After neurosurgeon Dr Simon Hercules, the managing director of New Hope Hospital, died of COVID on April 19, 2020, his family members were not allowed permission to bury his body at the cemetery due to local opposition. When his body was taken to Corporation burial ground at Velangadu, a group of people raised objections and even attacked the ambulance carrying his body, which was finally buried with police protection.
Passing orders on his wife, Anandhi Simon’s petition against the Corporation’s rejection of her request for reburial with Christian rites at Kilpauk cemetery, Justice Abdul Quddhose described the incident as a shocking one where all human values were given a go-by due to objections raised by “heartless human beings”.
“The case on hand is [an] unfortunate event. The petitioner has lost her beloved husband due to COVID-19 and he has been buried in an inappropriate place instead of burying in a cemetery by observing the Christian ceremonies, the faith to which the petitioner and her husband belong,” noted the judge while quashing the Corporation order refusing exhumation.
In the absence of a legislation regarding exhuming bodies on family members’ plea, the court would have to necessarily step in to protect the fundamental right of the petitioner, said Justice Quddhose, directing the State to abide by the safeguards adopted in Ireland while exhuming the body. The judge added that he found in his extensive research that the Ireland model to be more apt.
“Apart from safeguards meant for a normal dead person, all the COVID-19 protocols imposed by the central and State governments will have to be followed while exhuming the body and reburying it at the cemetery.”
As per the case, Dr Simon Hercules was buried in Velangadu near New Avadi Road, where people belonging to another faith are buried, due to the attack by the locals. His wife had sought to bury the body at Kilpauk cemetery, the Corporation rejected it on the grounds that it was not safe to exhume the body and bury it at a different place.