Right To Attend Funeral Of Parent/Child/Spouse Is Part Of Article 25: Madras HC
The Court observed that, "Even a dead person must be deemed to possess certain rights. Of course this expression 'rights' will have to be understood contextually. A dead person is entitled to a dignified cremation/burial. This would of course mean that close relatives can participate in the ceremony..."
The Madras High Court, on February 11, held that the right to attend the funeral of a parent/spouse/child was part of Article 25 of the Constitution of India.
Bench comprising Justice GR Swaminathan held a special sitting on Sunday to allow an accused person under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act 1985 to attend his father's funeral.
The Court, however, refused to grant bail to the accused keeping in view of the seriousness of the allegations against him.
The Court observed that, "Even a dead person must be deemed to possess certain rights. Of course this expression 'rights' will have to be understood contextually. A dead person is entitled to a dignified cremation/burial. This would of course mean that close relatives can participate in the ceremony. This issue can be approached from another perspective also. The right to protect one's relative is a guaranteed fundamental right under Article 25 of the Constitution. The petitioner is a Hindu. As a son, he has to discharge certain religious obligations. He has to offer what is known as 'Pinda'. If one is the eldest son, it is he who alone can light the pyre."
The Court further noted the decision pronounced by a Division Bench of the Calcutta High Court in the case of Vineet Ruia vs. Principal Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of West Bengal and Others reported in AIR 2020 Cal 308 involving the disposal of dead bodies of Covid-19 victims after giving due consideration to the various decisions of the Hon-ble Supreme Court as well as other High Courts recognized the fundamental right of any family member to perform the funeral rites for a Covid-19 victim.
"Article 25 of the Constitution can be invoked by any person. It makes no distinction between citizen and non-citizen, subject to restrictions set out in the Article. There cannot be any distinction between free persons and prisoners either. Prisoners including under-trials can invoke this right under Article 25 of the Constitution. Right to participate in the funeral ceremony of the parent/spouse/child will fall within the sweep of the right under Article 25," the Court said.
The Court invoked Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code to allow the petitioner to attend his father's funeral.
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