Calcutta HC directs West Bengal govt to follow WHO, Centre guidelines for Covid-19 patients

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Calcutta High Court on Tuesday directed the West Bengal government to follow the guidelines of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Government of India during cremating or burying the dead bodies of Covid-19 patients.

In a special hearing via video conferencing, Justice Tapabrata Chakraborty directed the state to ensure that patients were given death certificates before the protocol was followed.

The high court order states: “To ensure containment of the virus to the extent possible and at the same time to minimize the anxiety, agony and the threat perception, as an interim measure, this court directs the respondents to take all necessary steps strictly in consonance with the guidelines issued by the authorities, as annexed to the present writ petition.”

“On the returnable date, the respondent no. 5 shall file a report in the form of an affidavit apprising this Court about the developments and the steps taken. List this matter for further consideration on 8th June, 2020,” it further stated.

The court issued directions after hearing a writ petition filed by Senior Counsel Smarajit Roy Chowdhury who had cited an example of a case in Howrah, which is a red zone.

Smarajit Roy Chowdhury’s writ petition, filed on April 12, states: “Adjacent to the petitioner’s residence, there is a graveyard and that on April 3, 2020, the local administration allowed the dead body of one Basarat Mollah, who expired due to the virus attack, to be buried though no death certificate was produced.”

Such action was derogatory to the guidelines issued by the World Health Organization pertaining to the “Infection Prevention and Control for the Safe Management of a Dead Body in the Context of COVID-19”.

In support of such contention, he has drawn the attention of the court to the averments made in paragraphs 12 to 15 of the writ petition. Smarajit Roy Chowdhury also informed the court that the Howrah district has recently been declared as a “hotspot” area.

Interestingly, there was no one on behalf of the government in the hearing on the matter.

The petitioner also alleged that the state authorities have not taken appropriate steps as per the directives contained in the various orders as annexed to the writ petition.

Even the grievances were flagged to the authorities through a representation. However, the same has not been considered to date and proper steps have not been taken by the authorities, he alleged.

There has been recently a great hue and cry about the disposing of the bodies of Covid-19 patients in West Bengal including allegations of the basic protocol for the same not being followed like issuing of a death certificate and cremating or burying the bodies at only specified locations to avoid any further spread.

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About the author: Sohom Das
Founder of Tuccho.

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