After 11 months of his death, the Madras High Court on Wednesay ordered the exhumation of the body of Dr Simon Hercules, who had been treating Covid patients and fell victim to the virus in April last year. The remains should be exhumed from the Velangadu burial ground and re-buried at the Kilpauk Cemetery, Justice Abdul Quddhose gave the direction while allowing a writ petition from Simon's wife Anandi.
All the COVID-19 protocols imposed by the Central and State governments from time to time will have to be necessarily followed while exhuming the body and re-burying the same at the Cemetery and while performing religious ceremonies by the family members, the judge said.
Sufficient police protection shall be provided, both at Velangadu burial ground and Kilpauk Cemetery for the smooth operation of the exhumation and the re-burial process, the judge added. The Health Officer nominated by the Greater Chennai Corporation shall be present and supervise the exhumation.
This is to ensure that all procedures are complied with and everyone present shows respect to the victim at all times and public health is protected. The judge said that the death of Simon is a shocking one as the incident had given a go-by to all human values. His corpse was shunted from one burial ground to another due to the objections raised by heartless human beings for allowing the burial of the body of a COVID-19 victim. Ultimately, he was buried in a place where people belonged to another faith.
The court, after examining the safeguards adopted in foreign countries, observed that till such time a legislation on exhumation comes in place in India, the same safeguards shall be followed while exhuming Simon's body.
The exhumation should start as early as possible in the morning to ensure maximum privacy. Screens should be placed around the existing grave/burial plot to protect the exhumation from public view and to guarantee privacy. Workers must treat the neighbouring burial plots with care.
Disinfectants and disposable protective clothing (including respiratory facemasks) must be made available to the workers and disposed of safely after the exhumation. All remains and pieces of casket, webbing etc., are placed in the new casket (shell). Videography of the exhumation and re-burial process shall be done.
Allowing the petition, the judge quashed the April 24, 2020 order of the GCC Commissioner, rejecting Anandi's plea for exhumation of her husband's body and re-bury it at the Kilpauk cemetry.
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