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Rajesh Khaitan Vs. State of West Bengal and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtKolkata High Court
Decided On
Case NumberMatter No. 400 of 1984
Judge
Reported inAIR1985Cal208,1983(1)CHN226
ActsCalcutta Municipal Corporation Act, 1980 - Section 468
AppellantRajesh Khaitan
RespondentState of West Bengal and ors.
Excerpt:
- .....of the rule nisi the authorities concerned would have acted more promptly in disposing of the dead bodies. the chilling chamber according to the learned advocate general has been out of order and when according to him an average of about 10 bodies come to the morgue and the morgue receives bodies from as many as 29 police stations, the state government should take appropriate steps to provide better facilities for receiving the dead bodies and for storing them so that they can be preserved in the condition they are received and that there should be no further decomposition. i am further constrained to observe that it is an affront to human dignity to allow bodies to be stacked like carcasses of animals. i can well visualize the state of mind of a person who might have occasion to go.....
Judgment:
ORDER

P.C. Borooah, J.

1. By a letter D/- April 11, 1984 Mr. Rajesh Khaitan, an Advocate of this Court and an elected member of the West Bengal Legislative Assembly drew my attention to an Article entitled 'The dead tell no tales' illustrated with photographs appearing at pages 38, 39 and 41 of the issue of 'Sunday' D/-8/14th April, 1984. After seeing the aforesaid Article and the photographs, in the interest of the public, I issued a Rule Nisi on April 12, 1984 calling upon the Chief Secretary of the West Bengal Government and the Keeper of the Mominpur Morgue to show cause as to why necessary steps should not be taken in accordance with law to dispose of the bodies lying in the Morgue, some of which according to the photographs were in a highly decomposed state. I further directed the respondents to show cause why the bodies should not be disposed of in accordance with the provisions of Section 468 of the Calcutta Municipal Corporation Act, 1980.

2. By a later order D/- 20-6-84, I discharged (sic) Shri Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharjee, the State Counsel, as a Special Officer and permitted the petitioner to have photographs of the Morgue taken in the presence of an official of the Morgue so that this Court can be apprised of its present condition. An affidavit by Shri Asit Kumar Paul, a practising advocate and a junior of the petitioner, affirmed on July 9, 1984 has been filed annexing 18 enlargements of photographs taken of the building of the Mominpur Morgue, the inside of the Autopsy Room, the Chilling Chamber and also showing the manner in which the bodies are still kept. These photographs were taken on the 3rd July, 1984 and were all countersigned by Dr. A. K. Maitra, Assistant to the Chief Medical Officer of Health (Medico-Legal), 24-Parganas on 9-7-84.

3. The Learned Advocate General appearing on behalf of the State of West Bengal on instructions from the Medical Officer of the Morgue has admitted that all the photographs depict a true picture of the Morgue and its interior. If this be so, it is rather unfortunate that human bodies are allowed to He scattered, some even in a skeletal condition without being disposed of. I had expected that after the issue of the Rule Nisi the Authorities concerned would have acted more promptly in disposing of the dead bodies. The Chilling Chamber according to the Learned Advocate General has been out of order and when according to him an average of about 10 bodies come to the Morgue and the Morgue receives bodies from as many as 29 Police Stations, the State Government should take appropriate steps to provide better facilities for receiving the dead bodies and for storing them so that they can be preserved in the condition they are received and that there should be no further decomposition. I am further constrained to observe that it is an affront to human dignity to allow bodies to be stacked like carcasses of animals. I can well visualize the state of mind of a person who might have occasion to go to the Mominpur Morgue to claim the body of a relative or somebody near and dear to him after the necessary post-mortem is over. It is in public interest that immediate steps should be taken to clean up the Morgue and tone up the Administration of the Morgue so that the dead bodies are not allowed to accumulate and get decomposed to a skeletal stage. It may be possible that the decomposition is being deliberately permitted without the knowledge of the Authorities concerned so that a clandestine business in skeletons may be carried on. Therefore, in the interests of the public of Calcutta and to uphold human dignity and also in the interest of the health of the public living in the area surrounding the Mominpur Morgue, I lay down the following guidelines which I hope the State of West Bengal and the Authorities of the Calcutta Municipal Corporation will consider and give effect to as expeditiously as possible.

1) The Morgue building should be immediately renovated and if funds permit, a new Morgue should be constructed so that more floor area is available for the purpose for which the Morgue has been established.

2) The existing cold chamber which is out of order should be immediately repaired, and if funds permit a new cold storage chamber should be provided for So that bodies do not go through further process of decomposition after they are brought to the Morgue.

3) Immediate steps should be provided for cleaning up the Morgue and provision for running water should also be made, if the same is not already there.

4) Decomposed bodies which cannot be identified should be disposed of within a period of 72 hours from their arrival in the Morgue.

5) The bodies which can be identified and which are not claimed within a period of 7 days from the date of arrival in the Morgue, should be disposed of after the expiry of that period.

6) If visceras are removed from any body and the same is not claimed by the police station concerned within a period of one month from the date of the removal of the viscera, the same should be destroyed.

7) All the accumulated visceras which are now lying in the Morgue and which have been there for over one month, should be immediately destroyed.

8) Till it is possible to construct a new building, a suitable waiting room should be provided for relatives or friends who come to claim dead bodies from the Morgue.

9) The State Government should approach the Authorities of the Calcutta Electric Supply Corporation so that Mominpur Mourgue is connected to an essential feeder circuit. In the meantime electric connection should be immediately restored to the Morgue.

10) The Police and the Morgue Authorities will take steps to ensure that no clandestine business is carried on in the sale of skeletons or other parts of human bodies.

4. With these observations the Rule is disposed of but without any order as to costs.


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