The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Bombay High Court to finally decide within two weeks on the plea to stay burials at three cemeteries in Bandra (West) on fears of spread of through soil.
The petition moved by Pradeep Gandhy through Advocate Udayaditya Banerjee, had stated that the “present unprecedented health situation ought to take precedence over the religious rights of the deceased’s family members.”
Gandhy, a resident of the “densely populated area” of Bandra (West) had approached the SC to challenge a Bombay High Court order of April 27 rejecting his prayer.
The matter came up this morning before a Bench of Justices RF Nariman and Indira Banerjee.
The Supreme Court bench comprising of Justices RF Nariman and Indira Banerjee had observed that since the impugned order was passed at an interim stage it would be proper to ask the High Court to decide on the matter within two weeks in the absence of any reporter or affidavit filed by the State or Mumbai Municipal Corporation.
The petition had stated that there is no study or research to say with certainty that the infection would not spread from the buried infected bodies through the soil and underground water to the neighbouring areas.
Though there were no scientific basis to say with certainty that the infection would not spread from the buried infected bodies through the soil and underground water to the neighbouring areas, “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.”
On April 27, Justice BP Colabwalla of the Bombay High Court had refused to grant relief on this plea challenging the BMC’s permission to use Bandra west cemeteries to bury the bodies of COVID-19 victims.
The Bombay High Court had further 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 are the Ward Konkani Muslim Cemetery No. 80, Khoja Sunnat Jamat Kabrastan Bandra West and Khoja Isna Ashari Jammat Kabrastan Bandra West.
After the Bombay High Court’s interim order was challenged in the Supreme Court, the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind filed an intervention application asserting that there could be no stay as sought by the petitioner as burial was an integral part of the Muslim religion.