Delhi HC closes case for transportation, cremation of COVID-19 victims
New Delhi, Sep 14 PTIThe Delhi High Court on Wednesday closed a case concerning infrastructure for the transportation and cremation of those who died of COVID-19 while noting that the pandemic was almost over.The petitioner, a lawyer, however, urged the court to impose a cost of Rs 10 lakh on the city government for failing to even file a response to the issue, claiming that it waited for the public interest litigation PIL - filed in May 2021 to become infructuous and condemned such a callous response from the authorities.State has not even filed an affidavit.
The Delhi High Court on Wednesday closed a case concerning infrastructure for the transportation and cremation of those who died of COVID-19 while noting that the pandemic was almost over.
The petitioner, a lawyer, however, urged the court to impose a cost of Rs 10 lakh on the city government for failing to even file a response to the issue, claiming that it waited for the public interest litigation (PIL) -– filed in May 2021 – to become infructuous and condemned such a "callous response" from the authorities.
"State has not even filed an affidavit. This petition has become infructuous. The state was waiting for my petition to become infructuous. My appeal is to impose costs. The state was waiting. Citizens do not deserve a such callous response from the state. Please put a heavy fine, huge cost on State and dismiss my petition as withdrawn," petitioner Mujeeb Ur Rehman submitted before a bench headed by Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma.
In response to the court's query on the amount of cost that should be imposed on the Delhi government, the petitioner said, "Rs 10 lakh, your honour" and further said, "any cost (any be imposed) to justify (the government's conduct) even if it is Rs 1." While refraining from passing a direction imposing any cost, the bench, also comprising Justice Subramonium Prasad, noted that the petition was filed when the COVID-19 pandemic was at its peak and opined that no further orders were called for at this stage.
"In light of the aforesaid as COVID-19 pandemic is almost over, no further order is required to be passed on the petition. However liberty is granted to take recourse to remedies available under the law in case the need arises in future," ordered the court as it added, "But such need should not arise." The court, in its order, also recorded that as per the Delhi government the pandemic was almost over and a telephone helpline was in existence to provide assistance to those in need.
Facilities are provided to the city residents for transporting the dead bodies not only in case of deaths from COVID-19 but in other cases too, the government said as it prayed that the petition be disposed of for being infructuous. The high court had, on May 17, 2021, sought the Delhi government's stand on the PIL to direct the city government to formulate and implement a plan for having sufficient infrastructure concerning the transportation and cremation of the bodies of COVID-19 victims.
The plea also sought the setting up of a sufficient number of mortuaries to store the bodies of the large number of people dying of the viral disease.
The petitioner had claimed that apart from a lack of medical facilities, the people of Delhi were suffering from the absence of a sufficient number of mortuaries, transportation facilities, and space for cremation or burial.
The plea had referred to the plight of a man, whose parents succumbed to the infection while at home, and for almost a day, he could not get any help in performing the last rites as the neighbours were afraid of getting infected.
By the time he received any aid, the bodies had started to decay, the petition claimed.
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