Recently, The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had informed the Bureau of Immigration that arrival of corpses and remains of Indian nationals/OCI cardholders from foreign countries are allowed; depending on directions issued by various departments in relation to COVID-19 management. In a recent case before the Delhi High Court, the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare informed the Delhi High Court, of a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP). For the reason of bringing back mortal remains of citizens who have died abroad.
PIL- Bring back mortal remains
The petitioner, Vimlesh Bhatt sought a direction to the respondent, Union of India. To send the mortal remains of his deceased brother from Abu Dhabi, UAE to India. Kamlesh Bhatt, aged 24 years was the younger brother of the petitioner, who suffered a cardiac arrest on April 17, 2020. In fact, the petitioner submitted that a No Objection Certificate was obtained from the Indian Embassy at Abu Dhabi; for shipping, the human remains. Henceforth, the same was also flown from Abu Dhabi to India in an aircraft.
The Petitioner argued, that even though the requisite clearances were available; the authorities did not permit the unloading of the remains at Delhi and were flown back on the same aircraft. Accordingly, the counsel for the petitioner stated that even though the family of the petitioner resides in India; they are not aware of the present state of the mortal remains.
The counsel for the respondents, Additional Solicitor General Maninder Acharya submitted that since it is a unique case; the Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare are presently framing the SOP. So as to ensure, there is no difficulty in similar matters in the future. Further, she submitted that a meeting is presently going on at the highest level to consider the case of the petitioner and she wanted some time to report about the same. Additionally, Acharya stated that the Central Government shall find out from the concerned Embassy as to the location and condition of the mortal remains of the deceased which were flown back from India. The respondents pleaded for hearing the matter on April 27, 2020, at 3.00 p.m. Accordingly, the Single Bench of Justice Sajeev Sachdeva agreed to hear the matter on April 27.