulance in which his body was carried was vandalized by some people, who falsely feared that the burial in Kilpauk cemetery may lead to the spread of contagion in that area. The mob had attacked the corporation health employees and associates of the deceased doctor.
The doctor's wife and son also had to leave the burial ground in view of the violence. Later, the body was taken to another crematorium and buried amid police security. Over a dozen men involved allegedly in violence were arrested and remanded to judicial custody.
Referring to the violent protests during the burial of the doctor's body, the petitioner said it was "very distressing" and such acts by certain people amount to obstruction of right for a decent burial. The petitioner submitted that as per our tradition and
culture, dignity should be extended to the dead. Observing that late Simon Hercules deserved a dignified burial, he alleged that the burial was done at Velangadu crematorium indecently and in a hasty manner.
He further submitted that the morale of the doctors and healthcare workers, who are on the frontline in the fight against COVID19 should never be put down. Hence, he sought a direction from the court to take necessary steps to ensure the decent burial of Simon Hercules by disinterring his mortal remains from Velangadu crematorium and interring it in Kilpauk cemetery as per his religious rights and customs.