June 11, 2020

Former Law Minister Ashwani Kumar writes to CJI seeking action against ill-treatment of Covid-19 victims

[ by Legal Era News Network ]


Former Law Minister and Senior Advocate Dr. Ashwani Kumar has written to Chief Justice of India (CJI) Sharad Bobde wherein he urged the CJI to take suo motu cognizance of reports that coronavirus patients are being ill-treated and dead bodies manhandled in hospitals.

Dr. Ashwani Kumar has specifically highlighted a couple of incidents from Madhya Pradesh and Puducherry. After an elderly man failed to pay the hospital expenses of his treatment at a hospital in the state of Madhya Pradesh, he was allegedly chained to a bed.

In the letter he stated, “The tragic and condemnable sight of a Covid-19 patient being chained to a bed in a hospital in Madhya Pradesh and another sight in Puducherry of a dead body being thrown in a pit for burial, has shocked the conscience of the Republic committed to human dignity under the Constitution, which recognizes dignity as a core constitutional value at the pinnacle in the hierarchy of non-negotiable constitutional rights.”

He pointed out that such incidents were a grave infraction of the citizen’s right to die with dignity, recognized by the Supreme Court on various occasions. He raised concerns over the piling up of dead bodies in hospitals and mortuaries, the non-availability of cremation or burial grounds as also the reported non-functioning of electric crematoriums amount to violation of Right to Die with dignity.

Dr. Kumar also pointed out that the Supreme Court and different high courts have in the past given judgements declaring that the right to die with dignity and right to decent burial or cremation is fundamental. He stated that the Court has the duty and the power to ensure that the law declared by it is actually enforced, and requested that the Court takes suo motu notice of the matter. Recently, Delhi High Court took suo motu cognizance in a matter where the Court learnt from a news report about the manhandling of bodies of people who had died of Covid-19 at mortuaries and crematoriums. The Court had directed the Delhi Government to file a reply in the matter and provide guidelines on proper disposal of bodies of Covid-19 patients.

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