The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on 14 May 2021 issued an advisory to the Centre and States.
The advisory was issued on upholding the dignity and protecting the rights of the dead” in view of the “large number of deaths during this second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and the challenges in management of the bodies.”
The advisory comes after several bodies, suspected to be of those who died of COVID-19, have been found floating in the Ganga in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh in the past few days.
Recommendations by NHRC:
- The Union Home Affairs and Health and Family Welfare Ministries and Chief Secretaries of States are to implement the recommendations.
- The recommendations by NHRC include enacting of a specific legislation to protect the rights of the dead, adding that “mass burial or cremation should not be allowed to take place as it is in violation of the right to dignity of the dead”.
- The hospital administration should be explicitly prohibited from deliberately retaining any dead body on the count of pending bill payment.
- The unclaimed bodies must be stored under safe conditions
- Allow those last rites that do not require touching the bodies.
- In cases where families are not in a position to perform the last rites, the state or local administration may do so.
- Set up temporary crematoriums to avoid delay.
- Sensitize the staff at crematoriums, burial grounds, and cemeteries about proper handling of bodies. The staff should be given safety equipment and they should be vaccinated on priority and fairly paid.
- Encourage the use of electric crematoriums to avoid health hazards posed by smoke from burning pyres.
- Piling of bodies during transportation or at any other place must not be allowed.
- Proper identification of bodies must be done, as also handling of information on the diseased.
- Curbing arbitrary hikes in ambulance or hearse charges.
- The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) of India is a Statutory public body constituted on 12 October 1993 under the Protection of Human Rights Ordinance of 28 September 1993.
- The NHRC is the National Human Rights Commission of India.
- It was given a statutory basis by the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 (PHRA).
- Section 2(1)(d) of the PHRA defines Human Rights as the rights relating to life, liberty, equality, and dignity of the individual guaranteed by the Constitution or embodied in the International Covenants and enforceable by courts in India.
- The current Acting Chairperson is Shri Justice Prafulla Chandra Pant