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New Delhi, June 11, 2020
The Supreme Court has taken suo motu cognizance of the issues of proper treatment of COVID-19 patients and dignified handling of dead bodies.
A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and M. R. Shah will conduct the hearing on the matter on Friday.
Chief Justice S. A. Bobde took cognizance of the letter written by senior advocate Dr. Ashwani Kumar, highlighting various incidents violating the citizen's right to die with dignity amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Kumar urged the Chief Justice to take suo motu notice of news reports on incidents, where persons infected with COVID-19 were ill-treated and the bodies of persons, who succumbed to the infection, were not handled in a dignified manner.
He cited an incident where an elderly man infected with COVID was tied to a bed, after he allegedly failed to clear dues for his treatment, and another where government workers allegedly threw the body of a COVID-19-positive man into a pit.
Kumar, in the letter, said: "The tragic and condemnable sight of a COVID-19 patient being chained to a bed in a hospital in Madhya Pradesh and another sight in Puducherry of a dead body being thrown in a pit for burial, has shocked the conscience of the Republic committed to human dignity under the Constitution, which recognizes dignity as a core constitutional value at the pinnacle in the hierarchy of non-negotiable constitutional rights."
He also raised concern over various reports of piling up of bodies in hospitals and mortuaries, and non-availability of cremation/burial facilities.
Kumar insisted all these incidents culminate into the disheartening and an unacceptable violation of right to die with dignity.