The Patna High Court on Thursday took note of a widely-shared video of a child trying to wake up his dead mother at Bihar’s Muzaffarpur railway station and described the episode as “shocking and unfortunate”, reported The Hindu.
The video that went viral earlier this week showed the child playing with a cloth covering his mother’s body as announcements of train arrivals and departures continued in the background. The woman, identified as Arbeena, had reportedly died of extreme heat, hunger and dehydration. They had arrived in Bihar from Gujarat in a special train for migrant labourers and her family claimed she had fallen sick on the train due to lack of food and water.
Patna High Court Chief Justice Sanjay Karol and Justice S Kumar mentioned a news report and said that the incident required intervention by the court “in exercise of our jurisdiction under Article 226 [power of High Courts to issue certain writs] and issue notice”.
The court further raised several matters that it said needed urgent attention. These included whether the postmortem was conducted and the cause of death ascertained. It asked whether the woman had evidently died of hunger, whether she was accompanied by anyone else and the action taken by authorities in the case, among other things.
“Were the last rights of the deceased performed as per the custom, tradition and the instructions issued by the government?” the court asked, according to NDTV. “Above all, who is now taking care of the children/sibling(s), who unfortunately lost their mother in these times of distress?”
Additional Advocate General SD Yadav, who represented the Bihar government, said the woman was “mentally unstable and had died a natural death” during the trip from Surat, Gujarat. He added that her relatives – her sister and brother-in-law – who accompanied the woman had confirmed the death. However, the woman’s father has refuted the claim that she was mentally disturbed.
The counsel added that no first information report or postmortem had been done after the incident. He said that the body was handed over to the family after statements were recorded at the station.
Yadav also said that the child was now in “safe custody” of Arbeena’s sister, adding that he would “personally pursue” follow-up on the case and ensure assistance. The court asked the state authorities to submit all the facts related to the case before the next hearing on June 3.