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Bombay High Court Stresses Importance of Respectful Last Rites, BMC Under Fire for Delay

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The Bombay High Court emphasized the significance of respectful last rites, stating that the dignity of a deceased individual is as paramount as other fundamental rights. This observation came during a PIL hearing seeking additional burial grounds for the eastern suburbs of Mumbai.

Expressing frustration, the High Court raised concerns about the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC)’s inability to secure a plot for a burial ground since November. The court questioned whether people should resort to extreme measures like burial on Mars, highlighting the urgency of the situation.

A division bench led by Chief Justice D K Upadhyaya and Justice Amit Borkar reprimanded the BMC for neglecting its duty to provide adequate burial spaces in Mumbai’s eastern suburbs for over two years. The court stressed that the civic authorities cannot evade their responsibility in ensuring respectful disposal of the dead.

The PIL, filed by residents of Govandi – Shamsher Ahmed, Abrar Chaudhari, and Abdul Rehman Shah, highlighted the need for additional burial grounds. Three proposed locations were suggested, including areas near Deonar and Rafiq Nagar, and Anik village, adjacent to a Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd (HPCL) refinery.

According to BMC, the Deonar and Rafiq Nagar sites were deemed unsuitable for burial grounds. This led the bench to question the delay in finding a suitable plot and the consequences for the deceased without access to proper burial spaces.

The Bombay High Court has continuously urged authorities to expedite the allocation of burial grounds in the mentioned locations. Despite court orders, BMC’s progress has been lacking, prompting the court to summon the BMC commissioner personally to address the issue.

The court instructed the BMC commissioner to oversee the matter and direct officials to identify a new plot within a three-kilometer radius of Rafiq Nagar for a burial ground. A personal affidavit detailing the steps to comply with the court’s orders is required to be submitted by the next hearing on June 21.

The High Court scheduled further proceedings on June 21 to monitor the progress and implementation of the directives concerning additional burial grounds for Mumbai’s eastern suburbs.

Rachel Adams

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