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Sea Change in Covid-19 Situation, Delhi HC Closes Proceedings Relating to Disposal of Bodies

The court was hearing a PIL initiated on its own after coming across news reports about a lack of facilities to cremate those who had died due to COVID-19. (News18 file)

The court was hearing a PIL initiated on its own after coming across news reports about a lack of facilities to cremate those who had died due to COVID-19. (News18 file)

The news reports had said the backlog in disposal of bodies was due to non-functioning of CNG furnaces at Nigambodh and Punjabi Bagh crematoriums

The Delhi High Court has closed proceedings initiated by it in 2020 relating to disposal of bodies of those who died of COVID-19, saying the situation has undergone a sea change with the passage of time and the matter has lost its relevance now.

The court was hearing a PIL initiated on its own after coming across news reports about a lack of facilities to cremate those who had died due to COVID-19, with their bodies piled up in hospitals, mortuaries and cremation grounds.

"The situation has undertaken a sea change with the passage of time and the present petition has, therefore, lost its relevancy in today's context. We, accordingly, close these proceedings at this stage," a bench of Acting Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Navin Chawla said in an order passed last week.

The court noted that in the background of a large number of deaths suffered due to the pandemic, certain orders have been passed from time to time and status reports were filed, and it appeared that certain steps have also been taken.

After taking cognisance of news reports, the high court had on May 28, 2020, initiated the public interest litigation (PIL) at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The news reports said a large number of bodies of Covid victims were lying in hospitals, mortuaries and cremation grounds due to shortage of sufficient facilities for funeral. An anguished high court had said if correct, the situation was "highly dissatisfactory and violative of the rights of the dead".

The court maintained it was pained at the state of affairs as reported in newspapers.

The news reports had said the backlog in disposal of bodies was due to non-functioning of CNG furnaces at Nigambodh and Punjabi Bagh crematoriums.

The Delhi government had informed the court that urgent steps were taken to remedy the situation.

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first published:April 13, 2022, 17:59 IST