The Bombay High Court on Friday said that the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation can designate any cemetery or burial ground for disposing bodies of Covid-19 victims and added that there is no scientific study to show that coronavirus spreads through dead bodies, according to PTI.
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice SS Shinde made the observations while dismissing petitions filed by four Bandra residents, challenging the validity of an April 9 civic body circular. In the circular, the Mumbai civic body had identified some Muslim cemeteries in Bandra for burying Covid-19 patients, the Hindustan Times reported.
Advocate Pratap Nimbalkar represented the Navpada Masjid, Bandra and Santacruz Golibar Dargah Trust that manages these private cemeteries.
In their plea, the petitioners said that on March 30, the BMC decided to cremate all bodies of coronavirus victims at the nearest crematorium, irrespective of their religion. “The decision was taken as the burial grounds in Mumbai are in densely-populated localities, with high chances of contamination [of Covid-19] in residential areas nearby,” they said.
The April 9 circular was in contrast to the March 30 decision, the plea said. They asked the court to restrain the BMC from burying any coronavirus victim in these three cemeteries.
The state government said: “It is well established and declared by the World Health Organization that coronavirus is not air bound and hence transmission of the virus to other people staying in the vicinity of the burial ground is highly impossible.”
The court also noted that the April 9 circular was in consonance with the law. It said that the corporation and authorities have to follow the Centre’s and the WHO guidelines for the safe disposal of bodies infected with Covid-19. Earlier this week, the civic body had told the court in an affidavit that coronavirus does not spread through corpses and that it was following the proper guidelines to dispose of such bodies.
Despite the WHO and Centre’s guidelines, there have been several cases where people have opposed to burial or cremation of Covid-19 patients. In some cases, doctors and police personnel have been attacked.
On May 7, 71 people were arrested in Gujarat’s Anand district for violence after they disrupted the cremation of a man who died of the coronavirus. On May 6, a first information report was filed against four people at Bandra police station for allegedly opposing the burial of a coronavirus patient at the Konkani Kabrastan.
On May 1, 14 people were arrested in Chennai for attacking doctors and health workers during the burial of a neurosurgeon who died of Covid-19. They were charged under the stringent Goondas Act that is meant to be invoked against habitual offenders.
Mumbai is one of the worst-hit cities due to the outbreak of the coronavirus. Till Thursday evening, the city recorded 25,317 cases and 882 deaths.