Calcutta High Court Orders Post-Mortem of 18 Year Old Who Died Due to COVID -19

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In the case of Srabani Chatterjee & Anr. v. Tn, the State of West Bengal & Ors, the grieving parents of the deceased filed a petition. They claimed that their son died due to Medical Negligence of the Hospital. In the petition, they demand a post-mortem of their son’s body. They also asked permission to attend the cremation.

Brief Facts of the Case 

On 10th July 2020, the petitioner’s son came to Belgharia Midline Nursing Home. Here, a COVID-19 test was conductedon him. He tested positive for COVID-19.  The petitioners then took him to different hospitals for treatment. According to them, two hospitals refused to admit him. Finally, the Calcutta Medical College and Hospital admitted him. The Petitioner’s son expired on 10th July 2020 at about 9;45 P.M. The news of his death reached them only on 11th July.

Arguments of the Petitioner

The counsel for the petitioner submitted that their son died due to medical negligence. The counsel asked permission to conduct and attend their son’s cremation after post- mortem. He argued that parents can attend cremation as per clause 11, of the I.C.M.R guidelines. He submitted that this would ensure that the body gets handled properly. Also, He assured the Court that the petitioners would take all necessary precautions. 

Arguments of the Respondent

The Learned Advocate General appearing for the state submitted that the police had registered an F.I.R. They had lodged it on 12th July itselfHe submitted that the police are investigating the matter. He argued that the state was not averse to conducting a post- mortem. But, parents of the deceased cannot be allowed during the procedure. Further, the state had allowed them to attend the cremation though this was not mandated in the guidelines. He requested following of all the ICMR guidelines while conducting it. He also asked the petitioners to video graph and record the funeral. 

Decision of the Court

The Single Judge Bench of Justice Debangsu Basakhas denied the parent’s request. It did not allow petitioners presence during the autopsy. It also refused permission to go to the crematorium. The Court allowed the petitioners to conduct their son’s last rites along with all religious rituals. They ordered the petitioners and all other people to follow ICMR guidelines. It asked the petitioners to video record the whole process. The Court also refused petitioner’s request for being present in the cremation. It held that the state was ‘Reasonable’ in opposing the petitioner’s presence at COVID dedicated crematorium.

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