Dignity in death: 3-year jail term for those who prevent funeral of ‘notified disease’ victims in TN.

Any move to prevent the burial or cremation of a victim of any “notified disease” could land you in jail for three years along with a fine in the state.
Section 74 of the the Tamil Nadu Public Health Act of 1939 now specifies that any move to prevent “dignified burial or cremation of those who had died of a notified disease” will be a criminal offence.

The Tamil Nadu government has promulgated an ordinance that makes prevention of funerals for victims of “notified diseases”, a punishable offence, which includes coronavirus victims. Any move to prevent the burial or cremation of a victim of any “notified disease” could land you in jail for three years along with a fine in the state.

Section 74 of the the Tamil Nadu Public Health Act of 1939 now specifies that any move to prevent “dignified burial or cremation of those who had died of a notified disease” will be a criminal offence.

The move comes after widespread outrage over two separate instances of mob-led violence against the burial of two doctors who had succumbed to coronavirus. Most recently, the family of Chennai-based Dr Simon Hercules who succumbed to COVID-19 had to bear the ignominy of contending with a mob who aimed to prevent his burial over unfounded fears of the spread of COVID-19.

After initially abandoning the burial in the late hours of April 19, the doctor’s mortal remains were moved to another cemetery where a colleague and two other health workers conducted a hasty burial. All three individuals suffered injuries from the mob that prevented the funeral.

Following the incident, the Madras High Court suo moto took up the case and asked the state government to file a report on the matter. The Chennai police subsequently filed cases against 21 individuals for preventing the burial.

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