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The Hindu
The Hindu
Special Correspondent

Provide infra for night autopsy, HC tells govt.

The Kerala High Court on Thursday directed the State government to provide all infrastructure, including medical and paramedical staff, for conducting post-mortem examination at night in five medical college hospitals in the State.

The court observed that a decent burial, without unnecessary delay in legal formalities, immediately after the unnatural death of a person was also a Constitutional right.

Justice P.V. Kunhikrishnan, while passing the directive, observed that it was part of the fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution to live with dignity. This included not only the dignity of a person when he was alive but also that following his death. The State could not say there was no adequate infrastructure or insufficient staff in hospitals or financial difficulties for creating such additional facilities for early completion of legal formalities in unnatural death cases.

Disposing of a writ petition seeking a directive to the government to provide manpower and facilities for conducting night post-mortem, the court observed that the laws of procedure, whether statutory or otherwise, could not be a hurdle for early burial of body if the relatives and friends of the deceased requested for the same. In case of unnatural deaths, the bereaved family members could not sit in their house but had to queue up at police stations for early conduct of inquest of the body and, thereafter, in front of hospital authorities for early post-mortem examination.

The court directed the Chief Secretary to issue a circular fixing the time limit for conducting inquest and post-mortem examination in six months. The Chief Secretary should order that once an unnatural death was reported, it was the duty of the State machinery to complete the inquest and post-mortem examination and release the body within a time frame.

The court also directed the Chief Secretary to declare in the circular that the expenses for taking the body in unnatural death cases to hospital for post-mortem examination and to other places, if necessary, for conducting the inquest should be borne by the State.

The writ petition was filed by Hitesh Sankar T.S., secretary, Kerala Medico-Legal Society, and Jiju V.S. of Malappuram.

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