Allow mortal remains of Indian expats who died of non-COVID-19 causes to be brought back without MHA NOC: Plea in Supreme Court

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logoAn NGO, Pravasi Legal Cell, has filed a plea through Advocate Jose Abraham in the Supreme Court for a direction to the Centre to take steps for bringing back mortal remains of the Indian citizens died due to accidents or other non-COVID-19 reasons, the petition states that such bodies of Indian expatriates – especially from Gulf countries like Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, UAE, and Saudi Arabia – who died due to causes other than COVID-19, cannot be brought back to India.

The petition mentioned, that at this critical stage the unusual process of demanding no- objection certificate by the authorities here in India makes the whole repatriation a tedious process.

As a result of this, a number of bodies of Indian citizens who died of non-COVID-19 aliments are lying abandoned at airports especially in countries like Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, UAE and Saudi Arabia the petition said. The plea stated this would clearly amount to the denial of repatriation of the body of the Indian expatriate to the country for decent burial or cremation which is clearly in violation of the fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 21 of the constitution of India.

“Denial of repatriation of body of Indian expatriate to the country for decent burial/cremation is clearly in violation of fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution,”. The petitioner also pointed out the Supreme Court has time and again held that the right to decent burial is a facet of right to life and the right to dignity and fair treatment under Article 21 of the Constitution was not only available to a living person, but also to his or her body after death. – ANI REPORT.

The plea further, cited the case of one Varghese Philip, who died on April 16 at the Kuwait Cancer Centre due to sudden cardiac arrest, and one Vinod M.V., who died at the Al-Adan Hospital in Kuwait due to bleeding in the brain owing to high blood pressure.

The cause of death in both the cases was registered by the Ministry of Public Health, Kuwait, and embalmment certificates of the bodies were also issued. However, the Embassy of India in Kuwait has not issued a ‘clearance certificate’ citing the absence of a no-objection certificate from the MHA, the plea claimed.

This is the third PIL by the NGO this month. It had earlier sought a direction to the Union government to bring back Indian migrants stranded in Gulf countries, on the emergence of COVID-19. It filed a plea for a direction to the domestic and international flight operators to refund the full amount of ticket of the flights canceled during the period of lockdown.

In the instant petition, the NGO again sought a direction to rescue and bring back the Indian migrants stranded in Gulf countries, living in vulnerable conditions in labor accommodations. It also asked the court to direct the government to ensure food and adequate medical facilities for them.

Reported by: Amritesh Panda

Relevant sources-

  1. ANI- https://www.aninews.in/news/national/general-news/plea-in-sc-for-bringing-back-remains-of-indian-citizens-who-died-of-non-covid-ailments-abroad20200425155539/
  2. Times of India – https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/plea-in-sc-for-bringing-back-remains-of-indian-citizens-who-died-of-non-covid-ailments-abroad/articleshow/75376040.cms
  3. Twitter page of Pravasi legal cell- https://twitter.com/pravasilegalcel?lang=en
  4. News 18 – https://www.news18.com/news/india/plea-in-sc-to-bring-back-mortal-remains-of-nris-who-died-of-non-covid-19-ailments-2592953.html
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