New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday declined to entertain a plea seeking directions to frame a policy to protect the rights of the dead and controlling the overcharging for cremations, burials for Covid-affected bodies and also ambulance services.
Granting the liberty to the petitioner’s counsel to move the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), a bench comprising Justices Nageswara Rao and Hemant Gupta said, “The problem you are raising is serious problem we agree, but luckily the situation is not that now. Go to National Human Rights Commission…NHRC will take care of issues.”
During the hearing, advocate appearing for the petitioner, contended that directions are being sought for a policy to protect rights of the dead, in the backdrop of incidents of bodies being found in the river Ganga. The counsel argued that petitioner’s organisation took up the issue before the High Court but the needful has not been done so far.
The bench responded, “NHRC was asked to respond. You go to the NHRC. How many forums will you approach? You have already approached High Court. The High Court gave a direction. NHRC has interfered”. The bench emphasized that the issues raised in the plea are serious and the NHRC is the appropriate forum to examine the matter.
NGO Trust Distress Management Collective filed a plea stressing enactment of a specific legislation, which protects the rights of the dead. The plea also urged the top court to issue guidelines to all the states and UTs to prescribe rates for cremations and ambulance services along with penal actions for non-compliance at the earliest.
The plea also cited the NHRC advisory issued on May 14, for upholding the dignity and protecting the rights of the dead, whereby 11 recommendations have been given to the Centre and all the states and UTs.
The plea also highlighted the overcharging being practiced by crematoriums and ambulance service providers, and argued it was directly connected with the news of bodies being dumped in the River Ganga.