Dead Bodies’ Disposal Is a Constitutional & Statutory Responsibility of Government When Cannot Be Carried by Family: Calcutta High Court

Case: Lakshmikanta Lagar & Ors. v. The State of West Bengal & Ors. [WPA 7051 of 2020 with IA no: CAN 1 of 2020]

Excerpt

The Calcutta High Court on 2nd March 2021 directed the State Government to take appropriate steps for the installation of the electric chulli (electric crematorium) in a particular locality of the state for the public utility.

Facts

The instant plea was filed seeking the installation of an electric chulli for locality because it was essential for the larger public interest in managing right to life and connected issues particularly, quick and decent disposal of human remains or dead bodies.

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At the last hearing, the court remarked that the area was being inhabited by people who were socially or economically marginalized and thus, there could be no discrimination based on caste, creed, colour, sex or economic status in enjoying the last fundamental right available on earth as part of the right to life. Further, the Court believed that no department would delay the grant of such sanctions and also provide funds for the inexcusable need for human existence as the Government cannot fix any timeframe for the continued existence of any human being.

Argument’s advanced

The State’s Counsel contended that the installation of electric chulli should be installed within a couple of weeks.

Court’s observations

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The Hon’ble Court ruled that disposal of dead bodies wasn’t a long draw matter of policy-making as human death was one of the surest things on Earth.

Thus, the Bench of Chief Justice Thottathil B. Radhakrishnan and Justice Arijit Banerjee observed that it was the constitutional and statutory responsibility of the Government or the local self-government to dispose of dead bodies in case they weren’t being cared for by the near and dear ones.

Further, the Court also remarked that socio-economic criteria could never be an identifiable indicium to differentially treat human remains and thus directed the District Magistrate and the officials to take suitable actions without any further delay, in installing electric chulli for the public benefit.

Judgement

The Hon’ble Court listed the petition for further hearing on 16th March 2021, with the directions to the authorities to take appropriate steps in the matter without fail within a period of a fortnight. 


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