Delhi HC anguished over 'no dignity' to the dead in mortuaries

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday expressed anguish over authorities in the national capital not giving dignified treatment to the dead saying this was "pathetic".

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Wednesday expressed anguish over authorities in the national capital not giving dignified treatment to the dead saying this was "pathetic".

"We don't give dignity to those who are alive. Don't give dignity to the dead. No dignity period. Pathetic," a bench of justices Badar Durrez Ahmed and Sanjeev Sachdeva said while dealing with a PIL initiated by the court after a murder accused died while in custody and an eye went missing while the body was kept in the mortuary.

The court made the observation after perusing a report which said most mortuaries in the hospitals run by Delhi government and municipal corporations were not even maintaining the basic standards.

"We have money for everything, but not for maintaining dignity of the dead," the court said.

Displeased over the "pathetic state" of mortuaries and treatment of bodies, Justice Ahmed asked "Would you like it if the body of your family member was eaten by rodents? I know I won't".

The court also asked the authorities why they can't maintain proper standards if private hospitals, like Max Balaji, can do it.

Amicus curiae Saqib, in his report, told the court that the hygiene and cooling chambers in the mortuary at Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital, a super specialty which is affiliated with University College of Medical Sciences of Delhi University, was "extremely pathetic".

Saqib had also visited Rajan Babu TB hospital as well as Swami Dayanand Hospital to inspect the mortuaries there.

While at Rajan Babu the mortuary was locked and found to be maintained by a semi-literate employee of Sulabh which has been contracted for the job, the one at Swami Dayanand was found lacking cleanliness and easily accessible by stray animals, his report said.

The court has given the corporations and the Delhi government to "put their house in order" and asked the amicus to again inspect the hospitals and submit his status report before September 16. In his report, the amicus said that the mortuary being run by Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital (LNJP) was maintaining the basic standards and complying with all the guidelines.

After perusing the report, the court expressed displeasure over locking of the mortuary, saying "on the one hand 29 bodies were dumped on the road and on the other mortuary is locked. What is this?"

The court was referring to a news report which said 29 bodies were dumped outside the mortuary of Aruna Asaf Ali Hospital.

In today's order, the court also directed the authorities to comply with its earlier direction with regard to appointing nodal officers to coordinate between jail hospital and referral hospitals outside the prison on providing treatment to inmates.

It also ordered compliance of its direction with regard to procuring more prison vans to ferry inmates to and from hospitals.

On the issue of giving compensation to kin of the accused who died in custody while undergoing treatment at Rajan Babu TB Hospital, the court directed the government to "tackle" the issue before next date of hearing.

It also directed the government to give an adequate reply within two weeks to the complaint filed on behalf of the murder accused's family regarding his death in custody.

The accused died allegedly due to tuberculosis while in judicial custody and then one eye of the deceased had gone missing while the body was kept in the mortuary. 

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