A 56-year-old man approached the Delhi High Court on Monday for directions to ensure that his wife, daughter or son-in-law do not perform his last rites.
The petitioner, who is suffering from a cardiac ailment and has been advised heart replacement, claimed his family treated him with cruelty and brought him “a lot of sorrow”, and so his body should be handed over to the person he treats as his son. The person, he said in the petition, looked after him well and “even cleaned his defecation” when he was bedridden.
In view of the acrimonious relationship between the petitioner and his family members, Justice Yashwant Varma asked the Delhi government counsel to seek instructions on the plea challenging the official standard operating procedure for mortuaries which grant a right over a dead body to the relatives of the victim.
In his plea filed through lawyers Visheshwar Shrivastav and Manoj Kumar Gautam, the petitioner said he is only seeking to exercise his right to life, fair treatment and dignity as well as “rights with respect to disposal of his dead body”.
“The Petitioner was treated very cruelly and badly by Respondent no.l & 2 (wife and daughter) and this brought him a lot of sorrow. It is not known when his end will come and he does not want his wife, daughter and son in law to lay a claim on his Dead Body as per Standard Operating Procedure of the Govt of NCT of Delhi which is ultra vires the rights of the petitioner,” the plea stated.
The petitioner said he suffers from poor health and wishes to make it clear that in event of his death he does not want his dead body to be given to Respondent no 1-3 (family members) or any of their relatives / agents.
“The Petitioner desires that his body be handed over to Respondent no. 4 who in petitioner’s bed ridden days looked after him and even cleaned his defecation besides remaining awake for nights together to look after him….
“The Right of the Petitioner to prescribe the modus of his last rights is his unalienable right as per Article 21 of the Constitution of India and is also his rights under the common law as it is his dead body which will be cremated so he has a right to choose the person who shall perform the same,” the plea said. The matter would be heard next in October.
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