Fearing the risk of COVID-19 spreading through infected dead bodies, a Mumbai resident moved Supreme Court seeking a stay on burials being allowed in three cemeteries next to his residential area. Petitioner Pradeep Gandhy moved a Special leave petition; after the Bombay High Court on April 27 refused to stay the burials in three cemeteries of Bandra West. Jamiat-Ulama-i-Hind filed an intervention application in the petition filed before the Supreme Court.
Jamiat-Ulama-i-Hind has submitted that; “the burial of dead bodies is essential to the religion of Islam as well as in other religions such as Christianity. Such a right forms part of the right to practice one’s religion under Article 25 of the Constitution of India”. Additionally, the applicant submitted that according to the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare; on March 15, 2020, the main driver of transmission of COVID-19 is through droplets; that there is unlikely to be an increased risk of COVID infection from a dead body to health workers or family members. Provided, they follow standard precautions while handling such bodies.
Moreover, according to the World Health Organization guidelines; of March 24, 2020, dealing with the issue of burial of dead bodies of COVID 19 patients; it has been clarified that except in cases of haemorrhagic fevers and cholera, dead bodies are generally not infectious. The Applicant also draws international comparisons with USA, UK, Italy, Canada & Middle Eastern countries stating that; these countries have not highlighted such “increased risk of spread of COVID-19 virus.”