On April 27, the Bombay High Court had refused to grant relief on the instant plea challenging the BMC’s permission to use Bandra west cemeteries to bury bodies of COVID-19 victims. A Bandra resident has moved the Supreme Court against a Bombay High Court order of April 27 rejecting the prayer to stay burial at three cemeteries near his residence as the petitioner fears the spread of COVID-19 through the buried bodies.
The petitioner, Pradeep Gandhy, through Advocate Udayaditya Banerjee stated that the “present unprecedented health situation ought to take precedence over the religious rights of the deceased’s family members.”
The Bombay High Court, however, directed the BMC to remove the three locks put up on the gates of the cemetery ground by local residents. The locks were put up on April 13 after they held a protest against the burial of a dead body at the cemetery ground. The three burial grounds in question were the Ward Konkani Muslim Cemetery No. 80, Khoja Sunnat Jamat Kabrastan Bandra West and KhojaIsna Ashari Jammat Kabrastan Bandra West.
The plea in Supreme Court stated,
The area is one of the most densely populated areas in the city of Mumbai, having a population of about 3,30,000 people with a density per kilometer of almost 29,000 people.
Contending that there are other burial grounds where burial could take place to avoid Bandra West, the petitioner had stated that “present unprecedented health situation ought to take precedence over the religious rights of the deceased’s family members seeking to bury the deceased at the subject cemeteries.”
“In the context of shifting of graves of Muslims vis a vis their right to religion under Article 25 and 26 of the Constitution, this Hon’ble Court has consistently reiterated the fact that such right must be subject to public order and health of the larger community.”
Gandhy also stated that though there may be no scientific basis to the contrary, “it is precautionary in nature and imperative to be ‘safe rather than sorry’ in extraordinary times such as the present situation where there is no cure to the disease.”
The plea prayed for,
Stay on the April 27 order of the Bombay High Court and a stay over the burial process at the three mentioned cemeteries.
Read the SLP here: